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You may be experiencing symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in one of your limbs, such as altered sensitivity to temperature or the feeling of not having full control. It may look different in colour and texture to unaffected limbs.
If you think you may be suffering from CRPS and wish to make a compensation claim or explore whether it is possible to make a claim, please contact the team for a free discussion.
How we can help…
Your lawyer will work with you to establish a link to the accident or trauma that caused CRPS. They will help you ascertain whether CRPS resulted from negligence or a breach of duty by a third party that owed you a duty of care.
Our lawyers have many years of experience helping individuals claim compensation for CRPS. We understand that it takes time for CRPS to be diagnosed and that you may be concerned about making a compensation claim. Although CRPS cases are often difficult to establish and third parties are unlikely to admit liability, our team will work with medical professionals to strengthen your case and can offer expert guidance throughout the process.
We can discuss your case either in person, over the phone or by email, either within or outside normal working hours.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms where pain in a limb (usually a single limb) is the major problem.
Sometimes a link can be made to an accident or trauma to the limb, but for a significant proportion of sufferers no such link can be made. There is only usually a civil claim to be made if the accident or trauma was caused because of the negligence or breach of duty of a third party, but for which the injury would probably never have happened. For example, it is known that CRPS can arise as a complication of surgery or from a fracture or injury that was not caused by the fault of a third party.
Usually following an injury or trauma such as a fracture, the limb will start to heal and the pain lessens with time and treatment. However in a minority of cases CRPS develops and the sufferer will not improve as expected but will continue to experience pain and often other symptoms at the site of the injury. Sometimes the site of the pain spreads throughout the surrounding tissue area or even to other limbs.
Often sufferers feel frustrated and unhappy that they are not believed because their injury is not improving in response to normal treatment and pain killers, as their medical experts have advised it would and should. CRPS is difficult to diagnose and often the process of diagnosis involved systematically excluding all other possible causes of the pain and symptoms.
Insurers and Defendants are usually sceptical and fight CRPS cases hard.
Often the sufferer will complain of altered sensitivity to temperature and the limb may feel hot – when examined with heat sensitive cameras it will be hot compared with the rest of the body. The limb can look different in colour and texture to other limbs that are not affected.
Often the affected limb can also feel different to unaffected limbs, for example an individual complaining of CRPS in the hand may complain of feeling clumsy and of the sensation of not having full control of the limb: they may drop things including potentially dangerous things such as hot mugs or saucepans.
CRPS can be difficult to diagnose as there is no single diagnostic test and no cure currently exists.
Rheumatologists will sometimes classify CRPS into two types based on whether there is objective evidence of damage to a major nerve. The more common is type 1 where there is no objective nerve damage. The less common is type 2 where there is evidence of nerve damage but the symptoms nevertheless are out of proportion to the extent of damage.
Research has shown that the average timescale between onset of symptoms and diagnosis is currently two years. The normal 3 year limitation period from the accident date within which a claim must be made will still apply however, and it is important to seek legal help from a solicitor experienced in dealing with CRPS cases as soon as possible.
Expert diagnosis and early help from a specialist medical team is critical to reduce the long-term effects of this painful condition which can have a significant impact on an individual, affecting all areas of their life and that of their family and is classified as a serious injury.
There is a good deal of current research into CRPS and advances in treatment are constantly being made. The National Centre of the Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases in Bath is at the forefront of this research.
An international conference was held in Budapest in 2003 with a view to clarifying the diagnostic criteria as follows:
(A-D must apply; ‘sign’ is where the medical practitioner can see or feel a problem; ‘symptom’ is where the patient reports a problem.)
A) The patient has continuing pain which is disproportionate to any inciting event.
B) The patient has at least one sign in two or more of the categories.
C) The patient reports at least one symptom in three or more of the categories.
D) No other diagnosis can better explain the signs and symptoms.
1. ‘Sensory’ – allodynia (to light touch and/or temperature sensation and/or deep somatic pressure and/or joint movement) and/or hyperalgesia (to pinprick).
2. ‘Vasomotor’ – temperature asymmetry and/or skin colour changes and/or skin colour asymmetry. The medical practitioner must notice a temperature asymmetry of > 1°C.
3. ‘Sudomotor/oedema’ – oedema and/or sweating changes and/or sweating asymmetry.
4. ‘Motor/trophic’ – decreased range of motion and/or motor dysfunction (weakness, tremor, dystonia) and/or trophic changes (hair/nail/skin).