Find Relief In Our CRPS Treatment Centers
Severe, constant pain in one limb, could be a sign of CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). This is a rare condition often described as an abnormal response to an injury or trauma. There are two types: type 1, or RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), and type 2, known as causalgia. We can help you manage CRPS in our treatment centers.
CRPS usually appears as a burning pain in one limb. It often produces sweating, swelling, stiffness, sensitivity, and changes of color, texture, and/or temperature of the skin.
Type 1 (RSD)
Doesn’t involve nerve damage. Appears after a trauma that didn't directly affect the nerves in the limb.
Type 2 (Causalgia)
Presents evidence of nerve damage after a trauma in the affected limb.
Some of CRPS Symptoms
Constant, burning pain, usually in one leg, foot, arm, or hand. Greater than what you could expect from the injury. The affected limb may also feel stiff.
Variations in the color and texture of the skin, temperature alterations, increased sweating. You may notice alterations in hair and nail growth.
The affected limb may also present extreme sensitivity to touch or cold, as well as swelling, weakness, spasms, and loss of mobility.
Treating CRPS With Spinal Cord Stimulation
CRPS pain management depends on an accurate diagnosis. In our CRPS treatment centers, one of the procedures our specialists may recommend is spinal cord stimulation, depending on your case. This minimally invasive treatment consists of inserting a small device under the skin that disrupts pain signals before they get to the brain.
SCS is especially helpful in cases when other treatments - lifestyle changes, physical therapies, medication… - haven’t been effective.
Important Facts about Spinal Cord Stimulation
At our pain treatment centers, we perform this procedure using small incisions. It doesn’t carry significant risks.
You’ll receive a remote control so you can adjust the amount of electrical stimulation. You may also turn the device on or off.
How it works
SCS doesn’t treat the underlying conditions but provides effective pain relief. It uses electrical pulses to block pain signals.
FAQ About Spinal Cord Stimulation
When should I see a doctor about CRPS?
You should see a doctor if you experience any of the mentioned symptoms (pain, stiffness, skin changes, swelling...) and they interfere with your well-being.
Besides SCS, there are several other therapies that can help you overcome these symptoms and improve your quality of life.
How does spinal cord stimulation treat CRPS?
New treatments for CRPS include Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS).
This is a minimally invasive procedure in which we implant a small device under the skin. The system delivers electrical stimulation to the nerves in the spinal cord. This “disguises” pain signals coming from the affected limb, replacing them with a soft tingling sensation, or with no sensation at all.
This is often the best option, especially for CRPS patients who have already tried other therapies without success.
What are the benefits of SCS?
- It’s a minimally invasive procedure.
- Delivers targeted and significant long-term pain relief.
- Reduces the use of opioids.
- It’s a reversible procedure.
- Avoids the need for pain medicine.
- Allows for increased levels of mobility.
- The spinal cord stimulator can work for several years.
- You can control the amount of pain relief.
- It is a very safe procedure.
How is the SCS procedure performed?
Your doctor should decide whether this is the best therapy for you.
This is an outpatient procedure that lasts about 1 or 2 hours. During the procedure, the doctor starts by giving you a local anesthetic. Then, they’ll make two incisions: one for the generator and another one to insert the electrodes.
A fluorescent imaging technique is used to determine where electrodes are placed. After the electrodes and generator are connected and running, your surgeon will close the incisions.
You will have a trial for 5 to 7 days. In most cases, you will only need to make one incision in your lower back during the trial procedure. The battery or generator will be located outside the body.
This trial will help us evaluate if the spinal cord stimulator is effective for you. We consider that the trial was successful if it reduces at least 50% of the pain.
Each device is specifically set up for each patient. You will also receive a remote control, so you can adjust the intensity of the signals, turn on and off the system, among other functionalities.
How effective is spinal cord stimulation in managing CPRS?
Studies show that spinal cord stimulation can significantly decrease CPRS pain by more than 50%. In fact, it’s more effective than other therapies.
Is spinal cord stimulation safe?
Spinal cord stimulation therapy is very safe. There are some risks, such as bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to the device.
Are there possible complications after a spinal cord stimulator procedure?
The risks of spinal cord stimulator surgery are rare, but no procedure is risk-free. Some of the possible complications include:
- Migration of the device
- Damage to the device
- Severe headaches
- Nerve injury
Will people see the implant?
The system is discretely implanted in the most convenient location for you, so it won’t be visible to others. You may be able to feel it if you press the area.
How is the recovery after an SCS procedure?
Most patients go back home the same day of the implantation.
You could feel pain in the sites of the incisions several days after the procedure. You will have them covered with a bandage, which will be removed after about three days. Incisions usually heal after two to four weeks.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations to ensure a fast recovery. After your procedure, you should limit your activity for several weeks.
Am I a good candidate for SCS?
Spinal Cord Stimulation can be a great option for patients with chronic pain conditions that are not related to pain, including CRPS, sciatica, abdominal pain, back pain, among others.
To find out if Spinal Cord Stimulation is right for you, your doctor might ask you to take some imaging tests.
However, SCS might not be right for you if you are pregnant, have a pacemaker, a psychiatric disorder, or a high risk of surgical complications. Let your doctor know if you have any of these conditions.
How is it living with a spinal cord stimulator?
A spinal cord stimulation usually provides significant pain relief and helps patients recover their quality of life and go back to the activities they enjoy.
Nevertheless, life with an implant can be challenging. It can take some time to adjust to living with a spinal cord stimulator. These are some tips you should keep in mind:
- Keep your remote control handy so you can achieve the right level of relief regardless of where you are and what you're doing.
- Spinal cord stimulators should not be uncomfortable or painful. However, you should avoid abrupt movements or changes of position to avoid electrical impulses intensifying.
- Avoid activities that put too much pressure on the area of the stimulator.
- If you notice your device isn’t working properly, let your doctor know immediately.
- Go to all your therapy appointments.
- Follow all your doctor’s instructions.
- Remember you could still feel some pain after the procedure.
- Avoid driving while your spinal cord stimulation is turned on, as electrical pulses may be distracting.
If you are traveling, X-ray machines at the airport may detect your spinal cord stimulator. Your doctor will give you a medical identification card you should take with you.
When should I replace my spinal cord stimulator?
Battery life determines how long a spinal cord stimulator should be replaced.
Devices with non-rechargeable batteries need to be replaced every two to five years. Rechargeable devices have a lifespan of ten years or more.
Can I use SCS to treat pain in different areas?
The device can help you alleviate the pain in different areas. Our specialists can set it based on your needs, so you can use the remote to control pain in different zones.
What pain conditions can be treated with a spinal cord stimulator?
Besides CRPS/RSD, SCS can be used to treat a wide range of pain conditions, such as:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Failed back surgery
- Nerve pain
- Back pain
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Visceral abdominal pain and perineal pain
What happens if I leave CRPS untreated?
If not treated, CRPS can spread. Also, this can lead to serious problems, such as atrophy and muscle tightening.
You may also experience loss of muscle, increased pain, and even psychological problems like anxiety and depression.
What other treatments are there for CRPS?
There are different ways to treat regional pain syndrome CRPS. CRPS/RSD must be treated individually. Treatment aims to relieve pain and restore function.
Besides spinal cord stimulation, some of the available therapies for CRPS/RSD are:
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Nerve blocks
- Use of pain medication
- Local anesthetic creams
- Pain injections