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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - a Painful and Debilitating Condition

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a painful and debilitating condition of unknown cause.  There is no cure.  It is a chronic pain condition that sometimes arises following an injury and it can affect one or more limbs.  It is usually thought to be caused as a result of damage to, or the malfunction of, the central nervous system - consisting of the brain and spinal cord - and the nerves that signal to the rest of the body.  It is an abnormal pain response, the intensity of which is often completely out of proportion to the original trauma sustained. 

Since Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is not fully understood, medical experts often disagree about the diagnosis, cause, treatment, and prognosis.  This in turn can create difficulties for claimants and their lawyers in terms of obtaining a diagnosis of the claimant’s condition, and establishing a causal link between the accident and the condition.  Defendants often try to blame the underlying cause on any psychiatric history revealed within the claimant’s medical records, since this is unrelated to the accident and the defendant’s negligence, or they might allege that the claimant is exaggerating their problems, or malingering.  A treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy may be suggested by the defendant, on the alleged basis that the claimant will make a full recovery after a short course of such treatment.  Such suggestions should be treated with caution.  Alternatively, it might be suggested that the claimant was pre-disposed to developing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and therefore would have developed the condition anyway.

It is crucial that an appropriate medical practitioner, with expertise in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, should be engaged to examine the claimant and review their medical records so that the condition can be correctly diagnosed and appropriate treatment recommended.  It will also enable the claimant’s lawyer to properly quantify the claim and settle it at an appropriate stage.