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CRPS Specialist

Nebraska Pain Institute

Pain Management Specialist

If you’re suffering from extreme chronic pain after an injury, you may have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Pain Management Specialist Dr. C. Weston Whitten at the Nebraska Pain Institute in Lincoln, Nebraska, is very familiar with this rare condition and offers treatment options to help alleviate pain. If you’re experiencing pain in extremities, call the office or book a consultation online.

CRPS Q & A

What is CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition that causes discomfort in your hand, arm, leg, or foot after an injury. It's been theorized that the injury somehow damages the peripheral and central nervous system, which causes the pain signals to malfunction.

CRPS is classified into two types:

  • CRPS-I: no findings of nerve damage
  • CRPS-II: confirmed injury to the nerve

CRPS can occur after an injury to your limb such as a fracture or crush injury or after a mild trauma such as an infection or sprain. It may begin after a medical event, such as a heart attack. You may experience CRPS in your hand even if you only fractured a finger.


What are the symptoms of CRPS?

CRPS only causes symptoms in the affected limb, and may include:

  • Throbbing or burning pain
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Changes in skin texture, color, or temperature
  • Change in hair color or nail growth
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Muscle spasms or atrophy

CRPS may also cause you to feel a prickling sensation, and the pain may travel up your arm or leg.


What causes CRPS?

Doctors are still investigating why some people experience CRPS after an injury and others don’t. It may be due to the nerves affected by the injury or from abnormal vessels or immune system.

CRPS may also be more common in people with inflammatory conditions, such as asthma. Genetics may also play a role in the development of the disorder.


How is CRPS managed?

Dr. Whitten uses a combination of therapies to help you manage your CRPS, including:

  • An exercise program with physical or occupational therapy
  • Talk therapy
  • Medication, including over-the-counter pain relievers, opioids, or topical anesthetics
  • Nerve block
  • Spinal cord stimulation

Low-dose intravenous ketamine provided over several days is a fairly new form of treatment for CRSP that has shown some promise in cases that don’t respond well to other forms of treatment.

Getting treatment early, and most specifically physical and occupational therapy, may significantly improve your outcomes, reduce pain, and improve your quality of life.

If you think your pain condition may be CRPS, call the office or book an appointment online to schedule a consultation with Dr. Whitten.