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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Is Excruciating and Often Undiagnosed. Can You Identify and Treat It?
By: Nataliya Zlotnikov, MSc, HBSc

How Much Do We Really Know About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?

"Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a term for a variety of clinical conditions characterized by chronic persistent pain. It is a condition that can develop after a limb trauma and appears mostly in one or more limbs. CRPS can be considered a regional post-traumatic neuropathic pain problem, and like other neuropathic pain disorders, symptoms are a disproportionate consequence of painful trauma or nerve lesion."

-Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Physiopedia

Physiopedia also adds that "It is difficult to manage CRPS as there is a lack of understanding of the pathophysiologic abnormalities, a lack of specific diagnostic criteria and very low-quality evidence to treat CRPS."

Maybe we don't know as much as we think we do about CRPS? Maybe it's that lack of diagnostic and treatment knowledge that has patients feeling like this? (see images below)

How Do CRPS Patients Feel?

There are no words to describe how reading these makes me (and I'm certain all of you) feel. As I read this, I hope that neither I, nor my future patients, nor anyone else, will ever have to endure this level of agonizing pain and frustration. Yet, I also know that that is just not the current state of affairs: it is estimated that CRPS affects nearly 200,000 patients annually in the United States.  It is a condition and situation we would not wish on our worst enemies. 

We invite you to also take a look at this eye-opening, harrowing article, Living with CRPS, an excruciating chronic pain condition that can ‘happen to anyone’, to gain a deeper understanding of the realities that those living with CRPS are dealing with. 

How Do I Diagnose CRPS?

It is overwhelmingly clear that there is a great need for high-level diagnoses and treatments for CRPS. Dr. Bahram Jam, founder and director of Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute (APTEI), specializes in pain. 

Watch this short video from one of Bahram Jam's courses, APTEI: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome 101, to learn about the signs and symptoms of CRPS.

CRPS: Signs and Symptoms

Want to learn more? Check out this full online healthcare course by following the link below.


Learn About CRPS With Bahram


In This Online Healthcare Course, You Will Learn:

1) A number of clinical facts on CRPS and the potential challenges with diagnosing and treating patients with this condition

2) The latest guidelines for diagnosing CRPS

3) Several PT management options for CRPS such as:

  • Re-assurance of recovery 
  • Encouragement to functionally use the extremity 
  • Appropriate pain education
  • Graded Motor Imagery (GMI)
  • Pain Exposure Therapy 
  • Graded Sensory Exposure 
  • Brain Visualization

Neuroplasticity to Treat CRPS 

In his course, Bahram talks about various CRPS treatment options, here is a sneak peek of one of these: Brain Visualization, suggested by Dr. Michael Moskowitz

Dr. Moskowitz presents a revolutionary treatment for the millions of people suffering from persistent pain by using the brain's neuroplasticity. 

To practice brain visualization on yourself, as well as to learn more about this and the other CRPS management options, check out Bahram's course.

Treating CRPS with Bahram


What We Don't Know, Can Hurt Our Patients 

There is currently a big knowledge gap in our understanding of CRPS and consequently our diagnoses and treatments. Research is being done to decrease this gap, however, in the meantime, it is our task as healthcare practitioners to learn as much as we can about CRPS in order to truly help our chronic pain patients to the best of our abilities. 


More Knowledge, More Power, Less Pain

If you found this subject and course fascinating, take a look at some of the other online physiotherapy courses from Bahram Jam on Embodia such as: 

You can also check out all of the pain education online healthcare course offered on Embodia by following the link below:

Pain education courses on Embodia


Wishing you and your patients, a pain-free (or pain-manageable) day.

Bahram Jam (he/him)

Bahram is a physiotherapist and founder of the Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute (APTEI). He's taught 1000+ continuing education courses to healthcare professionals across Canada & internationally.

He has instructed over one thousand post-graduate orthopaedic and pain science courses and has been a guest presenter at several physiotherapy and medical conferences across Canada and internationally.

His primary clinical approach is to identify relevant functional impairments and determine the best self-management strategy to maximize patient independence.

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