How Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Changes Your Skin Color and What you Can Do About It

Usually, if you feel pain, you know exactly why. From a stubbed toe to a cut finger to a broken arm, the cause of pain is generally not a mystery. However, if you have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), pain can appear for seemingly no reason. Furthermore, skin changes can occur for seemingly no reason as well.

Despite the mystery, there is some good news: The condition is treatable. At CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center, our team of professional pain management experts specialize in helping patients with CRPS. While there’s currently no cure, we can treat your symptoms and help you get much-needed relief.

What is complex regional pain syndrome?

When it comes to CRPS, researchers don’t completely understand what causes the condition. However, they do know some things about it, including:

In some cases, there’s no known damage to the nerves ― called CRPS-I ― and in other cases, there’s clear damage to the nerves  ― called CRPS-II. In either case, the skin is hypersensitive at best, and at worst, the sufferer can experience severe pain at the slightest touch. 

Skin changes related to complex regional pain syndrome

If you have CRPS, in addition to pain, the condition can cause skin changes in the affected region. Whether your nerves are actually damaged or they’re just acting as if they’re damaged, the miscommunication can cause abnormal microcirculation, which changes the way your blood flows and circulates throughout the area.

Skin color

One of the most common changes is the color of your skin. You may notice blotchy patches of varying hues, including blue, dark blue, purple, and red. Or your skin may seem to lose color and turn pale.

Skin texture

Another sign of CRPS is shiny, thin skin. If you have hair in the area, you may notice changes to that as well, such as faster or slower growth. And if it’s your hand or foot that’s affected, you may see differences in nail growth, too.

Skin temperature

The poor circulation and nerve damage may also lead to changes in the temperature of your skin. The affected area may feel warm, hot, or cold in comparison to other areas of your body, and the fluctuations may come and go or last for days.

Treating complex regional pain syndrome

There’s no cure for CRPS, but there are ways to treat your pain and skin issues. Diagnosing CRPS early is the key to treating it effectively. At the first signs of pain and skin changes, come in and see us. The longer you wait, the more resistant the condition may become to treatment. We may include a number of things in your treatment plan, including:

Physical therapy

If your case of CRPS is mild and in its early stages, you stand a good chance of getting relief through physical therapy. Learning targeted movements that increase your circulation and flexibility can make a huge difference in your symptoms.

Nerve blocks

If your condition has progressed, and physical therapy isn’t helping as much as you’d like, we can offer you the next level of relief in a sympathetic nerve block. This injection can be administered in your neck or lower back area depending on which limb is affected by CRPS. You’ll get immediate relief from CRPS pain, though you may feel some temporary soreness at the injection site.

Nerve blocks can stop CRPS pain for weeks or even months so that you can take advantage of physical therapy, medications, and other treatments that can help you progress to a more pain-free life.

If you have symptoms of CRPS, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center today.

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