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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Physiotherapy
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) can be a painful and disabling
CRPS generally arises from a seemingly minor injury, such as a
and they can result in the syndrome that is defined as
being complex and regional (symptoms are generally in 1 region of the body), and painful.
is estimated that 80,000 people living in the United States are
diagnosed with CRPS each year. A multi-disciplinary approach to
treatment is currently recommended, consisting of care from physicians,
psychologists, and definitely physiotherapists.
What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?
CRPS, formally known as RSD (regional sympathetic dystrophy), is
considered to be a multi-system disorder characterized by
- severe pain
- pathological changes of the bones, joints, and skin
- excessive sweating
- tissue swelling and
- hypersensitivity to light touch
It is generally
categorized as one of 2 types:
- Type 1: not resulting from a distinct nerve injury
- Type 2: resulting from a distinct nerve injury
CRPS involves the central nervous system, autonomic nervous system,
and immune system.
Although studies and research has not yet determined exactly why
CRPS occurs, physiotherapy has proven to be quite beneficial in
managing symptoms, improving function, and increasing the quality of
life for people with CRPS.
How Does Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Feel?
Most people with CRPS experience:
- Extreme sensitivity to light touch—a symptom known as tactile hyperesthesia.
This causes even very common everyday activities, such as wearing clothing, bathing, or
applying skin creams or lotions to become very difficult and
- Significant pain, often described as burning, stabbing, grinding, or
throbbing that is often more extreme than what would be expected from
the original injury.
Specific signs and symptoms may include:
- Pain and sensitivity to touch.
- A higher or lower skin temperature in the affected limb.
- Discoloration of the affected limb.
- Awkward positioning of the affected limb as a result of sustained
muscle contractions. (This condition, known as dystonia, occurs in about
25% of CRPS cases.)
- A change in the appearance of hair and nails on the affected body part.
- Tissue and joint swelling.
- Heightened release of sweat by the affected limb.
Other symptoms reported by people with CRPS include increased
- difficulty in sleeping
- decreased sexual desire
- ncreased irritability
- depression and
- memory loss
How Is It Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of CRPS is generally made by a doctor or physician who is familiar
with the syndrome, such as a neurologist. Your physician may first
try to rule out possibility of other conditions, such as Lyme disease or peripheral
neuropathy, before making a definitive diagnosis.
Our senior physiotherapist also may be the first practitioner to recognize the
onset of CRPS. If your physiotherapist suspects the condition may be
present, they will discuss those concerns with you and your
doctor to determine the best plan of action for your care.
How our senior Physiotherapists can Help?
Physiotherapists play a very important role in the treatment of CRPS. We will work with you to develop a treatment plan to
help address your specific condition (which varies from individuals to individuals).
Because the symptoms of CRPS
vary, physiotherapy management and approach to care will also vary. CRPS treatment is generally
based on the chronicity and severity of the episode.
Treatment for CRPS may include:
Mobilization of the affected body
part, begun immediately following diagnosis of CRPS, is crucial to help
prevent contractures (the permanent shortening and tightening of muscles or joints), and to
maintain function. Physiotherapy may include a combination of passive and
active movements; the best treatment for your specific condition will be
determined by our senior physiotherapists.
Graded Motor Imagery (GMI).
All movements, even the
smallest ones, are a result of complex computations of various networks
within the brain. GMI is a rehabilitation process often used to treat
disorders, such as CRPS, that result in pain and movement problems. GMI
exercises the brain in measured and monitored steps, and includes left
and right discrimination training, motor imagery exercises, and mirror
Mirror Box Therapy.
Usually introduced as the third
step in a typical GMI protocol, mirror box therapy requires an
individual to exercise their unaffected limb in front of a mirror, while
watching the reflection, as if their affected limb were performing the
Note: High-level physical activities and thermo-electric modalities
(such as, ice, heat, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound) are not recommended
in the treatment of CRPS, and actually can be harmful. Finding
providers who commonly treat CRPS is key to receiving the best
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Phoenix Rehab physio Services
Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist
physiotherapists and rehab therapists who are highly
trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of
expert care to our patients.
PHYSIOTHERAPY & PHYSICAL THERAPY
HAND THERAPY & SPLINTING
Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists
(sprains and fractures) and fingers, and requires Hand Therapy to increase the function of their hand
following injuries or post-operations as well as custom made hand splints.
Commonly treated hand pain injuries includes
CLINICAL PILATES & WELLNESS PILATES
Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on
- core stability
- flexibility and
It is a system of safe and effective exercises, which
meet specific individual needs, to treat a wide range of injuries
You may do Pilates as matwork or with the reformer or both, and every session will be customized 100% to your fitness, injury and tolerance.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)
DEEP TISSUE RELEASE & SPORTS MASSAGE THERAPY
Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood
flow to tired, tight and tense muscles to
- accelerate recovery and
- shorten downtime / recovery period required
It also prevents
muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and potential ruptures), and increases muscle
Done regularly, it will keeps your muscles healthy and fit with body/movement-confidence. Read the benefits of regular deep tissue release therapy here.
All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).
See our entire team here with introductions and their specializations.
At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough
assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to
help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session.
Follow up sessions are inline to provide
expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific
exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term
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