What you might not know about CRPS

In support of CRPS awareness month, two of our Chronic Pain lawyers, Chelsea Lawson and Hannah Gammie, have compiled a list of their top 10 less commonly known facts about CRPS:

  1. The most common alternative names for CRPS other than its other regularly sited name Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, are Causalgia, Aglodystrophy and Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome.
  2. Women are 3 times more likely to be affected by CRPS than men at a ratio of at least 3 or 4:1. 
  3. CRPS is rated at a score of 45 on the McGill pain scale, which makes it the most painful condition factored on the scale.  This is more painful than non terminal cancer and childbirth.
  4. It is a common misconception that CRPS patients should apply ice to the affected area.  However the application of ice to the CRPS area can not only cause the CRPS to worsen, but it can also sometimes cause the disease to progress more rapidly and in some cases spread to other areas. 
  5. There are currently two types of CRPS.  ​
    • CRPS type 1, which used to be known as RSD and occurs after an illness or injury that did not directly damage a nerve​
    • CRPS type 2 known as Causalgia occurs after there has been an actual known injury to a nerve.
    • The third sub type of CRPS that would not fully meet the clinical diagnostic Budapest Criteria is known as CRPS not otherwise specified (CRPS-NOS). 
  6.  A poor diet can alter your immune system causing it to respond abnormally contributing to persistent low grade inflammation and worsening CRPS symptoms.  Studies have found that the immune system can in fact react to an unhealthy diet in the same way it would react to a bacterial infection.  Foods such as whole fruits, berries, dark green leafy vegetable, nuts and wholegrains can have an anti-inflammatory affect that can help soothe and prevent painful flare ups. ​​
  7. CRPS is usually contained to the outer extremities. Your arms and legs are the most typical areas that can be impacted by CRPS.  In fact, in recorded CRPS cases, 60% of sufferers experience CRPS in their arm, or arms and 40% experience CRPS in their leg or legs.​
  8. CRPS has been known to cause short term memory problems.  This is due to problems related to the limbic system of the brain. ​
  9. Ambroise Paré was the first person to use ligatures for the treatment of war wounds in the 1500’s instead of using cauterisation, as was the method at the time. He was also the first recognised person to describe a disorder related to the current concept of CRPS in history.  He successfully treated a severe and persistent pain syndrome that occurred to the French King Charles IX of Valois, however his methods of treatment are unknown. 
  10. A current study being undertaken by the University of Texas supports a new belief that for men and women pain manifests itself differently at a cellular level.  This may mean that certain pain drugs may work for men but not for women. 


If you have any questions or feel that you may be experiencing chronic pain as a result of an accident or injury please do get in touch

More information on chronic pain can also be found here. 

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