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Written on 12th September 2017 by Claire Roantree

At Boyes Turner, we see a number of chronic pain cases, including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, one of the most painful types of pain. In our experience, clients develop CRPS after fractures, soft tissue injuries or burns which usually involve extensive swelling and lead to an abnormal neurological pain response that magnifies the effect of their original injury.

For example, one client had severe cuts which caused swelling to his carpel tunnel. He required a carpel tunnel decompression operation which led to CRPS. In other cases, our clients have sustained fractures which lead to compartment syndrome requiring fasciotomy to reduce the swelling which in turn leads to the development of CRPS. Burns victims and clients undergoing surgery, or whose fractured limbs are immobilised in a cast, splint or brace, can also go on to develop CRPS.

The condition is caused by damage or dysfunction of the peripheral and/or central nervous system and an inappropriate neuro-inflammatory response. Symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and have a profound effect on the sufferer’s life, interfering with their daily activities and ability to work.

If, after an injury, you or a loved one experience the following symptoms, you should tell your doctor and ask to be referred to a pain specialist:

  • stabbing, throbbing or burning pain
  • pins and needles
  • pain and sensitivity if the affected area is touched
  • changes to skin temperature or colour (mottled or discoloured)
  • swelling
  • alteration in hair or nail growth
  • stiffness, reduced mobility or muscle spasms

As a consequence of having to cope long-term with severe pain and impaired ability functioning, our clients often suffer additional psychological injury. The actual symptoms may result in low mood and depression or the injury may have been caused in traumatic circumstances giving rise to psychiatric conditions, such as post traumatic stress disorder. For some it will be a combination of both. Treatment is likely to require a multidisciplinary team approach involving a consultant in pain medicine, a clinical psychologist specialising in pain and a physiotherapist specialising in treatment of pain conditions. In our experience, where clients have experienced a traumatic response to an accident, this needs to be treated first to achieve the best results from a pain management program.

Claire Roantree, Partner in the Personal Injury team, says, 

“CRPS cases are complex and a clear diagnosis is required, therefore it is important to instruct a solicitor who has experience in dealing with pain cases and understands CRPS. At Boyes Turner, we instruct leading medical experts in the diagnosis of CRPS and we work with excellent rehabilitation providers and multidisciplinary teams who understand chronic pain conditions like CRPS, to ensure that our clients receive rehabilitation and pain management treatment that is tailored to their individual needs. Often there is no cure for this condition but with a good pain management program, we can help our clients manage their pain better in order to minimise the impact on their daily life.”