Auto accidents can cause fractures and tissue injuries that increase a victim’s risk of developing complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). CRPS is a chronic nerve condition that can cause a lifetime of discomfort, health issues, and functional limitations. As a car accident lawyer I know that not all accident related injuries are apparent right after the incident, especially when a nerve is damaged.
Just because CRPS may not become evident until several months after the actual injury has occurred, it does not mean it was not caused by the accident.
What Causes CRPS After a Car Accident?
CRPS typically occurs when a heavy object hits or crushes a part of the body, affecting the nerves and causing high levels of nerve impulses to continue being sent to the affected body part. WebMD indicates that either the central nervous system or the peripheral nervous system can be affected in patients with CRPS. The immune response is triggered by the injury, but in people with CRPS the healing process becomes disrupted and the immune response continues to trigger, causing warmth, swelling, redness, and inflammatory symptoms.
CRPS symptoms vary from person to person. One symptom is intense continuos pain that worsens over time, rather than improving as pain usually does. The symptoms of CRPS are generally out-of-proportion in severity to the initial injury that caused it. For example, if a car crash caused only a minor injury to a finger or a toe, the CRPS victim might begin to experience pain along the whole arm or leg, maybe even along the whole opposite arm or leg. The pain that occurs from CRPS is very intense, described by WebMD as a “burning” pain.
Other symptoms include:
- joint swelling;
- stiffness in the joints;
- decreased motor ability and limited range of motion in the affected part of the body;
- changes in nail growth patterns;
- changes in hair growth patterns; and
- changes in the skin.
Skin temperature may be much warmer or much colder in the affected body part than in the opposite extremity. The color and texture of the skin may also change, with the skin becoming blotchy, red, purple, pale, thin, or shiny. Excessive sweating also occurs frequently in CRPS sufferers.
Even when these symptoms are apparent, diagnosis of CRPS is often difficult because there is no diagnostic test to identify the condition. According to WebMD, the diagnosis is usually made by a medical care provider who:
- is aware of the initial injury,
- identifies a higher-than-normal amount of pain in the patient,
- notices the appearance of the affected area has changed, and
- is not able to identify another medical cause of the pain or altered appearance.
Bone scans can sometimes be helpful in identifying changes in the blood or bone as a part of the diagnostic process for CRPS.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for CRPS. Treatment involves pain management which can include:
- Sympathetic nerve blocks – putting an anesthetic next to the spine to block signals to the affected nerves;
- Sympathectomy – surgically destroying the affected nerves;
- Spinal cord stimulation using electrodes next to the spine;
- Use of an intrathecal drug pump to deliver pain relief directly into the spinal fluid.
Doctors are not certain why some people develop CRPS after trauma while others don’t. If you do develop CRPS, you need to ensure you are able to prove the condition was caused by the car accident. Receiving an accurate diagnosis and detailed medical reports linking the chronic pain condition to the car crash is important to getting compensated for treatment costs and the pain CRPS causes you to endure.
How Can Long Beach Car Accident Lawyer Help?
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
If you develop complex regional pain syndrome, you need to fight for your right to compensation for this painful injury. A Long Beach car accident lawyer can help. I take your injuries personally and I will work to get you maximum compensation for your injuries. I will advocate for you until your case is resolved.
Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation and learn how I can help you if you’ve suffered a car accident injury. You will be under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover compensation for your losses.
You can also download my convenient glove box checklist to keep in your car so you will know what to do if a crash occurs.
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