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You may be recovering from an injury or surgery on a limb when the pain begins. For others, the pain begins without a clear cause. This is called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The cause of CRPS is not well understood.
For some people, the pain, swelling, and stiffness can be much worse than the original injury. This pain can last a long time—months or even years. Although it is an unusual condition, it is very real. You may feel better on some days than on others. Your skin may become very sensitive, and it may look blotchy or shiny. You may have trouble moving the limb.
This condition sometimes goes away after some months. More likely, you will need a treatment plan to reduce symptoms and prevent permanent damage. You may have to try several treatments before you find what works best for you. In some cases, shots into the nerve area (nerve blocks) seem to reduce symptoms. Pain medicine is only one part of successful treatment. Physiotherapy and counselling can also help.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, or feeling hopeless, get help right away. Call your provincial suicide hotline or Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566, or go to www.crisisservicescanada.ca for more information.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: December 13, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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