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What Causes CRPS To Get Worse?

What Causes CRPS To Get Worse?

Do you experience pain in your skin when touched, or in your legs when walking in cold, rainy weather? Have you noticed any unusual changes in your skin color or temperature? Have you had no recent injuries but still feel this discomfort? – True for CRPS I, but it can also follow an injury (CRPS II) It’s possible you may have complex regional pain syndrome. Don’t let this condition worsen. There are steps you can take to prevent its progression.

What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a general term that describes excessive and long-term inflammation and pain you may have after injuring an arm or leg. It can be acute (recent, short-term) or chronic (lasting more than six months). If you have CRPS, you know the pain can be spontaneous or excessive, and can be triggered by something as mild as being touched. Although CRPS can improve and may go away in time, symptoms which don’t subside can be disabling.

What Are The Symptoms?

If you have CRPS, the symptoms can often be managed with pain medicine or even ketamine therapy but recognizing them goes a long way in finding treatment that helps. Complex regional pain syndrome has two types – 1, which develops without known nerve damage, and 2, which is triggered by specific nerve injury. Typical symptoms may include:

  • Nonstop burning or throbbing sensation
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot weather, and humidity
  • Swelling in the area that hurts
  • Variations in skin temperature and color
  • Changes in skin texture, as well as hair and nail growth
  • Joint stiffness, swelling, and injury
  • Atrophy
  • Reduced ability to move affected limbs

Symptoms can change over time and vary by person, but discomfort, swelling, redness, and visible changes in skin temperature and hypersensitivity normally happen first. Many symptoms, like muscle spasms and tightening, could indicate a serious problem. Once these happen, CRPS is often irreversible.
If you have CRPS, see a healthcare professional before the symptoms ruin your quality of life.

Know the Causes

CRPS can happen in children, but usually peaks in adults around the age of 40 and happens more in women than men. No one knows the exact cause. But leading candidates include general inflammation, inflamed nerves, and even variations in pain perception in the brain and spinal cord. Certain substances and chemicals found in the affected limbs are another possibility, along with problems with neurotransmitters and how pain signals are sent through the body.

Avoid These Things to Keep It from Getting Worse

Complex regional pain syndrome is different for everyone. Though its symptoms are generally the same, they can strike at different times and with different intensities based on many factors. It’s a very rare condition that may go away on its own, but for the 200,000 people in the U.S. affected by it, that’s little consolation. If you have CRPS, you may want to avoid any of the following to keep it from getting worse.

  • Nicotine use. About 30 million people in the U.S. use tobacco-based products, many of whom experience CRPS and other chronic pain conditions. In one study, it was found that people with CRPS Type I who used nicotine were more susceptible to pain-related anxiety.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption. Many people use alcoholic beverages to dull physical and emotional pain, but there’s evidence that excessive alcohol consumption can have the opposite effect on someone with CRPS.
  • Excessive caffeine.
  • Sleep deprivation. If you have poor sleeping habits or sleep is otherwise disrupted, your CRPS will likely worsen. The Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association estimates 75 to 90% of people with complex regional pain syndrome also have a sleep disorder.
  • Stress.
  • Cold or heat.
  • Inflammation.
  • Emotional or physical trauma can worsen the symptoms linked to complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Weather changes, particularly changes in temperature or barometric pressure, can make CRPS worse. According to Loma Linda University Health, if barometric pressure drops, it’s not unusual for the nerves to experience more pressure than normal, and send pain signals to the brain.
  • Too much or too little physical activity.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If you suspect you may have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), it’s important to seek proper diagnosis and treatment. The diagnosis process may involve tests such as bone scans, x-rays, and MRI, and will focus on the severity of your pain. Your healthcare provider may also recommend a sympathetic nerve block, which involves injecting an anesthetic into nerves near the spine, to determine if your pain is related to your sympathetic nervous system. There are several treatment options available to manage CRPS symptoms, including pain medicine, antidepressants, and ketamine therapy. Contact us today to learn how ketamine can help you.

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James T. Leathem, DO

Dr. James Leathem is a board-certified anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He was born and raised in Connecticut and graduated from Florida Southern College with a bachelor of science in marketing management with minors in sociology and communications. He obtained his medical degree from Midwestern University’s Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in anesthesiology at Michigan State University and its affiliated McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.

In 2015, after residency, Dr. Leathem returned to Arizona to practice anesthesiology. He joined Red Mountain Anesthesiologists and worked primarily at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, performing 100% of his own cases. He was made partner in the group after demonstrating 3 years of anesthesia excellence and administering over 4,000 anesthetics. In 2019, a corporate change occurred and an opportunity presented itself in which he was able to transition out of the hospital to surgery center and clinic-based anesthesia.

Dr. Leathem realizes that the only constant in life is change. In 2020, amidst the global pandemic, his career took a different direction. This change led him to collaborate with Dr. Wong and Dr. Sharma and they founded Advanced Wellness and Pain (AWAP). Their mission is to provide a variety of state-of-the-art procedural services that improve patients’ quality of life and overall physical and mental well-being.

Dr. Leathem believes that we are all a work in progress and that each day, one should strive to make positive changes in their life. He is here to help empower each patient on their journey to be their best self and live their best life. When you are being cared for by Dr. Leathem, you can be assured that he will give you his undivided attention and time.

Gregory Wong, MD

Dr. Wong is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of both the American Society of Anesthesiology and the Arizona Society of Anesthesiology. He did his undergraduate training at the University of California at Davis, Davis, California; doctorate training at The University of Health Sciences of the Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, IL; and his post-doctoral training at the Integrated Program at the University of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ. He has spent his whole 24-year career practicing in Arizona.

Dr. Wong grew up in the Bay Area of California. He is married and is raising three daughters. At the early age of 12 years old, he knew he wanted to become a physician. His love of the human spirit, intrigue of human physiology, and compassion for human suffering led him to the path of anesthesiology and pain medicine.

Today, Dr. Wong realizes patients need a holistic biophysical-mental-spiritual care. This philosophy has brought him to the studies of regenerative medicine and infusion therapies. He has firsthandily witnessed the overwhelming success of these therapies for treating chronic pain and depression and the return of patients of “life-functionality.”

“There has never been a time more important than now to advocate for our patients in these difficult times. We owe it to our patients to offer these state-of-the-art treatment modalities that weren’t available before.”

Deepak Sharma, MD, MBA

Dr. Sharma is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He completed three degrees at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA: a Bachelor in Finance, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Medicine. He went on to complete residency at the Mount Sinai Morningside-West Hospital System in New York, NY and post-graduate fellowship at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA.

Dr. Sharma is committed to treating his patients as a whole with a comprehensive biophysical-mental-spiritual approach. He is a lifelong learner and is constantly researching cutting-edge therapies backed by scientific studies. He has taken a particular interest in regenerative and infusion therapies after witnessing firsthand their significant benefits on those suffering from chronic pain and depression. In his free time, Dr. Sharma enjoys spending time with his family and friends, hiking, traveling, reading, and meditation.

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