Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) was first diagnosed in 1864 in relation to casualties of the American Civil War. It is a poorly understood condition where a person experiences persistent, severe and debilitating pain. As the name suggests, it is complex! It usually occurs following trauma, with recent research showing that 70% of CRPS cases arose following an injury, and 25% arose following surgery or a medical procedure.
CRPS often results in severe burning nerve pain. Sufferers will often develop many unusual symptoms including changes to one limb in terms of temperate, swelling, extreme sensitivity, excessive hair growth and nail changes. Often suffers will experience pain in their limb when people walk near it but do not touch the limb.
What we learned at the recent CRPS UK Conference
We have developed strong links with the Mineral Hospital in Bath, which is a national treatment centre for CRPS. RWK Goodman also sponsor CRPS UK and we are nationally recognised for our CRPS expertise.
In recognition of our expertise, I was recently invited to speak about the legal process at the CRPS UK annual conference in Sterling on the 18th June 2022. CRPS sufferers were updated by leaders in their field including Professors of Medicine and Physiotherapists.
During the conference, we heard inspiring stories from patients, such as one patient who was taking medically prescribed cannabis, which enabled her to stop taking her high doses of other medication and stop using her wheelchair. Another patient demonstrated how her assistance dog was able to pick things up, lower the footplates on her wheelchair, open doors and even load her washing machine.
Recent medical research was also shared which revealed that women were more likely to be affected by CRPS than men and that the mean age of onset of CRPS was between the age of 40 – 50. CRPS is more likely to develop in an arm than a leg. Patients who have a pre-existing history of depression and anxiety and have a history of smoking are more likely to develop CRPS.
CRPS patients suffer from disability, depression, anxiety, stress, fear and body perception disturbance. Research revealed that only 20% of CRPS sufferers manage to stay in the job that which they did pre-accident. Sadly, some patients are in so much pain that they want their limb to be amputated. However, in a recent study of 15 CRPS patients who underwent amputation; it transpired that this was only beneficial for 2 patients, because after the affected limb was amputated, CRPS spread to other areas of the body in the remaining 13 patients.
CRPS claims are usually high value as we often need to include claims for loss of earnings, loss of pension, paid care, gratuitous care, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, counselling, occupational therapy, adaptations to houses and adaptations to cars. Treatment also usually consists of early mobilisation, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and mirror therapy.
Making a difference
Our clients really value the way in which we build a team around each client both in terms of rehabilitation and the team of medical experts and barristers instructed.
Because of our caring and personalised approach, we often take over second hand CRPS cases. For example, I took over the conduct of one case where the previous Solicitors valued the client's case at £25,000.00. The client transferred instructions and we obtained the right medical evidence which enabled us to settle her case for in excess of £1.6m.
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