Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a neurological condition that causes severe, chronic pain in one arm, leg, hand, and feet. The pain associated with CRPS is normally severe and unrelenting and can significantly impact your quality of life or lead to severe impairment.
CRPS is thought to be caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system or changes in how the brain processes pain signals. Apart from the unrelenting pain, other common symptoms of CRPS include:
- Swelling and stiffness in the joints
- Skin discoloration
- Changes in temperature
- Excessive sweating
- Tremors and muscle weakness
- Abnormal hair and nail growth
- Sensitivity to touch and changes in temperature
- Changes in skin temperature, color, and texture
- Swelling or edema in the affected limb or body part
- Decreased range of motion or loss of mobility
- Brain fog/cognitive difficulties
- Psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance
- Fatigue or difficulty sleeping
Although there is no outright cure for CRPS, seeking professional treatment can help you effectively manage symptoms, improve your quality of life, and prevent the condition from progressing and becoming more devastating.
Helping Someone Cope With CRPS
Here are some practical ways you can help someone who has been diagnosed with CRPS:
- Educate yourself about CRPS
The first step towards providing support to someone with CRPS is educating yourself about the condition. As with any medical condition, the more you know about it, the better equipped you are to provide positive support and assistance.
- Be patient and understanding
People living with CRPS need patience and understanding from those around them. While some days are better than others, on bad days, they may not be able to do even the simplest of tasks. Accepting this fact and being there to pick up the slack can make a huge difference for somebody with CRPS.
When someone is living with chronic pain, it can be easy to feel alone or misunderstood. And in most cases having someone to share your frustrations with can be a great source of relief and comfort.
- Offer practical assistance
It can be difficult for people with severe chronic pain to keep up with work and everyday chores at home. Offering your assistance in practical ways – such as running errands on their behalf or taking over household chores – can help lighten their load and make their days more manageable.
- Be an advocate for self-care and positive coping strategies
Living with chronic pain can be exhausting both physically and mentally. As such, it’s important to encourage self-care routines like getting adequate sleep, eating well-balanced meals, exercising regularly (if able), and engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga or meditation for improved overall quality of life.
- Encourage them to seek psychological counseling
CRPS can take its toll on a person’s emotional and psychological well-being or lead to depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. If your loved one is feeling overwhelmed, encourage them to speak to a mental health professional who can help them manage their emotions and lower stress levels in a healthy way.
- Take care of yourself
It’s important to remember that taking care of someone with CRPS can be physically and emotionally draining, so remember to recharge as well. Whether that means turning to your own social support system or simply getting a massage to reduce stress and tension – a little tender loving care can go a long way in keeping your energy levels up so you can continue to be there for the people who need you.
The Bottom Line
Living with CRPS can be incredibly challenging, but with the right support from family and friends, it is possible to live a full life despite the condition. The above tips are just some of the ways you can provide support to your loved one with CRPS and help them manage their symptoms more effectively. Remember that your presence, understanding, and patience can go a long way in making their condition more manageable.