Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Chronic Pain After an Injury

-Posted On May 23, 2013 In Serious Injuries-

As a Personal Injury Attorney, I work with clients who suffer pain from their injuries. Often times, doctors, insurance companies and even loved ones of those injured tend to focus on when an injured person SHOULD BE healed, and then expect all to be well, even though the injured person is still suffering. Then, sometimes, the insurance companies, the doctors, and even family members lose faith in the veracity of the client’s pain or suffering, and conflict begins.

We have found over the many years in personal injury practice that human beings don’t all heal at the same rate. And they don’t heal according to a schedule. And the doctors don’t agree on what that schedule should be. Every person is different and every injury unique to each individual. Every person has a different activity level and places different demands on their bodies. And sometimes, if a person is injured in one part of their body, another related body part may suffer chronic pain. I recently found the study on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome to be very interesting because of its focus on chronic pain that remains after injury, and not necessarily in the targeted area of the body where the precise original injury occurred.

How can the pain from an injury spread? Also referred to as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), this chronic disease generally involves the skin and swelling, and is considered severe and progressive. The disorder is multifactorial and can spread to various areas of the body after typically beginning in one or more limbs.

There are two classifications of this pain syndrome:

  • Type I – The condition does not present with an obvious presence of nerve lesions. (The type most patients diagnosed with the condition suffer from.)
  • Type II – denotes obvious nerve damage or injury as the cause of the condition.

Individuals who suffer from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome following a serious injury may experience a range of symptoms including, but not limited to,

  • burning sensations
  • severe tingles
  • shooting pains
I am fascinated to learn that Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or RSD is considered one of the more painful and debilitating diseases, and that treatment often requires a multi-disciplinary approach with a combination of medicine and physical therapy.
I know that serious injuries such as traumatic brain injury can move into the chronic stage, often permanently, and brain injury may go unnoticed by many. It seems that other nerves or tissues in one or more areas of the body may also be more susceptible to the onset of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome symptoms.
A few years ago, we represented a gentleman who had suffered RSD after a severe wrist fracture. Because of the skepticism of the insurance company opposing us, we needed to take the matter to trial. Ultimately, the jury held the defendant fully accountable for the full extent of our client’s damages, but we had to educate ourselves first, and then the jury. As medicine progresses, I expect more people will recognize this syndrome and acknowledge just how serious Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is.

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