How Steroids Can Help Manage Your CRPS

Nov 17, 2023
 How Steroids Can Help Manage Your CRPS
The chronic pain and other symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) can be difficult to manage, especially as the condition progresses. Learn how early use of steroids controls pain and prevents CRPS from worsening.

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a fairly uncommon condition, but it can have life-altering side effects for those the disease affects.

At Zephyr Medical, we offer comprehensive treatment plans to manage the pain and other symptoms of CRPS. 

Our board-certified pain management physician, Asher C. Goldstein, MD, specializes in minimally invasive treatments, including oral and injectable steroids, to help you live a higher quality, more comfortable life.

Why you have CRPS

CRPS is a pain disorder that may be triggered by irregularities in the sympathetic nervous system, although the condition's root cause still isn’t well understood.

Your sympathetic nervous system regulates unconscious biological functions like body temperature and blood circulation. Damage to these nerves can lead to abnormal nerve activity and changes in blood flow.

There are two types of CRPS:

Type 1 CRPS

Type 1 CRPS develops after a leg or arm injury or a stroke. The condition can result even when there are no obvious nerve injuries.

Type 2 CRPS

Type 2 CRPS is less common than type 1 and occurs after an injury to a nerve from an injury or underlying illness.

Warning signs of CRPS

A hallmark symptom of CRPS is burning pain in one leg or arm. For some, pain can be intense enough to interfere with mobility and lead to disability.

Other warning signs of CRPS include:

  • Swollen, stiff joints
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Skin discoloration
  • Increased sensitivity to temperature changes

Hair and nails on the affected limb may also change in texture and appearance. Additionally, you may notice that the temperature of your arm or leg is different from other parts of your body.

Often, symptoms get worse over time and can spread to other areas. Without treatment, CRPS can ultimately cause irreversible nerve damage and negatively impact your ability to live an independent life.

Dr.  Goldstein offers a range of therapies, including steroids, to relieve the worst pain so you can stay physically active.

The effect of steroids on CRPS symptoms

Steroids are a powerful anti-inflammatory that can reduce CRPS-related pain. Steroids can also suppress immune system reactions to lessen the severity of CRPS flare-ups.

Using steroids is typically most effective in the early stages of CRPS. Dr. Goldstein may also recommend steroids during acute CPRS episodes to control existing pain and prevent flare-ups from worsening.

Generally, long-term steroid use isn’t a treatment option for chronic CRPS. When steroids are no longer effective, Dr. Goldstein may recommend other medications or nonsurgical therapies like stellate ganglion nerve block or sympathetic nerve block.

Neuromodulation, including dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation, also provides lasting pain relief. This state-of-the-art treatment involves the implantation of a device under the surface of your skin. The device delivers electrical signals to target nerves that prevent pain signals from traveling to the brain so you can treat pain as it happens.

Call Zephyr Medical in Brooklyn, New York, to schedule a CRPS consultation or book an appointment online today.