You sustain an injury, it heals, and yet the pain continues. Not only that, but your severe pain is joined by swelling, muscle aches, changes in your skin, and a host of other symptoms. If this sounds familiar, chances are you have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). When you need help with this progressive disease, you can depend on the expertise of Humam Akbik, MD, at Cincinnati Comprehensive Pain Center. For a consultation, call the office in Fairfield, Ohio, or complete the online contact form and a staff member will call you to arrange an appointment.


What is complex regional pain syndrome?

CRPS is a chronic pain syndrome that usually affects one limb. There are two types of CRPS. Type 1 develops after an injury such as a fracture or soft tissue injury, while type 2 is caused by nerve damage.

Both types of CRPS have the same symptoms, and their hallmark symptom is pain that persists long after the original injury heals. The ongoing pain is also disproportionate to the original injury.

What symptoms develop due to CRPS?

The primary symptom is prolonged pain that’s often severe and may be constant. Your pain may feel like a burning or pins and needles sensation. In many cases, the pain spreads to include your entire leg or arm even when the original injury only affected a toe or finger.

The affected area often becomes hypersensitive such that a light touch feels painful. The nerve damage responsible for CRPS also affects nerves that control blood vessels. As a result, your skin color, texture, and temperature may intermittently change.

You may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Swelling in the affected limb
  • Abnormal sweating in the surrounding areas
  • Changes in nail and hair growth
  • Joint stiffness

Over time, you may develop progressive muscle symptoms such as loss of coordination, spasms, and muscle atrophy.

How is CRPS treated?

Your treatment may include any combination of over-the-counter pain relievers, topical analgesics to reduce sensitivity, prescription steroids to reduce inflammation, and medication to prevent bone loss. You may also need physical therapy to maintain muscle strength and movement.

When you need more pain relief than is provided by conventional treatments, Dr. Akbik may recommend one of the following interventional options:

Proclaim™ DRG Neurostimulator System (Abbott)

On the way to delivering pain messages to your brain, sensory nerves triggered by your CRPS pass through a bundle of nerves at the spinal cord called the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). After Dr. Akbik implants the Proclaim DRG Neurostimulator System, it continuously sends a mild electrical impulse into the DRG. As the electrical impulse blocks nerve signals at the DRG, pain messages don’t reach your brain, and your pain is relieved.

Sympathetic nerve block

A sympathetic nerve block also targets spinal ganglions. Dr. Akbik uses fluoroscopic imaging to guide a needle into the targeted ganglion, then injects a local anesthetic to block the nerve signals. The blockage usually lasts several hours beyond when the anesthetic wears off. With additional injections, you’ll get longer-lasting relief.

If you develop ongoing pain or swelling in a hand, arm, foot, or leg, call Cincinnati Comprehensive Pain Center or fill out the online contact form and a team member will call you.