First detailed writing dating back to 1861 from the medical journals of Dr. Mitchell. In 1872, American neurologist S. Weir Mitchell described a bizarre symptom complex resulting from wounds to peripheral nerves in his book. He writes a passage which states:
"Perhaps few persons who are not physicians can realize the influence which long-continued and unendurable pain may have on both body and mind. . . Under such torments the temper changes, the most amiable grow irritable, the bravest soldier becomes a coward, and the strongest man is scarcely less nervous than the most hysterical girl. Nothing can better illustrate the extent to which these statements may be true than the cases of burning pain, or, as I prefer to term it, Causalgia, the most terrible of all tortures which a nerve wound may inflict." Injuries of Nerves and Their Consequences (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott):
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), formerly Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) or Causalgia, Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy (RND) also known as Amplified Musculoskel (AMPS) is a chronic systemic disorder characterized by severe burning sensation, pain, swelling, and changes in the skin. CRPS is can to worsen over time if left untreated. Treatment is vital within the first 3 to 6 months and remember to take large doses of Vitamin C. It is believed to be a caused by damage from or a malfunction of the peripheral nervous system. Best discription is that of a computer going haywire and not shutting off, same with your brain and nerves. Your brain should be telling your nerves to shut down once the danger or injury is over, with CRPS your nerves stay on alert 24/7.
There are two classifications of CRPS, called CRPS-1 and CRPS-2, both are very similar in systems. CRPS-2 is the one that is classified by provable nerve damage. Both are treated with the same. Severity of the disorder varies from person to person. CRPS affects more women than men and can be caused by the smallest of injuries. Although there is no cure, most who develop CRPS will go into remission within time.
Basic characteristics often include:
*Severe burning sensation under the skin
*Changes in skin color; shinny or matte white, red, and purple.
*Changes in skin texture on the affected area; it may appear shiny and thin
*Abnormal sweating pattern in the affected area or surrounding areas
*Changes in skin temperature; Extreme heat radiating from body or cold to the touch
*Changes in nail and hair growth patterns. Often includes ridging or brittle nails
*Stiffness in affected joints
*Problems coordinating muscle movement, with decreased ability to move the affected body part, and
*Abnormal movement in the affected limb, most often fixed abnormal posture (called dystonia) but also tremors in or jerking of the affected limb.
*Extreme sensitivity to touch; even the slightest breeze or dust particle
*Extreme sensitivity to light or sound
There is no pain as deep, severe, and as intense as that of CRPS. On the McGill pain scale of 1-50, CRPS (causalgia) ranks 42 and above. CONTINUOUSLY. Imagine having a body part amputated this ranks a 39 on the scale. This pain, although close to that of CRPS, with pain medication and time, heals and is gone. You may be left with adjustments to the missing part but no pain (unless you develop CRPS). Childbirth on the same scale ranks a solid 35-39 for a 3 to 48 hour period, then you are handed a beautiful bundle of joy, and set of problems, but no pain. Fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, cancer are all in the 20's and 30's on the scale of pain. A fracture, a toothache, a migraine, all of these issues have differing lengths of pain time, but not necessarily continuous, and there are possibilities if relief. The same can actually be said for CRPS in some cases, your body can go into remission on its own, for untreated and severe cases like Heidi's, the pain is 24/7, with no relief, and covers her whole body. Heidi says she literally feels like she's living in hell! Its as if someone took a syringe and sucked all the blood out of me, the refilled my veins with battery acids and set them on fire. To make matters worse, Heidi, also suffers from fibromyalgia and arthritis in her back. Pain on top of Pain! But, there is hope thanks to doctors like the ones at CPMC and we will keep reaching for it.