TREND is a medical research group that has a primary goal of researching methods to improve treatment of CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome), which is also known as PD (Post-Traumatic Dystrophy). The TREND Consortium of research and treatment has been developed to better understand and treat the disorder known as CRPS. This organization is newly formed and has already made great strides in better understanding the syndrome as well as making advancements toward a more effective treatment for patients that suffer from this affliction.
The disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), is sometimes referred to as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), this syndrome can be long term and the condition will generally get worse over time. This syndrome causes several symptoms: severe pain and sensitivity, swelling, and changes in the skin. CRPS typically starts with a traumatic event, such as a broken limb, and will affect only that area. Over time, the disorder can spread to other areas of the body and increase pain and discomfort throughout the patient’s entire body.
Although the disorder is often extant with dis-regulation of the central and automatic nervous systems, it is not known what the exact causes of the various functional losses are, and it is this lack of knowledge that prevents a better and more complete understanding of the disability. The syndrome is often brought on by a traumatic event such as a broken bone, however, it is important to note that there are some few cases where the affliction begins without any type of trauma or injury to the site. The classification of the disorder as an “amplified musculoskeletal pain syndrome” does not address the psychological effects that CRPS can bring on, primarily due to the poor quality of life the disorder brings to the patient.
Additionally, treatment of CRPS is not straightforward, and is often quite complex, including pharmaceutical treatments, occupational and physical therapy, therapy to deal with the depression caused by the pain and decrease in life quality. Further complications arise when therapies and treatments do not commence immediately, and if there is a delay in diagnosis, the patient can expect a rather arduous and challenging uphill battle in their recovery and treatment process.
In the cases of CRPS where there had been an initial trauma prior to the onset of the disorder, the patient can expect symptoms that are localized to the injury site, and are typically sharp pain and throbbing in nature. Any movement of the limb can become too painful for the patient to take, and a simple touch unbearable. There can also be symptoms such as swelling, excessive sweating, hot or cold temperatures of the skin, and stiffness. Other symptoms relating to mobility and feelings of tenderness at the area of injury are also commonly reported. There have been lesser reported symptoms such as fainting and problems with vision, but these are considered to be rare in occurrence. There have also been a limited amount of cases where the symptoms of CRPS have spread from one limb to another, although this is also rare.
Most researches into CRPS do agree that the main culprit of these signs and symptoms is due to nerve damage. Once the nerve relationships with pain is disrupted, there can be some signs of improvement for the patient. The pain signaling is one aspect of the affliction that has researchers hopeful that more robust treatments may be found to ease the discomfort experienced by sufferers of CRPS.
It is estimated that a small percentage of patients that suffer from paralysis on one side of their bodies, or who have some type of peripheral nerve damage, will become afflicted with CRPS. Researchers also continue to explore the link between CRPS and its manifestation in patients that are active cigarette smokers. This habit has also been linked to RSD. This correlation may be caused by constriction for the arteries, but additional research is necessary to better understand this phenomenon.
The diagnosis of CRPS is the occurrence of improvement in the initial limb trauma without direct treatment. The severe physical and psychological that can develop undetected can grow into a much larger situation than if they had been detected closer to onset.