Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, is a chronic pain condition that affects the nervous system. Basically, what happens is there’s an injury- you stub your toe, you break your hand, whatever. Your nerves tell your brain that your injury hurts because, well, it does and that’s a good thing for survival. But as the injury heals, the nerves are supposed to calm down and it’s not supposed to hurt as bad. With CRPS, those nerves have gone super-green-ripped-shirt-but-somehow-always-wearing-the-purple-pants crazy. They can’t calm down and are screaming at the brain at the injury is just as painful and fresh as when it happened (or even worse!). Once that switch flips, there is no turning back. You can’t shut those nerves down. Because CRPS is a nervous condition, and nerves are like electric cables running all throughout your body, well, it spreads. It is possible for CRPS to spread to other areas of the body, and in rare cases, affect organs and internal processes. On a pain scale invented by some guy named McGill, natural childbirth is rated below 40 (out of 50). The amputation of a finger or a toe is just above 40 (again, out of 50). CRPS is at the top of the scale. It isn’t at 50 but there is a sizeable gap between amputation and CRPS. It is a painful condition that affects people in different ways. It’s invisible but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Education and awareness help, dude. Seriously, like go read a book.
P.S- November is CRPS Awareness Month. Wear orange in support! 🙂