New Guidelines Cite the Need for Better Support for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Patients

According to a story from the Royal College of Physicians, the organization has chosen to release new guidelines regarding the treatment of patients with complex regional pain syndrome, a potentially debilitating rare disease that can lead to substantial harm without prompt intervention. These guidelines highlight the fact that current approaches for care and treatment are insufficient, and many caregivers are woefully uninformed about the best standards of care.

About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is a disorder that affects a portion of the body, typically a limb. However, it can spread without treatment, and about 35 percent of patients report system-wide effects. The precise cause is not entirely understood, but the syndrome usually appears after surgery, heart attack, injury, or stroke. Prior nerve injury, smoking, and hemiplegia appear to increase the risk of getting complex regional pain syndrome. Symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome develop depending on the progression of the disease. Early symptoms include severe pain, restricted movement of the affected limb, spasms, joint stiffness, and rapid nail and hair growth. These evolve into worsening pain, swelling, nail damage, muscle atrophy, thickened joints, and osteoporosis. Pain can continue to worsen and result in permanent damage to the skin and bones. Treatment involves therapy, surgery, and medications, and must be conducted promptly. To learn more about complex regional pain syndrome, click here.

About The Guidelines

The new guidelines highlight four areas of focus for treatment and care for complex regional pain syndrome patients, including physical rehabilitation, psychological intervention, pain relief, and education about the illness. The guidelines also emphasize the value of a fast paced diagnostic and treatment process, as early intervention makes a huge difference in outcomes and can help patients avoid the potentially severe complications of complex regional pain syndrome.


The report also references some extreme scenarios. For example, for some patients, the pain from complex regional pain syndrome can become so extreme and agonizing that they may request that the affected limb be amputated. The guidelines advise that this be avoided if at all possible, as it can worsen the disease.

The Royal College of Physicians released the guidelines with the support of 28 other medical organizations. You can download a copy of the new guidelines here.

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