Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Personal Injury Lawyers Representing People in the Syracuse Area

Sometimes an injury brings with it more pain than expected. If you suffer significant pain, beyond what is expected for an injury, and certain other symptoms are present, you may have complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). Unfortunately, this is a syndrome that is often misunderstood and not diagnosed. You may be able to recover damages for complex regional pain syndrome through a personal injury lawsuit, and you may also have a medical malpractice claim if your doctor caused it or failed to diagnose it. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our Syracuse personal injury attorneys understand how stressful and painful this syndrome is and may be able to help you file suit.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Complex regional pain syndrome, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy, arises from multiple causes. Symptoms include intense and continuous pain that spreads from an injury site to other areas in the body, as well as swollen and stiff joints, burning pain, motor disability, skin changes, and alterations of hair and nail growth. Sometimes skin gets excessively sweaty, or it gets thin and shiny. These symptoms may be worsened by emotional stress.

Generally, complex regional pain syndrome has two types. The first is chronic pain that is not arising from a nerve injury. This may be caused by car accidents, slip and falls, or surgeries. The second type occurs when there is direct damage to the nerve that arises in the context of an injection or surgical error. There are different theories about why complex regional pain syndrome arises. One theory is that pain receptors near an injury site become responsive to catecholamines. Another theory is that complex regional pain syndrome arises as a result of an immune response to injuries.

No particular diagnostic test exists for complex regional pain syndrome, and making the diagnosis early in the process when symptoms are milder can be difficult. In general, there must be an initial injury and an amount of pain that is disproportionate or greater than what one would expect from the initial injury, as well as an alteration in the appearance of the affected injury site. Usually, doctors need to conduct tests to rule out other possible diagnoses.

There is no cure for complex regional pain syndrome, which is a neurological syndrome. Usually, it is treated with physical therapy, narcotics, topical analgesics, corticosteroids, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, sympathetic nerve blocks, surgical sympathectomy, spinal cord stimulation, and intrathecal drug pumps. The chronic pain that you may experience can be debilitating and cause you to miss work and develop significant financial problems.

If you suspect that the syndrome arose as a result of an accident that was somebody else's fault, you may be able to hold the person responsible for the accident liable for your damages. For example, if you develop complex regional pain syndrome in connection with injuries arising from a car accident or a slip and fall, you may be able to sue the party responsible for the accident. You will need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence certain key elements: (1) the defendant's duty to you, (2) a breach of duty, (3) causation, and (4) actual damages.

Depending on the circumstances, you may also have a basis to sue a doctor who is responsible for your complex regional pain syndrome. Sometimes this syndrome develops as a result of surgical malpractice in which a nerve is damaged. You will need to show the same elements as above, but in the context of a medical setting. Your attorney will need to retain a credible and persuasive expert to opine on what the professional standard of care was, how the defendant breached the professional standard of care, and causation.

Hire a Medical Malpractice or Personal Injury Attorney in the Syracuse Area

If you suffered complex regional pain syndrome or reflex sympathetic dystrophy as a result of negligence, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents victims of negligence in areas such as Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Auburn, Elmira, Norwich, Cortland, Delhi, Herkimer, Watertown, Lowville, Oneida, Wampsville, Utica, Canandaigua, Oswego, Cooperstown, Ithaca, and Lyons. Call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form.

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