Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/ Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a malfunction of the nervous system that causes long-lasting, severe pain and other problems – symptoms typically occur in the arms, legs, feet or hands. CRPS usually affects a part of a body that has previously suffered some sort of injury or traumatic event. Triggers of CRPS can be as minor as a vaccine, or as serious as a heart attack.
Although CRPS is now the official name of this syndrome, it has gone by many other names in the past, which you may have heard at some point.
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Reflex Sympathetic Disorder (RSD)
- Shoulder-Hand Syndrome
- Sudeck’s Atrophy
These names all describe the same condition, however most doctors today use the name “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome,” or CRPS. Patients who develop CRPS after receiving a vaccine may also be entitled to compensation from the federal government.
There are two type of CRPS:
CRPS Type 1: No detectable nerve damage
About 90 percent of people experience CRPS Type 1. CRPS Type 1 occurs after an illness or injury that doesn’t directly damage any nerves in your affected limb.
CRPS Type 2: Direct nerve damage
CRPS Type 2 happens when there is direct, confirmed damage to a nerve in the affected limb.
Can Vaccines Cause Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?
It’s not entirely clear why injuries and vaccines trigger CRPS only some of the time. However, what doctors do know is that CRPS is a lot like a food allergy. When you eat a food you’re allergic to, your immune system overreacts to something harmless and causes you pain or discomfort. The same is true for CRPS: Your nervous system randomly overreacts to a simple injury or vaccine, causing you to feel a lot more pain than you should.
A Look at the Research Linking CRPS and Vaccines
There are reports of patients developing CRPS after getting an immunization, especially HPV and hepatitis B vaccines. However, the exact cause of CRPS remains somewhat of a mystery.
Below is a list of studies linking different vaccines to CRPS. The studies referenced were all published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which forms part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- One study found four cases of CRPS “after hepatitis B vaccination in four grade-6 children.” The authors concluded that “the reaction may result from injection trauma” (Jastaniah et al).
- One study found that a large portion of patients experienced symptoms linked to CRPS after receiving HPV vaccines. The study was based on large clusters of data from VigiBase, which is “the World Health Organization (WHO) international database of suspected adverse drug reactions” (Chandler et al).
- Another study examined the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database for reports of CRPS. VAERS is a US program for vaccine safety, co-managed by the CDC and the FDA. This study found 22 cases of CRPS, and, “in 21 reports, the patient had received quadrivalent HPV vaccine; one report was for bivalent HPV vaccine” (Weinbaum et al).
- A Japanese study examined 40 girls who complained of abnormal symptoms after receiving the HPV vaccine. 18 girls met the criteria to be diagnosed with CRPS. Specifically, four of them met the official Japanese criteria for CRPS diagnosis, and 14 of them met other countries’ criteria for CRPS diagnosis (Kinoshita et al).
- A case report published in the Official Journal of the Japan Pediatrics Society describes the case of a 17-year-old girl who developed CRPS after receiving an influenza A (H1N1) vaccine (Kwun et al).
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What Are The Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?
Typically, the first symptom to show up is prolonged pain in a body part. Although CRPS usually affects a limb or extremity – like an arm, leg, foot, or hand – it can also affect a hip or shoulder. This pain may become more severe and frequent over time. In more sever cases, the pain can also spread across limbs.
In addition to prolonged, worsening pain, if you have CRPS, you may also experience these symptoms in your affected body part:
- Burning, throbbing, or “pins and needles” sensation
- Squeezing sensation
- Increased sensitivity: Extreme pain from regular/light contact with skin
- Abnormal changes in skin temperature: affected limb may be unusually hot or cold
- Changes in skin color: skin may become pale, bluish, reddish, purplish, spotted or blotchy
- Changes in skin texture: skin may become unusually tender, thin or shiny
- Muscle spasms
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Decreased mobility or stiffness
- Abnormal sweating
If you experience one or more of these symptoms in a part of your body after receiving a vaccine, you may have CRPS. You should talk to your doctor about your symptoms and medical history. Additionally, you should contact a lawyer with experience representing victims in the Federal Vaccine Court.
How is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Diagnosed?
There is no one test that can diagnose CRPS. However, a combination of procedures can help your physician give you an accurate diagnosis. These procedures usually include some combination of the following:
- A bone scan
- MRI scans
- A sympathetic nervous systems test (which looks for disturbances in your nervous system)
- Examination of skin temperature, blood flow, and sweat between affected and unaffected limbs
Additionally, if you suspect that you have CRPS from an injection, you should also make sure to mention your vaccination history to your doctor in order to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
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How is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Treated?
The symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome vary from person to person. Because of this, there is a wide variety of treatments, medication and therapies used in treating CRPS. Fortunately, victims of CRPS can make full recoveries, but early diagnosis is the key.
Some of the most common treatment methods for CRPS include:
- Pain Relievers
- Bone loss-blocking medications
- Nerve-blocking medications
- Intravenous (injected) ketamine
- Hot and cold applications
- Physical therapy
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Nerve stimulation
What to do if you have (or think you have) CRPS triggered by a vaccine:
Victims of CRPS experience chronic pain and their life can be very challenging. It’s important to find qualified medical advice and help as soon as possible. So, if you feel that you got CRPS from an injection, contact a lawyer experienced in representing victims in the Federal Vaccine Court. Filing a vaccine injury claim is very complicated.
There are no legal costs for an injured patient represented by Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A.
When your case is complete, our attorneys ask the Court for reimbursement of the fees and costs incurred representing you. This reimbursement is separate from any money that you are awarded by the Federal Vaccine Court. You never have to share ANY portion of your money for damages with our law firm.
If you would like more information, please fill out the online vaccine form on this page or call our offices toll free at (888) 952-5242 for a free case evaluation.
Jastaniah et al https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14657832
Chandler et al https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209415/
Weinbaum, Cano https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588370/
Kwun et al https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1442-200X.2011.03526.x
Kinoshita et al https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25274229