In some cases, surgical or chemical sympathectomy-interruption of the affected portion of the sympathetic nervous system-has been used to relieve pain. Surgical sympathectomy involves cutting the nerve or nerves, destroying the pain almost instantly. But surgery is controversial and may also destroy other sensations.
Some doctors try to control the pain with narcotics, primarily opioids, which can be helpful, but usually more are needed as the patient becomes more and more tolerant to the medications. Spinal Cord Stimulators are also an option. Typically a trial is done to see if the patient gets any relief. If so, a small rechargable battery and leads are implanted into the spine in order to provide relief to the affected limb. There are many people this helps and others who have not had as great success.
A more extreme approach to treating CRPS/RSD is a ketamine coma. Currently only ketamine infusions are performed in the U.S. However, Germany and Monterrey, Mexico, both perform ketamine coma procedures. The patient is put into a 5-day coma, at which time large doses of ketamine are infused into them. It is believed to reset the parasympathetic nervous system and stop and or reduce the pain. Many people have undergone this treatment. It is very expensive, usually not covered by insurance, and the results have not warranted a cure. However, for many it has provided pain relief. If you want more information on the Ketamine coma or infusions please visit www.rsdfoundation.org.
Physicians have recommended several treatments to help those with CRPS/RSD. Although the pain does not go away, moving (yes, moving!) is probably one of the best ways to maintain tolerable levels of pain or reduce pain complaints. Walking, swimming, or low impact activity seems to keep the disease from getting worse, and also helps keep one's spirits up. Pilates, yoga or any light form of stretching are also known to be helpful. Some doctors promote applying extreme hot and cold to the extremites, essentially desensitizing the affected limb. Repeatedly hitting the limb with a object such as a noodle (for swimming) or some other object can help with pain. This procedure is performed at CHOPS.
To date, there is no treatment that is ideal for CRPS/RSD. Many treatment options can be tried, some better than others, but there is NO CURE. That is why we exist and that is why we are funding research for a CURE! Without everyone's help, we cannot get this accomplished. So please donate as much as you can, and as often as possible..
Click on each to learn more.
What are the treatments? (a brief overview)
Physical therapy is the mainstay of current treatment protocol. Physicians use a variety of drugs to treat CRPS/RSD, including but not limited to: corticosteroids, vasodilators, and alpha- or beta-adrenergic-blocking compounds. Elevation of the extremity may be helpful. Injection of a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, is sometimes used. Injections are repeated as needed. TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation), a procedure in which brief pulses of electricity are applied to nerve endings under the skin, has helped some patients in relieving chronic pain.
Treatments for CRPS/RSD are different for everyone. Where some sufferers find sucess, others do not. Treatments once considered helpful no longer are, and treatments that are new are having more and promising results. However, to date there is NO CURE. Ongoing research is needed to find a definitive cure for CRPS/RSD. The information listed below on this page is not an endorsment and is in no way endorsing your doctors medical advice.