Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Workers' Compensation / Disability Claims for CRPS
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), is a nerve disorder that causes chronic pain. CRPS can affect any area of the body, but often affects an arm, leg, hand or wrist.
Workers who are injured on the job may sustain CRPS. Often, workers who have CRPS have sustained a traumatic injury. In some cases, workers first notice symptoms of CRPS after surgery. Symptoms of CRPS include:
- Severe pain
- Skin issues (e.g. skin becomes red, shiny or warm to the touch)
- Hair issues (e.g. hair loss or sudden hair growth)
Causes of CRPS
The cause of complex regional pain syndrome isn't fully understood, though it has been linked to injuries or abnormalities of the peripheral or central nervous systems which trigger inappropriate inflammatory responses. In many cases, CRPS occurs after a person suffers an injury.
Types of trauma which may lead to CRPS include:
Types of CRPS
Complex regional pain syndrome can develop in two different types. While their signs and symptoms are similar, their causes are different.
- Type 1: Commonly referred to as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD), this type of CRPS develops after a fairly trivial illness or injury which did not directly cause nerve damage, such as a sprained ankle. It is estimated that nearly 90% of people with CRPS have type 1.
- Type 2: This type of CRPS has very similar symptoms to type 1 but develops after an injury with clear evidence of nerve damage, such as a broken bone, surgery, or severe infection. This type of CRPS was formerly referred to as causalgia.
If left untreated, CRPS can progress to more debilitating complications such as tissue atrophy or muscle tightening. It is important to seek medical attention at the first sign of any of these symptoms.
Workers' Compensation Benefits for CRPS
Workers' compensation provides wage and medical benefits for workers who have sustained a work-related injury or illness, including those who have developed CRPS. Benefits that may be available to you include wage loss benefits, medical care, necessary work retraining and permanent partial disability benefits.
It is important to note that a diagnosis of CRPS does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits; you will need to be able to prove that your CRPS has affected your daily activities and ability to work to collect disability. Since the physiological and biological forces and effects of CRPS are not fully understood by doctors and scientists, disability cases involving this condition can be highly complex and often require the expertise of a trained attorney to be successful.
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