Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) may not be all that common — it affects less than 1 in 100,000 of the population — but the pain that comes with the condition is anything but common. In fact, it’s quite intense.
If you’re one of the few people struggling with CRPS, finding ways to relieve the pain is your top priority. Our team here at Pain Medicine Consultants shares this priority, and we offer a number of different treatment options that help with CRPS pain, including ketamine infusion therapy.
The complexity of CRPS
One of the reasons CRPS has been historically difficult to treat is that there’s still much that we don’t understand about it. At its core, CRPS describes a condition in which you experience prolonged and disproportionate pain following an injury, usually in your arms or legs.
The cause of this pain is due to a malfunction in your peripheral C nerve fibers, which are responsible for carrying pain messaging to your brain.
In most cases, the malfunction stems from direct trauma to these peripheral nerves, such as with a fracture. Where CRPS can be complex is that it can develop even where there’s no injury.
No matter how the problem develops, people with CRPS are left with considerable pain thanks to overactive nerve fibers, which can also lead to chronic inflammation.
CRPS can be acute and last for several months or it can be chronic, which means the discomfort persists for six months or more.
Most people with CRPS do eventually find relief as the nerves quiet and heal and the symptoms gradually subside. In the meantime, though — and for those who develop chronic CRPS — treating the condition often comes down to pain management.
From painkillers and corticosteroid injections to spinal cord stimulation and physical therapy, there are many treatment options that can help relieve the discomfort of CRPS, and we offer all of them here at our practice.
We’ve also had success using ketamine infusion therapy to help quickly relieve the symptoms of CRPS in people who don’t respond to traditional treatments.
Ketamine works by targeting receptors in your nervous system called NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) to help block pain signaling.
The drug works very quickly, which is one advantage of this therapy, but studies also show that it's especially useful in people who don’t respond to other treatments. For example, one report stated that infusions of ketamine may provide significant pain relief for patients who have CRPS that is resistant to conservative methods of pain management.
We administer the ketamine through IV infusions, which means that the drug goes directly into your bloodstream and bypasses your digestive tract. The infusions can take several hours, and we generally recommend a series of ketamine treatments for the best results.
If you’d like to explore whether ketamine infusion therapy is right for relieving your CRPS symptoms, please contact one of our offices in Pleasanton, Pleasant Hill, or Corte Madera, California, to schedule an appointment.