Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Alternative Therapies

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Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic condition characterized by pain in a specific area of the body, usually in the arms or legs. It is caused by an injury to the nerve or an injury near a nerve. The pain is usually treated with medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, aleve, amitriptyline, gabapentin and prednisone. There are several complex regional pain syndrome alternative therapies that can provide relief as well.

Applying Topical Creams and Heat Packs

One way to relieve the pain associated with complex regional pain syndrome involves applying topical creams to the areas that are affected. It is recommended to use creams that contain lidocaine, clonidine, ketamine, or amitriptyline. Another way to treat the pain is by applying hot and cold packs to areas where the pain originates. Cold packs are recommended when the area is swollen or sweaty, and heat packs are recommended with the area feels cold.

Physical Therapy

Staying active is an important part of any health plan. It is no different for individuals with complex regional pain syndrome. Physical therapy is among the complex regional pain syndrome alternative therapies that help to improve the quality of life. By moving the area that is affected, its flexibility and strength will not decline. This can prevent further complications and slow the progression of the condition. Exercise plans should be approved by a doctor to ensure safety and efficacy.

Talk Therapy

Another way to cope with the pain is to engage in talk therapy. Usually, this involves learning skills to live with a chronic condition. The setting might be in a traditional doctor’s office where you receive information, or it could be a counseling session with a psychologist. Some types of talk therapy include cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy.

Blocking Pain Sensations with Injections

A more invasive alternative therapy for complex regional pain syndrome involves blocking pain sensations at the site of the injured nerve. Usually, a nerve-blocking agent is delivered with a needle. The injected medicine numbs the nerve, which reduces the pain sensation. A longer lasting option is to insert an internal pain pump that delivers pain medication directly to the spinal cord.

Electrical Stimulation to Reduce Pain

Another option for those with complex regional pain syndrome is electrical stimulation. By sending an electrical current through a nerve, the pain sensations may become less severe. The process involves placing electrodes near the spinal cord and applying a low intensity electrical current. The pain sensation is drowned out by a tingling sensation. Another process dealing with electrical stimulation delivers the electrical current to nerve endings, rather than the spinal cord. This may reduce the pain sensation in some individuals.

Individuals with complex regional pain syndrome can be optimistic when looking for alternative therapies. Electrical stimulation and injections are designed to block the nerve from sending pain sensations. Physical therapy strengthens the body to reduce pain, while talk therapy strengthens the mind to cope with the pain. Heat packs, cold packs, and topical creams are beneficial as well.


1. “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.” MedlinePlus.

2. “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic.