Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Affects More Than Twice as Many Women as Men

Medical News Today
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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Affects More Than Twice as Many Women as Men

09 May 2005

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD), is a complex and poorly understood neurological syndrome characterized by severe pain. CRPS/RSD affects from 2.3 to 3 times more women than men and is a major cause of disability — only one in five patients is able fully to resume prior activities. Equally frightening is the increasing diagnosis of CRPS/RSD in children and adolescents.

CRPS/RSD is a common complication after surgery or a minor injury, but the resulting pain is disproportionate. A recent web-based epidemiological survey of 1,610 people with CRPS, sponsored by the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Association of America (RSDSA) and conducted by Johns Hopkins University, showed that common events leading to the syndrome were surgery (29.9%) fracture (15%), sprain (11%) and crush injuries (10%).

Telltale signs and symptoms of CRPS/RSD include: moderate-to-severe pain, often caused by stimuli that would not normally provoke pain (the water in a shower, light breezes, the touch of clothing, etc.); abnormal skin color or temperature changes; and sweating. The continuing tragedy is that many physicians are not familiar with its telltale symptoms and do not consider the diagnosis in their examination. Experience has shown that early diagnosis promotes more successful outcomes for people with the syndrome.

Linda Lang, co-author of Living With RSDS, suffered for many years before her syndrome was appropriately diagnosed. Although people with CRPS/RSD often talk about pain, “There is an awful lot we leave out — how a productive member of society can become too disabled to work or to take care of her children. We don’t discuss the tremendous personal losses-families, friends, jobs-that CRPS/RSD wreaks, nor do we discuss the outrageously difficult time we have negotiating the red tape that binds insurance, medical, and social security benefits. Evaluating pain is subjective, but the losses are measurable, and often, substantial.”

The RSDSA suggests that anyone who thinks that they or a family member might have CRPS/RSD visit or contact the association call toll-free (877)662-7737 for an information packet.

RSDSA is a national not-for-profit organization, headquartered in Milford, Connecticut, that promotes greater public and professional awareness of CRPS/RSD and educates those afflicted with the syndrome, their families, friends, insurance and healthcare providers on the disabling pain it causes.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Association of America


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