Last Updated: 11/2/2023

A work injury in Iowa could lead to complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), which is characterized by severe pain and swelling as well as sensitivity to touch. It is usually associated with arm or leg injuries, specifically ones that include nerve damage.

If you have been diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome after a work injury in Iowa, you should speak with an Iowa Worker's Compensation lawyer. Your lawyer can work with you in your efforts to maximize your Iowa Workers' Compensation claim.

What Are the Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic condition that rarely originates in any other body parts besides your arms and legs.

The symptoms of CRPS include

  • burning pain affecting your hand, arm, foot or leg;d
  • skin sensitivity;
  • changes in your skin's texture (sweaty, shiny), color (red, blue or white) and temperature (cold);
  • tender skin;
  • nail and hair growth changes;
  • stiff, swollen or otherwise damaged joints;
  • muscle spasms, weakness and loss of muscle mass; and
  • decreased ability to move the arms, legs or affected body part. 

Your CRPS symptoms will vary, depending on the severity of your condition. The initial symptoms you may experience include redness, swelling, hypersensitivity and temperature changes. As CRPS progresses, your affected limb might become pale and cold as your nails and skin undergo changes. At this stage, complex regional pain syndrome is usually irreversible.

What Causes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

There are 2 types of complex regional pain syndrome, and although the symptoms are similar for each, the causes are different: 

  • Type 1 - this type, which is the most prevalent form of CRPS, has also been called reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome. It occurs after an injury in which the nerves in your affected arm or leg were not directly damaged.
  • Type 2 - known in the past as causalgia, Type 2 CRPS involves a distinct nerve injury. 

Complex regional pain syndrome usually occurs after forceful trauma such as that of a shrapnel blast. Other trauma such as a sprained ankle or a broken bone can also lead to complex regional pain syndrome. Since CRPS is often associated with previous injuries, you'll want to discuss the circumstances surrounding your initial work injury with an Iowa Workers' Compensation lawyer.

What is the Treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Treatment for CRPS includes medication and the following therapies

  • Heat and cold - cold therapy could relieve sweating and swelling while heat therapy could provide relief if your skin is cold;
  • Physical therapy - gentle exercises can improve your strength and range of motion in the affected limb; and
  • Spinal cord stimulation - electrical currents sent to your spinal cord may alleviate pain. 

When CRPS is not treated, complications that could arise include muscle loss and contractures in which your hand or foot will contract into a fixed position.

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 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.

What Should I Do if I Have CRPS After a Work Injury?

Iowa Workers' Compensation GuideSometimes it is necessary to have a workmans' compensation attorney to assist you after you have been hurt at work.  To learn more about Iowa's workers' compensation system including the 7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work order a copy of our book “Iowa Workers’ Compensation- An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries” by going clicking on the book or by calling 641-792-3595Why offer a Book at No Cost?  Iowa Workers' Compensation Attorney Corey J. L. Walker offers his book at no cost because he has represented hundreds of Iowans hurt at work and seen too many clients make mistakes before they knew about their rights and responsibilities costing them thousands of dollars.  Iowans injured on the job are beginning to realize that the work comp. insurance company is not there to help them and they should at least consider having someone on their side to help them.  Finally, you can learn about Iowa work injuries in the comfort of your own home with no cost, risk or obligation.   For immediate assistance or to schedule your FREE workers' compensation case evaluation, call 641-792-3595 and ask for Corey or Erik. 

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.