Treatment Options for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

If you suffer from complex regional pain syndrome, it’s good to know that there are many treatment options. Doctors often try medication first. Other options include physical or psychological therapy, surgery, nerve blocks, or medical devices like neurostimulators and drug pumps.

Talk to your doctor about the right pain treatment for your complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Not all treatments may be applicable to your type of pain. Treatments include:

Medication

Doctors often try medication first. Because each person responds differently to medication, your doctor may try a variety of doses and drugs. Medications range from over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory steroids to stronger pain medicines.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy attempts to build or recondition muscles – allowing you to move more normally and with less pain. Your doctor may recommend passive physical therapy, such as massage and applying heat/cold, or active therapies, such as exercise.

Psychological Therapy

Chronic pain can bring stress that affects you, your relationships, and your body. Psychologists are available to work with you on relaxation techniques and coping and self-monitoring skills.

Corrective Surgery

Your doctor may do tests, such as MRI or CT scans, to look for the cause of your pain. If the test reveals a problem that it is known can be corrected by surgery, your doctor may recommend this treatment.

Therapeutic Nerve Blocks

Therapeutic nerve blocks are local anaesthetic and/or steroid injections given at the origin of pain. Nerve blocks usually provide temporary pain relief. If your pain is not managed after multiple injections, your doctor may consider other treatments.

Medical Devices

Medical devices, such as neurostimulators or drug pumps (intrathecal drug delivery systems), are surgically placed devices that modulate pain signals before they reach the brain.

Medical devices for the treatment of pain include:

  • Neurostimulators – send mild electrical impulses to the epidural space near the spine, masking the perception of pain messages to the brain and replacing pain with a tingling sensation
  • Drug pumps – deliver pain medication directly to the fluid around the spinal cord (called “the intrathecal space”), requiring only a fraction of the medication that would be needed if taken orally

Your doctor can turn off or remove the system completely. In addition, you can try these therapies temporarily before you receive a permanent implant.

Neuroablation

With neuroablation, doctors destroy (usually with heat) the nerves that serve as pathways to the brain. Neuroablation is often a last resort when other treatments have failed.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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