When people think of permanent disability, conditions like degenerative neurological diseases, spinal injuries and brain injuries often come to mind. After all, these are relatively common conditions among those seeking disability benefits, including Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income. However, there are many other kinds of medical issues that can leave someone unable to work, including mental health conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
There are also many other physical conditions and injuries that can lead to permanent disability. One such condition is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). This condition often results after a trauma to a part of the body, including broken bones or even surgery.
What is CRPS, and how does it develop?
CRPS is a disease that affects the nervous system, usually the nerves in one limb or extremity. It causes constant, serious pain as well as many other symptoms in its sufferers. It is an incredibly painful condition that often limits someone’s ability to work and reduces quality of life at the same time.
CRPS is usually associated with some kind of trauma to a limb or extremity. At times when healing takes place and pain should subside, patients instead find that it persists or continues to get worse. While breaks and surgeries are a commonly known initial cause, CRPS can also result from a fall or a sprain, a repetitive stress injury or even an infection. In fact, roughly 65 percent of cases start with a soft tissue injury.
The symptoms of CRPS can be debilitating
What starts as unexpected pain after an injury can soon develop into a chronic and disabling condition. The four primary symptoms of CRPS include constant, chronic pain, inflammation, spasms of the blood vessels and muscles, and insomnia or emotional changes.
The pain associated with CRPS typically gets labeled by sufferers as burning, deep, tingling and unbearable. For some people, allodynia is also an issue. Even tiny amounts of stimulation, such as the water from a shower or the brush of clothing across the skin may feel painful. Sensitivity to changes in temperature or vibration are also commonly reported.
The affected area may experience inflammation, which can change the coloration of the skin and tissue. Nails or hair growing in the affected area may also change in color or texture. Some people may also experience increased and inappropriate levels of sweating in that area or feel a difference in temperature when comparing the affected limb to the limb on the opposite side of the body. Decreases in strength and range of motion are also common.
CRPS can leave people unable to work
For most people with CRPS, returning to daily work, especially work that requires mental focus or physical labor, could prove to be impossible. These individuals may need to seek Social Security Disability Income benefits to ensure they can pay their bills and receive medical treatment for their symptoms.