What is Causalgia?

In Pain Management

Causalgia, or CRPS II, common in elective foot and ankle surgeries, affecting approximately 1.8 percent of post-surgical patients.

Are you suffering from long-lasting, intense pain after a nerve injury? If so, you’ve likely been through the wringer when trying to find pain solutions that work. Many nerve injuries, and the chronic pain that often comes with them, go undiagnosed and thus untreated for many years. If you’re struggling to find solutions, you may be suffering from a rare but treatable condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type II (CRPS II), or causalgia.

CRPS II is a neurological disorder that causes intense pain radiating from the extremities. Typically caused by a trauma or injury to the peripheral nerves, this type of pain is rare and can be difficult to diagnose. However, with the help of a pain specialist, you may be able to find long-lasting solutions to reduce or even eliminate your pain.

What is Causalgia?

Causalgia, or CRPS II, is a very rare chronic pain condition, affecting less than one in 100,000 Americans on average. This condition occurs when one of the peripheral nerves (nerves in your arms, legs, and other extremities) is injured in a fracture, sprain, surgical procedure, or other trauma. This condition is unfortunately common in elective foot and ankle surgeries, affecting approximately 1.8 percent of post-surgical patients. Other causes of CRPS II include:

  • Burn incidents and other soft-tissue trauma
  • Crushing injuries and fractures
  • Injuries to the brachial plexus
  • Amputation

It is not fully known why some patients develop CRPS II after injuries and others do not. It is believed that some patients may have abnormalities in the structure and lining of their nerves, or that some patients experience more inflammation in the nerves, which in turn causes hypersensitivity to the pain.

Symptoms of CRPS II

CRPS II has similar symptoms regardless of whether it occurs in the arms, legs, neck, or other extremities. Most patients report one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Burning or aching in a particular muscle or joint in the body
  • “Pins and needles” feeling in the affected area
  • Pain lasting longer than six months that seems disproportionate to the injury the patient experienced
  • Hypersensitivity to touch surrounding the injury
  • Swelling or stiffness in one or more areas of the body
  • Changes in skin color or temperature in the affected area

Unfortunately, because these symptoms seem disproportionate to the original injury, CRPS II patients are often not heard by their doctors and peers, as it is assumed they simply have a low pain tolerance. But this is not true, and those experiencing intense pain after an injury should seek help for their chronic pain to ensure it gets treated promptly.

How CRPS II is Diagnosed and Treated

Most CRPS II patients are diagnosed through patient history, a physical examination, and a series of tests including MRIs and X-ray scans to understand the point of origin of the pain. Physical examinations may be difficult to perform due to the level of pain experienced by the patient. However, the physician must first eliminate more common causes of pain such as fibromyalgia to effectively treat CRPS II.

Treatment for CRPS II is multi-faceted and will include a variety of methods tailored to your needs and pain experience. Common treatments for CRPS II include:

  • OTC and prescription pain medications
  • Traditional physical therapy
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a type of physical therapy that sends electrical impulses through the body to block pain signals.
  • Heat therapy

PPOA offers a variety of approaches to treating CRPS II, ranging from at-home remedies to interventional therapy that can create lasting pain relief. If you are interested in consulting with a pain specialist about your CRPS II or chronic pain after an injury, contact us today.


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