CRPS: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome after a Des Moines Car Wreck

Car wrecks can be painful experiences, especially if you suffer serious trauma. In most cases of moderate car accidents, injuries heal over time and leave little to no long-term effects. However, for many people the pain of the initial injury never goes away and increases over time. Chronic pain after a Des Moines accident may be a condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS.

What is CRPS and how do I know I have CRPS?

CRPS is a type of chronic pain that develops in a previously injured limb and persists after the initial injury has healed. For people who develop CRPS after a car wreck, it usually begins with one of the following.

  • Broken bone
  • Fracture 
  • Strain/sprain 
  • Lesion 

In 90 percent of CRPS cases, a trauma is the cause of the pain, although some people develop CRPS for no known reason.

There are two forms of CRPS, one with confirmed nerve damage and one with seemingly no detectable nerve damage. Both forms share the same set of symptoms.

• Prolonged, extreme pain in a previously injured area
• Changes in skin texture on or around the injury
• Changes in hair and nail growth (hand, foot, leg)
• Stiffness in the corresponding joints
• Difficulty controlling muscle movements and decreased mobility
• Abnormal jerking or twitching of the injured limb


The most common and notable symptom is the pain, which is typically described as being more painful than the initial injury. Many CRPS patients indicated the pain feels like burning or "pins and needles" at times but can flare up to sensitivity levels where even a light brush of the skin is excruciating.

Doctors do not have any single diagnostic test to determine if you have CRPS. Instead, they must rely on ruling out conditions with similar symptoms such as arthritis, muscle diseases, clotted veins, and diabetic nerve pain. In some cases, MRI scans can identify CRPS-related bone changes.

Treatment and Long-term Prognosis for CRPS

Rehabilitation sometimes goes hand-in-hand with medication therapy using any of several drugs used for pain management, muscle inflammation, and other conditions. Depression after car accident is a real problem and may also require medication. Blocking or removing the sympathetic nerves has shown mixed results, and success varies from patient to patient.

Currently, there is no single protocol for treatment of CRPS, and constant management is necessary for most patients to live a normal lifestyle. CRPS can gradually improve on its own over time, and children and young adults typically have a good recovery. Older adults, those over the age of 40, are often slower to heal and may suffer the condition for much longer, in some cases permanently.

Don't Suffer from CRPS for Too Long Before Filing a Car Wreck Claim

The Walker, Billingsley and Bair personal injury law firm is here to help injured Iowans seek justice for their injuries. Contact our office today to schedule a FREE consultation regarding your case and legal options. For immediate assistance, call (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form and get the information you need.

Corey Walker
With 19 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.