Causalgia, also known as complex regional pain syndrome type II (CRPS II), is a neurological disorder that causes chronic, intense pain. A common symptom of CRPS II is a burning pain in one of the extremities. Causalgia is caused by an injury to the peripheral nerve and can be difficult to manage. If you are struggling to treat your causalgia, contact peripheral nerve surgeon Dr. Eric H. Williams to help you find a solution for your pain.
Symptoms of Causalgia
The peripheral nerves run from your spine to your limbs. CRPS II commonly affects the following areas:
Symptoms are typically present within the first 24 hours after injury and are present around the area of the injured nerve. The most common symptoms of CRPS II are a burning or aching pain in the hand or foot. In addition, other symptoms may include:
- A feeling of pins and needles
- Sweating around the area of injury
- Swelling in the injured limb
- Changes in skin color and temperature
- Changes in the texture of the skin
- Changes in nail and hair growth
- Inability to move the affected limb
Symptoms can worsen with sensory stimulation and last for months. Many with CRPS II become hypersensitive and find it painful to be touched or to put on clothes. Pain can develop even if there was no direct injury to the nerves in the limb.
Causes of CRPS II
Causalgia or CRPS II is caused by an injury or direct trauma to the peripheral nerve. Some injuries that can cause causalgia are:
- Sprained ligament or tendon
- Crushed extremity
- Complex fracture of a bone
Post-traumatic pain can be present after an injury has healed due to the damage of the surrounding nerves. One of the most common causes for CRPS II is pain resulting from an ankle sprain.
It can be a challenge to diagnose causalgia. A peripheral nerve surgeon can do the following to diagnose the condition:
- Review medical history
- Physical exam
- Bone scan
- Imaging tests such as an X-ray to check for broken bones or bone loss or an MRI to evaluate soft tissue damage
- Thermography to check the temperature of the skin and quality of blood flow between the limbs that are injured and healthy
Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options based on your personal condition will be discussed.
A peripheral nerve surgeon can recommend treatment options for CRPS II based on your personal needs and condition as well as the source of the pain. If conservative treatments such as over-the-counter pain medications or applying direct heat to the affected area have not provided relief, other treatment options may be recommended. These can include:
- Steroid medication. Steroids such as prednisone can be used to reduce inflammation and improve overall mobility.
- Antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants can be used to provide relief from pain resulting from damaged nerves.
- Nerve block. A nerve block can be done by injecting an anesthetic into the damaged nerve to block pain.
- Opioid medication. Opioid medication can be administered via a pump directly into the spine to block pain signals from the nerve.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy exercises that are gentle and improve strength and range of motion can be used to help decrease pain and improve flexibility.
- Spinal cord stimulation. The spinal cord can be stimulated to reduce pain by using a small electrical current delivered to the spinal cord using tiny electrodes.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). TENS can be used to ease chronic pain by administering electrical impulses to the nerve endings.
- Surgical sympathectomy. When other treatments have failed, a surgery to block certain nerve signals can bring relief.
Dr. Eric H. Williams Can Help You Find Relief
If you need a skilled peripheral nerve surgeon to help you find relief from causalgia, contact Dr. Eric H. Williams. He can help diagnose your condition and create a treatment plan based on your specific nerve issue. To set up an appointment, contact us online or by calling the office at 410-709-3868.