Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Stem Cells

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Stem Cells

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare condition that affects less than 200,000 people in the United States per year.  It is a chronic pain condition that typically affects one extremity after an injury.  The exact cause of CRPS is unknown.  Although it is believed to be caused by damage to the nerves in the extremity, CRPS can vary in the length of time a person is affected and the severity in which he or she is affected.  However, in cases with severe pain, a person’s quality of life can be significantly affected.

 

CRPS typically starts as a burning or tingling pain that may spread throughout the affected limb.  Symptoms typically include changes in skin temperature, skin color, or even swelling of the affected area.  There are no tests that diagnose CRPS, and there is no known cure.  Because it is unknown why certain people are affected by CRPS and others are not, the prognosis of people affected by the condition varies greatly.

Stem cell therapy has shown great promise as a treatment for CRPS

Currently, there are three main treatments for people suffering from CRPS.  These treatments include physical therapy, psychotherapy, and medication.  Physical therapy helps to keep the body part moving, which stimulates blood flow to the region.  Blood flow can help the body heal in some cases.  Psychotherapy is important because chronic pain can lead to anxiety and depression.  It is important to keep the patient in a positive frame of mind when dealing with CRPS.  There is a wide range of medications available that have shown some improvement when treatment occurs early.  Some of these medications include NSAIDs, steroids, or topical local anesthetics.  While these treatments, in combination, may provide some relief, they are not cures for CRPS.

 

Stem cell therapy has shown great promise as a treatment for CRPS.  In one study, adult stem cells were harvested directly from the patient.  Then, they were re-injected to the affected limb for therapy.  Within a matter of weeks, the patient was able to walk and bear weight on her leg, when previously doing so caused an immense amount of pain.

Stem cells have shown great promise in treating generalized chronic pain as well.  Adipose stem cells can differentiate and effectively integrate with the damaged tissue to repair it.  This helps significantly reduce pain for CRPS patients.

 

CRPS is a horrible condition that can be unbearable for the affected person.  Living with chronic unexplained pain can lead to depression, anxiety, and overall poor quality of life.  This is especially true when a person realizes their diagnosis may be lifelong.  Research is being done to better understand CRPS and what causes it.  Without understanding the exact cause, it is difficult to find a cure.

 

Fortunately, stem cell therapy provides hope for patients suffering from CRPS.  While there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to understand how stem cells can best be used to treat CRPS, it is already helping patients to reduce the amount of pain they feel.  Stem cells provide endless possibilities when it comes to developing new treatments for those suffering from chronic pain.

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