Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Lawyers in Austin

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Common Reflex Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, is a chronic, disabling, systemic disease that is characterized by severe pain, swelling and changes in skin color and temperature.  It is an extremely painful and progressive syndrome that is often caused by injury to a peripheral nerve.

CRPS is known to affect both males and females, but is three times more likely to occur in females versus males; the reason for this is unknown. According to the National Institute of Health, the average age for contracting CRPS is 40, but it has been diagnosed in children as young as two years old.


There are two types of CRPS: Type I and Type II. The symptoms of either type will usually start at or near the site of an injury, and can be either minor or major with no way to predict which type of CRPS is going to evolve; while CRPS Type II is localized, CRPS Type I can spread throughout the body and wreak havoc on the system.

Symptoms will often include burning pain, extreme swelling, increased sweating, muscle spasms, softening of the bones, joint tenderness and stiffness, difficulty with movement and changes in the nails and skin. One very visible sign of CRPS is warm, shiny red skin that later turns cool and bluish in color.

Many of the symptoms of CRPS are related to the body’s aberrant, or abnormal, response to any type of tissue or nerve injury. For unknown reasons, it causes an interruption in the body’s natural ability to heal via renewal of tissue along with the removal of waste product (i.e. inflammation) by way of the blood filtering system. CRPS will often start in an arm or a leg and then spread throughout the entire body. It has many clinical features that may be associated to the syndrome including:

Neurogenic inflammation

Caused by an injury that can result in a flaring of the inflammatory response of the nerves and tissues surrounding the injury. It can affect the ability to heal by compromising vascular permeability or the ability of the blood to cleanse the area of waste products and inflammation.

Vasomotor dysfunction

The inability of the body to regulate the dilation or constriction of the blood vessels; also related to the filtering of waste via the blood.

Extreme sensitivity

the phenomena of being abnormally susceptible or sensitive to any outside stimuli or injury.

Maladaptive neuroplasticity

the inability of the brain to organically reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.


The prognosis for CRPS can vary from person to person. Most children, teenagers and adults experience full recovery, while on occasion; some are left with painful, crippling, and irreversible symptoms. Anecdotal evidence suggests that early treatment is helpful in limiting the length and severity of CRPS, but there are no clinical studies as yet to back up that hypothesis.