Have you ever experienced pain so bad you cannot even stand to put on a pair of socks without agonizing pain? Did you recently have surgery or endure a traumatic injury? If so, you may be experiencing symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
CRPS is a debilitating condition that is characterized by having pain that is out-of-proportion, along with several other features. While it is not entirely clear why CRPS develops, it is seen in people who have recently suffered a traumatic event prior to surgery. It is believed the pain experienced is due to an impaired processing pattern in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that ultimately causes an inflammatory response, and leads to vessel spasm, swelling, and increased pain. As a result, people experience burning pain, redness, and swelling.
Signs and Symptoms to Watch For
- Swelling and redness
- Pain-out-of-proportion – Often experience extreme pain during something that normally would not cause pain (i.e. being brushed with a cotton swab)
- Increased skin temperature – the foot will appear warm compared to the other foot
- Increased or decreased sweating – this will depend on the stage of the CRPS and is due to an increase or decrease in sympathetic activity
- Brittle or clubbed toe nails
- Muscle changes and atrophy
Diagnosing CRPS is very difficult since the previously mentioned signs and symptoms are commonly seen in other conditions. It is important to rule out other possible causes before jumping to CRPS. These can include: compartment syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, gout, fibromyalgia, nerve entrapment, cellulitis, or even psychological. While there are numerous conditions that look similar to CRPS, recognizing CRPS is critical to prevent progression and improving the outcome, and a doctor should be seen right away if you suspect it.
There is currently no definite treatment for CRPS since everyone responds differently to treatments. However, there are several options available to people who suffer from CRPS. These include:
- Medication and nerve blocks
- Nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Physical and occupational therapy
If you have been experiencing excruciating pain in your feet, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We will explain all your treatments options to available to you to ensure you maintain healthy feet.