Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a condition that causes excessive and prolonged pain and inflammation following an injury to the arms or legs. Severe cases of CRPS can significantly affect the sufferer’s ability to work and may lead them to seek Social Security disability benefits. However, applying for benefits can often be a daunting task, which is why you may want to consider speaking to a Baltimore disability lawyer if CRPS is keeping you out of work.
What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
All injuries cause a certain amount of pain, but the pain from CRPS is different in that it causes pain out of proportion to the severity of the injury. In other words, it causes the injury to hurt more than it should. There are two forms of CRPS, although they have the same symptoms:
- Type 1: Also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSDS), it occurs after an injury that does not directly damage the nerves in the affected limb.
- Type 2: Formerly known as causalgia, it occurs when there is a distinct injury to the nerve in the affected limb
Most cases of CRPS are fairly mild and tend to subside over the course of several months. However, more severe cases can result in significant disability and may constitute a qualifying illness for Social Security disability. In many cases, the long-term severity of CRPS depends significantly on the sufferer’s underlying health. There is currently no known cure for CRPS.
How Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Affects the Body
There are many symptoms of CRPS, including:
- Unprovoked or spontaneous pain that feels like burning or pins and needles
- Excess or prolonged pain after use of the limb or contact with it
- Changes in skin temperature, color, or texture
- Swelling of the affected limb
- Abnormal sweating
- Abnormal growth of the hair and nails
- Stiffness in affected joints
- Wasting or excess bone growth
It is rare for any individual to experience all of the possible symptoms of CRPS, and the symptoms experienced, and their severity may vary during recovery.
Causes of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
CRPS results from the excess firing of the peripheral C-fiber nerve fibers that carry pain messages to the brain. This can occur when there is nerve trauma or injury to the affected limb. Some common conditions that can lead to CRPS include sprains, burns and cuts, fractures, surgery, limb immobilization, and penetrations.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Is a Qualifying Illness for Social Security Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates CRPS together with RSDS. The existence of a medically determinable impairment requires a showing of a precipitating injury, persistent complaints of pain that is out of proportion to the injury, and one or more of the following symptoms:
- Autonomic instability (i.e., changes in skin color or texture, changes in sweating, changes in skin temperature, gooseflesh)
- Abnormal hair or nail growth
- Involuntary movements
The SSA will then evaluate the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of the applicant’s symptoms to determine whether the symptoms limit their ability to do basic work activities, in addition to all other determinations the SSA makes during the Social Security disability application process.
Contact a Baltimore Disability Lawyer for More Information
If you are suffering from CRPS that affects your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. For more information about your eligibility, please contact Baltimore disability lawyer Emmett B. Irwin by calling 443-839-0818 or using our online contact form.