How is complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) treated?

Since there is no cure for CRPS, the goal in treating CRPS is to relieve painful symptoms associated with the disorder. Some therapies used include psychotherapy and physical therapy. In addition, medications such as topical analgesics can help relieve the symptoms of CRPS. Other medications that may be useful are opioid pain medications, corticosteroids, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs. Other treatments include:

  • Sympathetic nerve blocks: These blocks, which are done in a variety of ways, can provide significant pain relief for some people. One kind of block involves placing an anesthetic next to the spine to directly block the sympathetic nerves.
  • Surgical sympathectomy: This controversial technique destroys the nerves involved in CRPS. Some experts believe it has a favorable outcome, while other experts believe it makes CRPS worse. The technique should be considered only for people whose pain is dramatically but temporarily relieved by selective sympathetic blocks.
  • Intrathecal drug pumps: These pumps used an implanted catheter to send pain-relieving drugs right into the spinal fluid.
  • Spinal cord stimulation: This technique, in which electrodes are placed next to the spinal cord, appears to help many patients with their pain.

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