CRPS Q & A
What is CRPS
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) often develops after an injury or surgery. Symptoms can also appear after a heart attack or stroke.
After your illness or injury, you may develop chronic pain in an arm or leg. In some cases, your pain may spread to your hand or foot. Many people with CRPS experience severe pain, even if their original injury was minor.
Doctors aren't sure what causes CRPS, and the condition is not well understood. Researchers currently believe that CRPS is linked to damage within the nervous system.
What are the symptoms of CRPS?
CRPS often affects just one limb. Symptoms may include:
- Changes in your skin's texture or color
- Changes in your skin temperature
- Changes in your limb's hair or nail growth
- Swelling or stiffness
- Coordination problems
- Tremors or jerking
You may feel burning or squeezing pain. Pins-and-needles sensations are also common. Symptoms might stay in one area or spread throughout the entire limb.
How is CRPS treated?
If you have CRPS, your doctor may suggest a variety of medications. Prescription drugs can sometimes help control your pain or reduce swelling.
Medication may work well for some people, but certain drugs can be risky. Many pain relievers carry a risk of dependence or overdose. Others build up a tolerance so that your medication wears off quickly.
If your current treatment plan hasn't resolved your pain, ketamine may help. Ketamine is a common anesthetic that can relieve chronic pain and depression. At Boston MindCare, PC, you can work with an expert anesthesiologist. The doctors at the practice have many years of experience administering ketamine.
How can ketamine relieve CRPS symptoms?
Ketamine is an anesthetic and a painkiller. In certain doses, it blocks pain signals and creates a feeling of relaxation. That's why ketamine is often used for patients undergoing surgery.
But the drug also works on NMDA receptors in your brain, blocking certain neurotransmitters. This effect allows your brain to create new pathways and generate new synapses. Your brain can then heal the damage caused by past illnesses and injuries.
Studies also show that ketamine may help lift your mood. If you struggle with depression, the drug may help you establish new, healthy thought patterns. But results can vary, depending on your starting dose and treatment method.
Your Boston MindCare, PC, provider works with you to choose the right approach. They also collect feedback throughout your treatment, adjusting your dose as necessary.