Have you injured a toe or a finger, just to have your whole extremity flare up in pain? Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition affecting one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands, or feet), almost always after an injury or trauma to that limb. CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to the nervous system, and is defined by prolonged or excessive pain, and changes in skin color, temperature, and/or swelling in the affected area.
The primary symptom of CRPS is chronic pain that may be constant and, in some people, extremely uncomfortable or severe. The pain may feel like a burning or a “pins and needles” sensation, or as if someone is squeezing the affected limb. The pain may spread to include the entire arm or leg, even though the initial injury might have been only to a finger or toe. Pain can sometimes even affect the opposite limb. There may be increased sensitivity in the affected area, so that even light touch is painful.
Previously called causalgia or reflex sympathetic dystrophy, CRPS symptoms vary between individuals. Studies show that most cases are mild and individuals recover gradually with time. In more severe cases, individuals do not recover and have long-term disability. Anyone can get CRPS. It can strike at any age and affects both men and women.
Other common features of CRPS include:
- skin may appear shiny and thin
- abnormal sweating pattern
- changes in nail and hair growth
- stiffness in affected joints
- problems with coordination
- tremors or jerking of the affected limb
Currently there is no single medical test to confirm CRPS. Its diagnosis is based on the person’s medical history, signs and symptoms. But because several other conditions can cause similar symptoms, careful examination to rule out another cause is important.
No one treatment for CRPS has gained popularity, although physical rehabilitation is recommended. The Feldenkrais Method is a modern approach to CRPS pain relief without drugs, surgery, or injection. The results can be remarkable. Feldenkrais uses a series of lessons and gentle manipulations tailored to the individual. This process “reorganizes” the way the parts of the body work together to enable free and easy movement without pain. A Feldenkrais approach to the treatment of CRPS makes the following assumptions:
- trauma to the affected area creates a malfunction in the affected limb
- this malfunction primarily involves the nervous system, and creates the pain and other symptoms associated with CRPS
- restabilizing and reorganizing the nervous system for functional movement brings very rapid relief
- the Feldenkrais Method has been used successfully to accomplish this restability
Sick and tired of your chronic regional pain? Consider the Feldenkrais Method to treat your CRPS comfortably and easily.