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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Lawyer

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Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also formerly known as causalgia, has been renamed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). CRPS is an umbrella term for the severe pain that results, typically in the extremities, after a traumatic event.

This debilitating pain condition can last a lifetime, causing excessive hardship. Many people with CRPS are eligible for financial compensation and receive awards that cover the medical costs, other expenses, suffering and loss related to their injuries.

What causes CRPS?

CRPS is a chronic neuro-inflammatory disorder caused by peripheral sensory neuronal damage or dysfunction. The disorder interferes with the peripheral nervous system’s signals from the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the body.

Common activities that can cause CRPS include:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns and cuts
  • C-fiber damage
  • Botched surgery
  • Strains and sprains
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Limb immobilization via casting
  • Unspecified internal complications
  • Needle sticks and other puncture wounds
  • Poor circulation that impedes tissue healing
  • High-impact trauma, such as an automobile accident
  • Inefficient communication between C-fiber nerve cells and the immune system

This medical condition typically results from injury to an arm or a leg. Trauma affects the extremities, causing damage to autonomic nerve fibers and the insulative myelin sheaths that protect them. These nerve fibers allow temperature sensations, pain, itching, capillary blood flow and general cellular health.

What are the symptoms of CRPS?

CRPS symptoms progress through three distinct stages, each with specific markers. Let’s take a closer look at each stage.

Stage 1 CRPS

The first stage typically begins between one and three months after a traumatic event is experienced. Symptoms are characterized by tactile hypersensitivity, inflammation and stinging pain. The affected area may also be warm to the touch and take on a red appearance.

Stage 2 CRPS

During this stage, pain and swelling become constant and intense. The skin temperature drops, and the skin begins turning blue. Other common symptoms of stage two include stiff muscles, muscle atrophy and decreased hair growth in the affected area.

Stage 3 CRPS

In this final stage, severe pain spreads through the entire affected area. Exaggerated muscle atrophy, significantly decreased range of motion and involuntary tendon and muscle contractions are typical. The skin will appear shiny and feel cool when touched. Pain spreads past the initial injury site.

Is CRPS a permanent disability?

Each case of CRPS is unique. While not contagious, there is no cure for this medical condition, and sometimes it lasts for life. However, if treatment begins early, it is possible for the syndrome to go into remission. However, even when remission occurs, the symptoms typically return later.

If it is not diagnosed or diagnosed too late and treatment for the nerve injury is delayed, the symptoms may progress to the point where they become irreversible. Adding to the challenge, CRPS is quite difficult to diagnose accurately, and early treatment is not typical.

The affected extremity or extremities may incur significant muscular atrophy, blood vessel leakage and, possibly, bone structure degradation. In some cases, these symptoms can become so severe that amputation is required.

Most people with CRPS experience pain that spreads outside of the initial site of trauma.

What treatments are available for CRPS?

According to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, CRPS treatment primarily involves pain management. Physical therapy and medication are typically the first forms of treatment implemented. Narcotics may be used for pain, steroids for swelling, and antidepressant medications to help with the psychological effects of this debilitating medical condition.

Many patients require more relief than the medications and physical therapy provide. Medical professionals use various surgical and other invasive procedures for more aggressive treatment of CRPS.

Spinal Cord Stimulators

Spinal cord stimulators are electrical devices that are placed beneath the skin. They emit mild electrical currents directly into the spinal cord. The electrical current interrupts normal pain signaling, tricking the brain into believing that the chronic pain is gone.

Internal Pain Pumps

Internal pain pumps deliver pain medication via an implanted catheter into the spinal cord. This approach delivers pain-relieving properties superior to traditional pain management because the medication is injected directly into the spinal column.

Nerve Blocks

Nerve blocks are invasive procedures where anesthesia is injected into the affected area. This approach numbs the nerves, which in turn stops burning pain signaling from occurring in the affected limb.

Surgical Sympathectomy

This extremely invasive surgical procedure involves severing the nerves that send pain signals from the affected area to the brain. It is used only as a last-resort CRPS treatment.

Can you get a settlement for CRPS?

CRPS is typically caused by some type of traumatic event that breaks a bone, tears a ligament, rips a muscle or causes some other type of trauma that affects peripheral nerves. CRPS is very often caused by personal injury resulting from car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, improperly performed surgical procedures, improper IV placement, venipuncture and workplace injuries.

In many cases, the traumatic incident that causes CRPS, such as motor vehicle accidents or preventable slips and falls on a commercial or residential property, is the result of another person’s negligence. In such cases, the at-fault driver or the premises owner may be responsible for the injury.

CRPS and medical malpractice cases can be very challenging. In many CRPS cases, it is difficult to definitively prove how a person or company directly caused a traumatic event that resulted in another’s CRPS. However, according to research from the National Library of Medicine, “In our review of 56 verdicts and settlements in the state of Florida, in cases involving a diagnosis or misdiagnosis of RSD or CRPS, over half resulted in a substantial verdict or settlement for the plaintiff.”

Many lawyers are not medical experts and have no experience handling cases involving RSD/CRPS, nor do they comprehend the life-altering effects that this debilitating medical condition of the sympathetic nervous system can cause.

Before you hire any law firm, you should ensure that the attorney you have in mind has experience in the area and is qualified to represent you in a manner that maximizes your compensation for suffering, lost income and a future inability to work.

Contact the law office of Meirowitz & Wasserberg today for a free consultation.

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