The cause of CRPS is unknown, but it's generally thought to be the result of the body reacting abnormally to an injury. The pain is usually confined to one limb, but it can sometimes spread to other parts of the body.
What are the symptoms?
In addition to severe, long-lasting pain, CRPS can cause a range of other symptoms including:
- Joint stiffness and swelling in affected areas (oedema)
- Changes in colour or temperature of affected areas
- Tremors and muscle spasms (dystonia)
- Increased sensitivity – the slightest touch, bump or change in temperature can result in intense pain
- Difficulty moving the affected limb/body part
The emotional strain of living with constant chronic pain can sometimes lead to psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety. During periods of extreme pain, some people may even consider suicide.
It's estimated that around 85% of people with CRPS will slowly experience a reduction in some of their symptoms, including pain, over the first two years after the condition starts. However, some people will experience continuous pain despite treatment and, in rare cases, may develop further problems, such as muscle wastage.
How is CRPS diagnosed?
It’s important to see your GP if you have persistent pain that is preventing you from carrying out day-to-day activities.
However, CRPS can be difficult to diagnose because there is no single test available. Instead, it involves a number of tests to rule out other possible causes. It's therefore best to seek help as soon as possible as early treatment may reduce unnecessary suffering and improve the functionality of the affected limb.
Many cases of CRPS gradually improve to some degree over time, or get completely better. However, some cases of CRPS never go away and the affected person will experience pain for many years.
What treatment is available?
Treatment for CRPS involves 4 key aspects:
- education and self-management – advice on steps to help manage the condition
- physical rehabilitation – treatment to cope with the symptoms and reduce the risk of long-term physical problems, such as physiotherapy exercises
- pain relief – treatments to help reduce pain
- psychological support – interventions to help with the emotional impact of living with CRPS, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Due to the complex nature of CRPS, a number of different professionals may be involved in providing care and support. For example: physiotherapist; occupational therapist; pain relief specialist; psychologist; neurologist; social worker and/or employment adviser.
These professionals work with CRPS sufferers either individually or jointly as part of a ‘Pain Management Programme’ (PMP). PMPs aim to help sufferers manage the pain, even if the intensity of the pain cannot be reduced.
Is compensation available for CRPS?
Yes, although it’s only relatively recently that CRPS has been recognised as a chronic condition that deserves compensation. While no amount of money can compensate for the pain and distress that CRPS causes, nor lead to a miraculous cure, it will go some way towards helping you manage the symptoms and live with the condition on a daily basis.
How can Novum Law help?
We understand that living with a long-term, painful condition can be very difficult and extremely distressing and can cause psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression.
CRPS claims are often complex and many lawyers do not fully understand the condition or have experience with CRPS cases. Novum Law has represented many people with CRPS over the years and has a strong track record of settling claims successfully.
Our specialist team can put you in touch with the very best medical experts and treatment providers to ensure you have access to the care and rehabilitation you need to improve your quality of life.
If you or a family member has CRPS following an injury, we can help. Call or email us for a free, initial ‘no obligation’ chat in complete confidence. We will assess your case and advise you on how to proceed with your claim on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.