Diagnosing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Diagnosing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is a very rare condition that is not well understood. It typically causes severe pain in a person’s extremities and occurs after an injury or surgery. Most patients find treatment works best when it is started early. When the treatment works, patients can see significant pain improvement and even go into remission in some cases. The most important factor in an effective treatment plan is accurate and early diagnosis. However, sometimes, this is harder than it seems.

Doctors cannot diagnose patients if they do not know about the symptoms. Many patients who experience pain feel they have to work through the pain on their own. In addition, some patients feel that seeking help makes them weak. This is not at all the case. Pain does not have to be a normal part of life. And, while physicians may not have a cure for complex regional pain syndrome, they can help to lessen the pain felt by patients and even help patients go into remission in some cases. Therefore, if you are experiencing constant and severe pain that affects a singular limb or makes it feel near impossible to touch or move said limb, visit your doctor immediately. While the pain may be caused by something else, if it is complex regional pain syndrome, it is important to begin treatment as early as possible.

Diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome can prove difficult. There is not a singular test that can be used to diagnose the condition. Rather, physicians must perform a variety of tests and imaging procedures to rule out any other cause of the pain. Bone scans are used to help find changes in bone density or shape. Sweat production can be used to determine the amount of sweat output of both limbs. If the results are uneven, it could be a sign of complex regional pain syndrome. X-rays can show loss of minerals, which is a tell-tale sign of the disease in it’s later stages. MRIs can show tissue changes that help to rule out other conditions.

Complex regional pain syndrome can be a very difficult diagnosis for patients. In addition to suffering from severe pain that negatively impacts the quality of life, patients also may go months or years without a proper diagnosis. Because complex regional pain syndrome is so rare, many physicians may have never seen the condition in person before. As a result, it is important to seek the help of a pain management specialist if you think you may be suffering from complex regional pain syndrome. Pain management specialists spend all of their time helping patients find effective pain treatment plans.

Patients who are diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome may feel hopeless initially. The condition is little understood and there is no single treatment or cure. However, when a diagnosis is made early on, the prognosis for the patient is typically positive. Some patients are lucky and notice their symptoms go away on their own. However, in other patients who receive proper treatment, there is no reason they cannot live a good quality of life with minimized pain if diagnosed early.