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Stephanie Jones, M.D. Answers Questions On Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Stephanie Jones, M.D. Answers Questions On: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

How do you approach treatment for complex regional pain syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, sometimes called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), is a challenging condition. However, our understanding of CRPS has progressed significantly in recent years.

CRPS can be difficult to diagnose because it can be mistaken for an inflammatory or infectious process, so other conditions have to be ruled out first. Then, with appropriate treatment that includes prompt, aggressive rehabilitation and medical management, we can often really turn the lives of people with CRPS around. Interventions that have proven effective for some CRPS patients include lumbar sympathetic blocks and spinal cord stimulation.

What is the typical duration of a course of treatment for chronic pain?

It depends on the condition. The earlier we see patients with back pain and neck pain, the more quickly we can get them back to a normal quality of life, and the patient’s need for continued care may be short.

However, some of our patients have had pain due to a nerve injury or medical condition such as inflammatory arthritis or multiple sclerosis for years. In these cases, it’s a matter of staying involved, staying dedicated, and maintaining functionality as fully as possible through long-term, proactive care. People with these chronic or permanent conditions may never be 100 percent pain free, but that’s what pain management is about: trying to balance therapies and treatments and minimize adverse effects to improve overall quality of life.

What diagnostic technologies and interventional procedures do you use in your practice?

Imaging technologies can help guide therapy, but they do not provide definitive diagnoses. Sometimes there is not a direct correlation between, say, an MRI and the symptoms described by a patient. That’s why we always treat the whole patient first and foremost.

We use techniques such as spinal cord stimulation, epidural injections, and pulse radiofrequency ablation to treat an array of pain syndromes. The UT Southwestern pain program conducts ongoing outcomes studies to evaluate and optimize the efficacy of these and other treatments.