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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome CRPS

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who said his doctor diagnosed him with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome CRPS. The doctor told him it was from the fall he had on a wet mopped floor at a local fast food place where the girl doing the mopping failed to put up a sign. He wondered if we would be able to help him with such an injury.

Trying a case where your client has been injured, and developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) can be daunting. We have handled several such cases.

CRPS is sometimes difficult for jurors to understand. The condition is not easy to diagnose though new tests are being developed yearly to help objectively support the diagnosis.

But with CRPS, an X-ray rarely shows a visible injury. Lastly, people with CRPS typically work through their pain and, aside from their pain, can function. So, defense teams usually argue that the plaintiff is not really hurt.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What exactly is “complex regional pain syndrome” (CRPS)? And, of equal importance, what causes it?

In simple medical terms, CRPS is a nerve disorder and chronic pain affecting an arm or a leg. — CRPS years ago used to be called RSD (meaning Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). — What causes CRPS to develop is not well known.

CRPS typically develops after an injury or surgery. The pain is out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury. Doctors have explained it to us as the nerves of an arm or leg becoming hypersensitized following an injury. The hypersensitized nerves simply are unable to go back to their pre-injury state.

Symptoms may change over time but typically involve pain, swelling, redness, and noticeable changes in temperature and hypersensitivity (particularly to cold and touch).

Over time, the affected limb can become cold and pale, undergo skin and nail changes, and muscle spasms. Once these changes occur, the condition is often irreversible.

In some people, signs, and symptoms of CRPS go away. In other cases, they persist for months or years.

One client we helped suffered a pinched nerve in the neck. The nerve caused CRPS to develop in the arm that the nerve flowed into.

Another client had a cast put on her wrist. The cast was too tight due to swelling, and the swelling crushed and pinched the nerves. The nerves were still inflamed years after the removal of the cast.

There often are no precise treatments for the condition. But one intriguing therapy in Europe is promising.

They put the patient under general anesthesia to undergo surgery, except more profound to the point of near death. — The anesthesia essentially shuts down the patient’s entire nervous system.

Then the patient is revived.

In many cases, the CRPS symptoms have entirely disappeared. Almost like shutting down and rebooting a computer.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”