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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Lawyer


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a medical condition that involves prolonged and excess inflammation and pain that may follow an injury to a limb. The pain may be excessive or occur spontaneously and is much greater than what would be expected for a patient recovering from surgery or trauma. Most CRPS cases follow trauma and usually affect a foot, leg, hand, or arm. Approximately 200,000 patients in the United States are affected by complex regional pain syndrome annually. While there is no definite cure, immediate treatment has been found to be effective in the management of the condition and preventing it from developing into later stages.

Complex regional pain syndrome is a debilitating condition that may develop from blunt force trauma to the body in a crash. If you developed CRPS from accident-related injuries, call our personal injury lawyers in California to receive free, friendly case advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

After a traumatic injury leading to CRPS, you may be unsure of how to move forward in your situation. During such a trying time, it is essential to know that you do not have to go through it alone. At AutoAccident.com, we have over three decades of experience handling personal injury cases in California. We are dedicated to obtaining justice and fair compensation for those who have suffered harm in accidents caused by the negligence of others. We serve clients statewide and handle cases under a contingent fee agreement meaning you owe us nothing unless we obtain fair compensation on your behalf. Get started today by scheduling a free consultation with one of our experienced complex regional pain syndrome attorneys and learn how we can help you get your life back on track.

What is the Difference Between Type 1 CRPS and Type 2 CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome may occur as a change or exacerbation in existing long-term pain and in an acute setting. The two types of CRPS are as follows:

  • Type 1 CRPS: Approximately 90 percent of all complex regional pain syndrome cases are comprised of type 1. Once known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, there is no distinctive identification of nerve lesions or injuries.
  • Type 2 CRPS: Previously referred to as causalgia, Type 2 CRPS may develop after documented nerve damage.

While complex regional pain syndrome occurs in two types, both have similar symptoms and may develop into the same stages of the disease.

What are the Stages of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

The three stages of CRPS are acute, subacute, and chronic:

  • Stage I: The duration of this stage is one to three months. It may involve symptoms such as joint pain, muscle spasms, the rapid growth of the nails and hair, redness and warmth in the affected limb, and increased sensitivity to touch.
  • Stage II: This stage may last up to 12 months. Symptoms such as cracked or brittle fingernails, widespread pain, changes in the skin, increased stiffness, weakened muscles, and an increased level of pain may occur.
  • Stage III: When complex regional pain syndrome is left untreated to this stage, the patient may experience difficulty moving the affected limb from excruciating pain. This may result in permanent changes from the progressive degeneration of the tendons and muscles (atrophy).

An immediate diagnosis and extensive treatment may assist in managing symptoms of CRPS and prevent it from progressing into later stages.

What are the Common Reasons for CRPS?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), most complex regional pain syndrome cases are the result of injury to peripheral sensory neurons leading to dysfunction or damage. Some of the most common reasons for CRPS may include genetics, bone fractures, surgical intervention, cuts or burns, immobilization of the limb, and strains or sprains. Exposure to nerve toxins and health conditions like diabetes may affect the resilience of the nerves and impact nerve regeneration. In some rare cases, CRPS may occur from penetrations causing trauma to a superficial sensory nerve. While the traumatic injury to the nerve may be obvious in some CRPS cases, others may require the services of a specialist to locate and treat the affected area.

How is CRPS Diagnosed?

There is no gold standard exam for complex regional pain syndrome. That is because a definite pathophysiologic mechanism has not yet been identified for this medical condition. Therefore, diagnosis may include a comprehensive examination with a physician that is well-versed in sensory nerve anatomy and its normal patterns. This may include a plastic surgeon, orthopedist, or neurologist. The physician may order magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound to assist in the reveal of underlying damage to the nerve. In the identification of the injured nerve, characteristic abnormalities of the bone marrow and the bone may show up on an MRI. Since this health condition has the potential to improve with time, early diagnosis and treatment are essential.

How is CRPS Treated?

Physicians will utilize various approaches in the treatment of CRPS symptoms as there is no known cure for this health condition. These may include but is not limited to:

  • Medications: There is no medication marketed specifically for complex regional pain syndrome that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, reports have suggested that various classes of medication have been found to be effective in the management of symptoms from CRPS. This may include acetaminophen for pain management, bisphosphonates that decrease changes in the bone, botulinum toxin injections for the relaxation of contracted muscles, corticosteroids for the treatment of edema and inflammation, drugs prescribed and proven to be effective for other conditions involving neuropathic pain, and opioids in cases involving severe pain.
  • Rehabilitation: Physical therapy is the most essential treatment for complex regional pain syndrome. That is because it maintains function, flexibility, and strength of the affected limb in addition to decreasing circulatory symptoms and improving blood flow. Rehabilitation of the affected limb may also assist in the prevention or reversal of changes in the brain related to chronic pain and disuse in addition to secondary injury to the spinal cord. Patients may benefit from occupational therapy as it may help them return to daily tasks and work and learn new ways of staying active with their current health condition.
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation: Electrodes with stimulating effects may help normalize signaling into the brain and spinal cord by blocking sensations of pain. This is accomplished by threading them into a needle into the spine just outside the spinal cord. Minor surgical intervention is necessary for the implantation of the electrodes, battery, and stimulator. An external controller may be used to turn on the stimulators and adjust them as needed.

Early recognition and treatment of CRPS are crucial to the prevention of loss of function, chronic pain, and disability. If complex regional pain syndrome is left untreated, it may develop into later stages. This may result in atrophy and contractures from the difficulty of moving the affected limb due to severe pain. Such changes have the potential to become permanent in some cases.

Is There Enough Insurance to Cover Injuries from an Accident?

Complex regional pain syndrome often requires extensive treatment that may prove to be costly and may exceed the bodily injury liability coverage limits carried by the at-fault party. In situations where the other side has no liability coverage, the claimant may feel as if they are at a loss when it comes to being compensated for their economic and non-economic damages. Fortunately, an injured person may bring a claim through their uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to pay for the losses involved with CRPS that developed from their accident-related injuries. UM and UIM protection will generally cover medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, and other losses up to the limits of the insurance plan. For more information, discuss your case with an experienced injury lawyer in your area. Details on how to select a top complex regional pain syndrome attorney are available through this video.

Why Do You Need Medical Records for a Personal Injury Case?

Medical records play a pivotal role in personal injury claims involving CRPS. The injured party has a burden of proof to demonstrate that they suffered economic and non-economic damages in the accident. Medical records may help corroborate the claimant’s story through a timeline of complex regional pain syndrome diagnosis, costs of medical treatment, and the impact the trauma has had on their life. They may also prove a physician’s prognosis for reasonable and necessary medical treatment and serve as evidence for future needed care.

Given that there are no identified pathophysiological mechanisms for CRPS, it is without a doubt that the insurance company and defense counsel will dispute injury cases involving this health condition. This may present in the form of claiming that the condition is unrelated to accident-related injuries, medical treatment was excessive, and other defense strategies. When a party injured in an accident has developed CRPS, it is in their best interests to retain legal counsel immediately to handle their civil case. Insurers are in the business of protecting their profit margins, and that often comes at the cost of injured parties through devaluing or denying their claims. Do not let this happen to you, and hire the best complex regional pain syndrome lawyer to protect your rights.

What Does the Statute of Limitations Mean in California?

The statute of limitations is the amount of time a claimant must file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. It generally starts on the date of the collision resulting in trauma. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1, an injured party has two years from the crash date to file in civil court. While most cases are settled through insurance negotiations, there are some situations that may prompt the need for taking the case to court. Claims adjusters utilize software such as Colossus and may set the computer algorithm to intentionally underpay claims as a way of protecting the profit margins for the insurance company. Filing a lawsuit in civil court is often necessary to remove the personal injury claim from the Colossus system and have a jury decide on an appropriate award.

There are some exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations for accident cases in California. If the injured party was under 18-years-old when the serious injury occurred, the filing deadline may be tolled until their 18th birthday. From there, they will have two years to file in civil court if an insurance settlement is not accepted within that period. Conversely, cases involving public agencies are subject to a shorter time limit. Under the California Government Code Section 911.2, an injured party must file a notice of claim within 180 days. Failure to meet the statute of limitations applicable to the bodily injury claim may result in the court’s dismissal of the case and the loss of the right to seek compensatory damages for accident-related injuries.

While an injured party may have up to two years to file a case in civil court, that does not necessarily mean that they should wait. There is a wide array of benefits when it comes to hiring an accident attorney immediately to handle your case, and there are also significant disadvantages for waiting too long. When legal counsel is retained immediately, they will conduct an independent investigation of the incident that caused complex regional pain syndrome, interview witnesses, and collect key evidence. The lawyer will also handle communications with the insurance company on your behalf to ensure that you are not taken advantage of during your time of recovery. Do not let a delay in legal action affect your right to fair financial recovery, and discuss your case with an experienced CRPS lawyer right away.

Contact a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Attorney Today

At AutoAccident.com, we are dedicated to providing our clients with legal representation at the highest level to obtain successful results on their behalf. Our unparalleled experience in California personal injury law is reflected in the settlements and verdicts we have obtained on behalf of our clients since 1982. Learn how we can help you with your CRPS case by calling today to set up a free consultation at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are available anytime to review the specifics of your case and provide free, friendly advice on how to move forward.

Photo Credit: Pexels User “Karolina-Grabowska

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