California CRPS Lawyers

WHAT IS CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a painful, chronic nerve condition that can often be difficult to diagnose and almost always affects the limbs. Experts believe that CRPS complicates roughly 1 out of every 1,200 traumatic injuries.

CRPS is believed to be a result of damage to the peripheral and central nervous systems. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system involves nerve signaling from the brain and spine to the rest of the body. In short, CRPS typically affects the way in which pain signals are carried throughout the body.

In more basic terms, CRPS makes your brain think that part of your body is injured when it isn’t or make injuries feel more painful than they really are for longer than they exist.

CRPS is commonly referred to as a “mystery” illness because it often goes unnoticed until it flares up after a traumatic injury. Under normal circumstances, when you suffer an injury, such as a broken leg, your pain will typically last as long as your injury does. Once your leg heals, the pain will usually go away.

However, if you have CRPS, the pain will not go away after the fracture has healed. Instead, you will continue to suffer extreme pain and tenderness in the affected limb that will generally continue to get worse with time. Left untreated, CRPS can be debilitating and seriously impact the quality of your life.

If someone else’s negligence caused you to be injured, and that injury led to the development of CRPS, you are entitled to compensation. Because the link between your injury and CRPS can be difficult to find, you will want to enlist the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what to look for. That’s where we come in!

Have questions? Call our award winning California CRPS attorneys with over a 99% success rate at 1(866) 622-6491 anytime, we’re here to help.

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HOW DOES CRPS WORK?

CRPS is a complicated ailment and a never-ending cycle of pain. Once triggered, CRPS is easily broken down into five recognizable, distinct stages.

01

Initial

Injury

The cycle begins with an injury to a limb or even another part of the body. The injury can range from a minor needle poke to a serious fracture.

02

Pain Impulse

In Brain

The initial injury triggers a pain response in the brain. This impulse is carried by sensory nerves to the central nervous system.

03

Pain Impulse

In Spinal Cord

The pain impulse in the brain triggers a pain impulse in the sympathetic nervous system. The pain response travels to the initial injury site.

04

Inflammatory

Response

The cycle begins with an injury to a limb or even another part of the body. The injury can range from a minor needle poke to a serious fracture.

05

The

Pain

You feel pain at the site of the injury. This pain is ongoing and currently cannot be cured completely. Over time, your pain will likely get worse without treatment. Some patients have even experienced pain in the opposite limb from the one that was injured.


CRPS is a condition that will generally get worse over time. The second, third, fourth, and fifth stages repeat over and over again, even after the original injury has healed completely. This means that you will always experience some degree of pain from an injury that no longer exists until and unless you seek help from a pain management specialist.

CAUSES OF CRPS


CRPS is a complicated condition that has left physicians and medical professionals with more questions than answers. CRPS is often associated with traumatic injuries but it’s not clear why some people develop CRPS while others who have suffered similar injuries do not. Additionally, it’s unclear why a minor injury (such as a cut) may trigger CRPS while a more serious injury (like a broken arm) doesn’t. Unfortunately, physicians are still baffled.

What medical professionals do know is that in over 90% of cases, CRPS is triggered by a history of traumatic injury, typically to one region of the body. The most common triggers include fractures, sprains, and limb immobilization (such as being in a cast or brace). CRPS can also be triggered by minor soft-tissue injuries, such as cuts, burns, or scrapes. Given the wide variety of ways in which CRPS can be triggered, it can be difficult to ascertain how it started in the first place. While some CRPS cases arise from repeated injuries to the same limb, others develop after one isolated injury. It’s up to your doctor and your personal injury attorney to determine how your CRPS developed.

More often than not, CRPS flares up after serious personal injury accidents, including:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Slip and falls
  • Workplace accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Dog bites

The original injury does not have to be serious but will generally need to be bad enough to trigger some sort of an initial pain response. If someone else caused your injury and you subsequently developed CRPS, you have a right to be compensated. You shouldn’t be left to suffer alone and in debt.

SIGNS OF CRPS

CRPS typically affects the limbs and can be associated with a long list of side effects and symptoms. Doctors often look at the combination of symptoms when pursuing a diagnosis because there is no single test to confirm CRPS. Other conditions with similar symptoms must be ruled out before CRPS can be confirmed. Unfortunately, this can be a very long, exhausting process that will likely drain your bank account.

Fortunately, physicians have been able to identify a list of symptoms typically indicative of CRPS. Common symptoms of CRPS include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness and discoloration of the skin
  • Burning pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Changes in skin temperature
  • Extreme pain
  • Stiffness
  • Abnormal movement in the affected limb
  • Temperature difference between limbs

The key symptom of CRPS is constant severe pain that lasts far longer than what you would expect pain from an injury to last. This can range from a “pins and needles” sensation to extreme burning or shooting pain. A broken bone may take 6 to 8 weeks in a cast to heal. However, if your broken leg is still causing you serious pain 6 months later, there’s a good chance that your injury may have triggered CRPS and a physician should begin running tests in order to make a diagnosis.

In some cases, a patient may experience pain in the opposite limb from the limb that was injured. This means that if you suffered an injury to your right leg, you could potentially feel pain in your left leg.

POTENTIAL RISKS OF LEAVING CRPS UNTREATED


CRPS is not a condition that can reasonably be left untreated. Without pain management therapy, you could suffer from serious, even debilitating complications. Some of these complications include:

  • Loss of dexterity
  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle atrophy (breakdown of the muscle)
  • Permanent disability

In short, CRPS tends to get worse over time. It is not a condition that will ever be completely healed — even with extensive pain management therapy. If CRPS is permitted to flourish without treatment, the consequences could be life-changing.

Chronic pain can be difficult enough to deal with. It is an endless cycle of hurting and wondering if and how you will ever feel better. Losing your dexterity or experiencing your muscles break down is unimaginable. Untreated CRPS will dramatically decrease your quality of life. If you suspect that you might be suffering from CRPS, get checked out by a doctor immediately and then contact The May Firm.

COMMON TREATMENTS OF CRPS


Unfortunately, there is no known cure for CRPS. The only options currently available to those suffering from CRPS involve pain management. Physicians and pain management specialists can only treat the symptoms of CRPS and attempt to make the patient more comfortable.

Treatment for CRPS will often vary from one patient to another and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The most common treatment plans for CRPS include:

  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Medications
  • Psychotherapy
  • Sympathetic nerve block
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Ketamine treatments

A treating physician may recommend any combination of treatments in order to best address the needs of the patient.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation

A common treatment for the symptoms of CRPS is physical therapy. Exercise can be helpful in maintaining the dexterity and general function of the injured limb and can help to eliminate some of the pain associated with CRPS. In more serious cases, occupational therapy can come in handy to help a patient to learn new ways to perform tasks.

Physical therapy has the potential to be painful so a doctor may prescribe pain medication to make the exercises more tolerable.

Psychotherapy

Suffering from a chronic painful condition can have a detrimental effect on your mental health. Depression and anxiety of various degrees of severity are among the most common psychological side effects of CRPS and can complicate the rehabilitation process. In addition to or in lieu of prescribing medication, your physician may recommend psychotherapy as a means to cope with and eventually overcome any mental illness that may develop from your constant suffering from chronic pain.

Spinal cord stimulation

In some cases, a spinal cord stimulator may be implanted through a needle into the spine. The stimulator can be turned on and off as necessary. Unfortunately, roughly ¼ of patients develop some sort of complication associated with the equipment that requires additional surgeries. This method has been relatively helpful in treating chronic pain but is very invasive.

Spinal cord stimulation can lead to complications and may be one of the last courses of treatment recommended by your doctor.

Alternative therapies

Some CRPS sufferers have experienced relief from their symptoms through the use of alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. These methods are far less invasive than other methods and typically pose fewer health risks. Their effectiveness may vary from patient to patient.

Medications

There is no single medication developed specifically to treat CRPS. However, physicians and pain management specialists may recommend one or more medications to treat various symptoms of CRPS and make them more manageable. Some of these medications include, but are not limited to:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to treat moderate pain (ibuprofen, Advil, etc.)
  • Opioids to treat severe pain (morphine, oxycodone, etc.)
  • Topical anesthetic creams (lidocaine)
  • Corticosteroids to treat inflammation (prednisolone)

In many cases, antidepressants and other related medications may be prescribed by a physician to treat the neurological effects of dealing with chronic pain.

Sympathetic nerve block

One of the most common methods of treating CRPS is a sympathetic nerve block. This method involves injecting an anesthetic next to the spine to block pain signals and improve blood flow. While patients may experience short-term relief from chronic pain, this relief typically doesn’t last longer than three to six months at a time. Therefore, patients that choose to go this route have to return to their pain management specialist to receive treatment several times each year.

This procedure is costly due to its need to be repeated every few months but it has been found to be one of the more effective ways of easing a patient’s CRPS pain, at least for a short while.

Ketamine treatments

Ketamine is a strong anesthetic and experts have begun to experiment with using low doses of ketamine to treat CRPS. Ketamine is administered intravenously (through an IV) over the period of several days to minimize or even eliminate the pain symptoms associated with CRPS. This method is still relatively experimental but appears to be useful in treating chronic pain that has not responded to other methods.

As with other pain relief methods, ketamine treatments are only effective temporarily and must be repeated periodically.

CRPS IS COSTLY


There is no question that CRPS is expensive. Because there is no single diagnostic test, physicians must take a process-of-elimination approach to diagnose CRPS in the first place. Doctors need to eliminate all other potential causes of your symptoms before they can affirmatively conclude that you suffer from CRPS. Paying for test after test can place an incredible financial burden on the shoulders of someone suffering from CRPS.

Receiving an official diagnosis of CRPS will not put an end to the avalanche of medical debt. CRPS is a life-long ailment — there is no cure. Therefore, once diagnosed, you will spend the rest of your life treating the symptoms. This will lead to ongoing medical bills. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to a personal injury attorney with expertise in handling CRPS cases if you were hurt by someone else and that injury resulted in the development of CRPS.

ATTORNEYS WHO DON’T KNOW OFTEN MISS THIS DIAGNOSIS


The symptoms of CRPS can be consistent with a number of other conditions and diseases. Therefore, it is easy for a physician without expertise in CRPS to misdiagnose a patient and provide treatments that don’t work for months or even years before the correct diagnosis is made. The elusiveness of CRPS means a lot of unnecessary extra pain for sufferers.

 

If physicians can miss a CRPS diagnosis, an attorney without the requisite expertise can also miss this condition! The May Firm recognizes that symptoms of CRPS can be the same as those of some other injury or condition so we are careful to keep CRPS in the back of our minds when assessing a client’s case. If, for example, a client comes into our office with their left hand tinted blue, we would advise them to consult a doctor about CRPS rather than assuming that it may be a circulation problem and pursing that route exclusively. It is important to us that our clients receive the appropriate medical treatment to ease their suffering and the only way for that to happen is if we do our own due diligence when assessing what we think the injury that we would be filing a claim over actually is.

No diagnosis means no lawsuit to compensate you for your pain. You must have a doctor diagnose you with CRPS before you are able to file a civil suit against the person who caused the injury that triggered your CRPS. Because The May Firm knows CRPS, we can recognize the symptoms and suggest that you ask your doctor about the condition to put you on the path toward diagnosis. Few other firms can say the same!

THE MAY FIRM HAS HANDLED CRPS CASES


People don’t always think to contact an attorney when they’ve been hurt by someone else. They also don’t typically think to reach out to a lawyer if the consequences and symptoms of their injury are persistent and refuse to go away. Many suffer in silence when they shouldn’t have to.

Just like it’s important to see a doctor for treatment, both for the initial injury and for any resulting complications, it’s also important to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to assess your legal options for compensation. A lawyer can be your ally in the process of holding the at-fault party responsible for causing your injuries. If someone else caused your injury and that injury resulted in the development of CRPS, you are entitled to compensation for your pain and associated medical expenses.

The May Firm has experience handling CRPS cases. To date, we have won every CRPS case that has come into our office and have been able to recover adequate compensation for our clients. We know how to find the link between your initial injury and the development of your CRPS and can articulate that in court. We are happy to help!

THE MAY FIRM HAS RELATIONSHIPS WITH PHYSICIANS WITH CRPS EXPERISE


The May Firm has established positive relationships with a number of physicians specializing in CRPS across California. In short, we can get you help. We can tie you into a network of doctors and pain management specialists who have experience with diagnosing and treating the symptoms of CRPS. As you begin to travel down the road to recovery, you will likely need the assistance of different types of doctors — not just your primary care physician. The May Firm can introduce you to some of the best pain management specialists in California!

We can help to build you a medical network while we fight your legal battle.

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THE MAY FIRM WILL BE THERE FOR YOU


If you are suffering from CRPS, you need a personal injury attorney who knows that you are going through and who takes a sincere interest in your case. At The May Firm, we take your hardships personally. As our client, you become part of our family. We understand that a legal battle can be daunting for someone in good physical and emotional condition, let alone a CRPS sufferer who is always in pain. We will take on the person responsible for your injuries in court while you recover and treat your symptoms. The May Firm will work tirelessly to prove a direct link between your injury and the development of your CRPS.

The outcome of your case will impact the rest of your life so it is important that it is handled properly. We have years of experience handling CRPS cases and winning large settlements for our clients. We know what we are doing. Let us fight for you.

The May Firm has offices in San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, San Diego, Fresno, Chula Vista, Ventura, and Long Beach. Give us a call at (866) 678-4711 to schedule your free consultation!

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