Physiotherapy for Treating Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

/Physiotherapy for Treating Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Physiotherapy for Treating Complex Regional Pain Syndrome 2017-12-12T10:04:12+00:00

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a condition in which a person experiences excruciating pain. CRPS can last for over six months and can affect one limb following a surgery or injury. The pain can, however, spread to other parts of the body.

The skin in the affected area tends to swell, change in color and temperature, and become more sensitive when touched. Even a slight touch or change in temperature can trigger intense pain.

Complex regional pain syndromeIt’s believed that damages in the central nervous system can result in CRPS. Some CRPS cases are mild while some are extreme. Some patients see the symptoms go away over time while some continue to experience the pain for years.

If you experience intense and persistent pain that prevents you from doing everyday activities, be sure to see your doctor immediately. CRPS can be difficult to diagnose as there’s no specific test for it.

CRPS Causes

The exact cause of complex regional pain syndrome is unknown although it is linked to the abnormal response of the body to an injury. CRPS has two types, CRPS-I and CRPS-II.

CRPS-I or reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome involves cases without direct damage to the nerves. CRPS-II or causalgia, on the other hand, is associated with a nerve injury. Although their causes are different, treatment is similar for both cases.


CRPS can affect anyone but it is found it be more common among women around age 40. Cases affecting seniors and children are very few.  Here are some of the common symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome.

  • Prolonged, severe pain
  • Changes in skin color and temperature in the affected area
  • Swelling
  • Skin texture appears thin and shiny
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased mobility in the affected area

Treatment for CRPS

Here are types of treatment used for complex regional pain syndrome.

  • Education. Education plays a vital role in the treatment of CRPS. You need to be provided complete and clear information about your condition so you can also take necessary steps to take care of yourself.
  • Pain relief. Medications can also be used to provide relief for CRPS. There is no specific drug, however, for CRPS. Recommended medications may also vary from one patient to another.
  • Psychological support. CRPS may cause patients to develop anxiety, stress, or depression. And these factors can, unfortunately, make treatment more challenging. Getting psychological support to help you cope with the emotional impact of CRPS is crucial so you can recover and cope better.
  • Physiotherapy. There are exercise programs that can help improve blood flow as well as the strength and function of affected areas. Taking part in these programs will prevent CRPS symptoms from worsening. You’ll also learn ways to manage everyday tasks on your own.

Physiotherapy for Treatment of CRPS

Your physiotherapist will work with you in developing a treatment program according to your unique needs. There is no “exact same” approach for treating CRPS as symptoms also vary per patient. Strenuous or high-level physical activities are not recommended as they can be harmful.

Movement therapy will be used to help prevent tightening of affected muscles and joints and also to help restore function. Your physiotherapist may also recommend Graded Motor Imagery or GMI to exercise the brain and ‘reconnect’ it to the affected body part. When the brain sees a body part as a threat, it introduces pain so you can respond and treat the affected area immediately. However, this natural process does not work for parts of the body affected by CRPS.

Physiotherapists will help you set realistic goals as you cope with the effects of CRPS. They’ll help you manage your condition and restore your self-confidence.

If you’re dealing with CRPS, there’s professional help available for you. Contact us today at One to One Wellness, book your consultation with one of our friendly physiotherapists.