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What is Causalgia?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Also known as Type 2 Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS, causalgia is a rare condition in which the arms or legs experience a continual sense of aching or burning pain. The condition is often accompanied by sweating, discoloration of the area that is experiencing the burning or itching, and a high degree of sensitivity. This pain can become worse over time, and is easier to treat if diagnosed and addressed in the early stages.

In addition to pain and discoloration, causalgia can also manifest several other symptoms. There is a noticeable change in the rate of nail and hair growth. The joints of the infected limb are likely to become stiff or begin to function improperly. In addition to becoming sensitive to the touch, the temperature of the affected limb may increase in a fashion that is somewhat like a localized fever.

There are a number of factors that can lead to the development of CRPS. Trauma to the limb is usually the underlying cause. The trauma may occur due to an injury sustained in an accident or a gunshot wound, for instance. Other issues can also trigger the condition, such as an infection, fractures to the bones in the limb, or even something as simple as a sprained wrist or ankle. At present, there is no consensus among health care professionals as to why causalgia may be triggered in some cases but not appear in others.

Causalgia treatment will often depend on the type of symptoms and their severity. The application of hot and cold packs to the lower or upper limb can sometimes help to ease the itching and sense of heat. Topical creams that contain analgesics can sometimes help to minimize the pain and help stiff joint to become more limber. Warm baths can also be effective for minor cases of the condition.

With more advanced cases, the treatment of causalgia syndrome will involve the use of physical therapy to help ease the joint stiffness and improve the range of motion. Medication to block the pain may also be prescribed by the attending physician. A procedure known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can sometimes be used to send electric impulses through the nerves and ease the swelling and the pain. There is also a procedure involving the insertion of electrodes along the spinal column; the electrodes can be used to administer a small burst of current that helps to relax stiff muscles and ease nerve pain.

When diagnosed early, causalgia can often be managed with a great deal of success. There is also an increased opportunity for remission if the condition is treated shortly after its development. However, cases where the health issue is not diagnosed until the symptoms have progressed is likely to result in damage that is more or less permanent.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Mar 26, 2014

@candyquilt-- Causagia is a difficult disorder but as the article said, early treatment with medications and physical therapy can be very effective. Anesthetics can also be given in injection or IV form to reduce the pain. I'm not familiar with the newer treatments like nerve stimulation but it seems like there are going to be newer and better treatment options available for pain conditions like these. So things are looking better for causalgia sufferers than before.

By candyquilt — On Mar 25, 2014

@donasmrs-- I'm not a doctor or expert, but as far as I know, causalgia is due to a problem in the central nervous system. So the nerves are certainly affected. Nerves might not function properly or become extremely sensitive or inflamed. Usually it also leads to loss of function. It's a very serious condition and very painful.

This health disorder not only leads to physical damage, but it's also very damaging for the psychology of those suffering from it. Chronic pain in general is very difficult to tolerate. Moreover, sometimes people get misdiagnosed with other chronic pain conditions and may not receive the right treatment.

By donasmrs — On Mar 25, 2014

Is causalgia a nerve problem? Do these symptoms occur because the nerves are damaged?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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