Complex regional pain syndrome is not all in the mind

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

CRPS is a complicated condition suffered by many workers nationwide, including in North Carolina. CRPS describes prolonged and excess inflammation and pain that was previously known as RSD, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, Sudeck’s atrophy and causalgia.

Because complex regional pain syndrome causes are not fully understood yet, if you suffer this painful condition, you may be told it is not real, but rather a condition in your mind. However, it is real, although it is not an injury; it is a bodily reaction after an injury, and typically much worse than what one would expect. It is most common in body parts that were injured or where people had surgery, most often an arm or leg.

Causes of CRPS

If you suffered a serious injury that involved a deep wound or a fractured bone caused by a fall, an accident or surgery, CRPS could develop. However, it could also follow an injury as minor as a strain or sprain, and occasionally there is no apparent reason.

The pain you experience is typically a burning, sharp or shooting pain. You may experience severe pain in an arm or leg, and your brain will also react to it. It affects the skin and nerves of the limb and the linked nerves in the brain. The pain is typically severe and debilitating.

Most common victims

Although anybody could get CRPS, it is most common in women between 40 and 60. Victims can experience it differently, and if you have mild pain, you could recover over time, but at a slow pace. However, if yours is a severe case, it might cause disability and long-term pain. Like with all chronic pain cases, CRPS could cause you to have mood swings, anxiety, sleeping problems, depression and sadness.

CRPS symptoms

Symptoms typically include the following:

  • Shiny or blotchy skin
  • Hot or cold areas on the skin
  • Weakness, shaking, stiffness or swelling in the affected limb
  • Tingling, numbness or sweating in the painful limb

Common reactions of CRPS victims include the feeling that the painful limb is not part of their body and even wishing they could cut it off.

As a North Carolina worker, you will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you have work-related injuries. However, proving that CRPS is real and work-related could be complicated. It is always best to report any occupational injury to the employer as soon as it becomes apparent, even injuries not linked to a single incident. Compensation typically covers medical expenses and lost wages for temporary disability. If your condition caused permanent disability, you might receive additional benefits.