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Life with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): The challenges & solutions for relief

Life with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): The challenges & solutions for relief
Pain is meant to be your body’s way of telling us something is wrong, but what happens when that pain becomes so prolonged and severe that it undoes your quality of life?
This sounds like a nightmare, but for a lot of people, it’s a reality. Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that affects the limbs, typically after an injury or surgery.
It is characterized by severe and ongoing pain, swelling, and changes in skin color and temperature in the affected limb. CRPS can also cause difficulty with movement and impaired function of the affected limb. The exact cause of CRPS is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to abnormalities in the way the nervous system processes pain signals. It can be triggered by a variety of injuries, including broken bones, sprains, and surgery.
Living with CRPS can be challenging, as the pain can be severe and constant, and it can greatly impact daily activities and quality of life. Here are some of the specific challenges that people with CRPS face.
Severe and ongoing pain: The pain associated with CRPS can be intense and difficult to manage. It can be constant, or it may come and go in waves. The pain may also spread to other parts of the body, making it even more difficult to cope with.
Difficulty with movement and function: CRPS can cause stiffness, weakness, and difficulty with movement in the affected limb. This can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks and may cause mobility issues.
Emotional and psychological challenges: Living with chronic pain can be emotionally and psychologically challenging. It can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, depression, and anxiety. If the CRPS is the result of a traumatic incident, it creates more prolonged emotional issues like post-traumatic stress. The pain can be so debilitating, it changes someone’s entire demeanor - making them less happy and optimistic.
Social isolation: The chronic nature of CRPS can make it difficult for people to participate in social activities and maintain relationships. This means that you might also lose out on the joy of spending time with friends and family, leading to loneliness which would also exacerbate emotional challenges like depression and anxiety.
Financial strain: The treatment of CRPS can be costly, and the condition may also cause missed work and decreased productivity, leading to financial strain. The expenses associated with the CRPS can make it hard for families to make ends meet and this can lead to issues like debt, which only compounds the crisis.
There are several ways to mitigate the challenges of CRPS:

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can help to improve mobility and function in the affected limb and may also help to reduce pain. The best CRPS treatment centers don’t deal with the issues on a surface level by masking them with medication, they use holistic treatment to treat the body as a whole instead. According to The Spero Clinic, “the average CRPS patient will go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed for years before they are lucky enough to find out what is wrong with them. Practitioners who make this process easier end years of anguish and suffering.”

Pain management

Working with a healthcare provider to develop a pain management plan can be helpful in managing the pain associated with CRPS. This may include medications, physical therapy, and other treatments. There are measures that can be put in place to give you some relief as you go about your daily life.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy can help individuals with CRPS to adapt to their condition and perform daily tasks more easily. This may include the use of assistive devices and techniques for managing fatigue.

Emotional support

Seeking emotional support from friends, family, or a mental health professional can be helpful in coping with the emotional and psychological challenges of CRPS. It’s also worth sitting down with a psychological professional who can help you come to terms with the condition and cope with how it’s negatively impacting your life in a healthier way.

Support groups

Joining a support group for people with CRPS can provide a sense of community and a chance to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. You can find communities online and in-person - and you’ll be surprised by how good you’ll feel being part of a group that truly understands everything you’re going through.
Overall, living with CRPS can be challenging, but with the right management and support, it is possible to manage the condition and improve quality of life. It is important to work closely with a healthcare provider and to seek out resources and support to help mitigate the challenges of CRPS, so that you can still enjoy your life and all that it has to offer.
Baner image credit:  Image by Silvia from Pixabay

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