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Physical therapy for CRPS

What is CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, refers to a type of chronic pain that tends to affect one limb at a time. It typically develops after a traumatic event such as an injury, a stroke, a heart attack, or surgery. CRPS is distinguished by pain that’s out of proportion with the severity of the triggering event.

CRPS is relatively uncommon, and the cause isn’t completely understood. However, the condition can vastly improve with treatment, especially when the condition is detected and treated early. In these cases, complete remission is a strong possibility.

Patients with CRPS tend to experience a continuous burning or throbbing sensation in the affected body part, typically a leg, arm, hand, or foot. They may also experience swelling or stiffness, as well as heightened sensitivity to touch or cold sensations. Patients who experience these symptoms should contact a doctor immediately, as early treatment is vital for recovery.

Source: Mayo Clinic

The symptoms of CRPS

Symptoms of CRPS vary from person to person and can change over time. That said, most patients first experience pain, swelling, redness, and increased sensitivity to cold and touch. Over time, the affected limb may become chronically cold and lose some of its color, shifting from red to several shades lighter than the rest of the body.

At this point, the texture of the skin and nails on the body part may change, and some patients experience muscle spasms. Unfortunately, once these changes occur, the condition may be irreversible — that’s why it’s vital to seek treatment when the first symptoms appear.

The most common symptoms of CRPS include:

  • Continuous pain in the arm, leg, hand, or foot
  • Sensitivity to cold or touch
  • Swelling of the affected area
  • Changing texture of skin and nails
  • Muscle spasms

Source: MayoClinic

What causes CRPS?

Though the exact cause of CRPS isn’t known, it’s been known to occur after a traumatic event such as an injury, stroke, heart attack, or surgery. For this reason, it’s believed to occur due to an injury to the peripheral and/or central nervous systems.

There are two types of CRPS. Type 1, which is also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, occurs after an illness or injury that did not directly damage the affected limb. About 9 in 10 people with CRPS have Type 1. Type 2, the rarer form of CRPS, occurs following a distinct nerve injury in the affected limb.

The most common causes of CRPS include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Injury
  • Surgery

Source: MayoClinic

Physical therapy for CRPS

Physical therapy is one of the most important components of CRPS treatment, which is typically tailored to the severity of the patient’s condition. Generally, CRPS physical therapy will include movement therapy, which is intended to help maintain function in the affected limb. A licensed physical therapist will prescribe specific exercises that are safe and effective for the patient at hand.

In addition, CRPS treatment may include graded motor imagery (GMI), which is a rehabilitation process frequently used to treat disorders that result in movement problems. The goal of GMI is to retrain the brain to move the affected limb both smoothly and painlessly.

Source: Move Forward PT

Luna’s physical therapists treat CRPS

Luna employs a talented group of physical therapists who specialize in treating patients suffering from CRPS. Our PTs will work with each patient to design a dynamic physical therapy routine that will retrain the affected limb — and ideally stop the condition’s progression in its tracks.

Best of all, with Luna, patients can receive physical therapy right in the comfort of their own homes. Our physical therapists come to you — it’s physical therapy, delivered.

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