Supplements as a Treatment Option for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)


What is complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), is a type of chronic pain condition. It typically occurs after an injury and affects one limb (arm, leg, hand or foot). Though complex regional pain syndrome is not yet completely understood, it is believed that CRPS develops when the central or peripheral nervous system is damaged or malfunctions. It may also be caused by an immune system response.

Supplements as a treatment for CRPS

Supplements are a popular treatment option for many individuals with chronic pain conditions, including complex regional pain syndrome. Supplements are not cures, but they may have an effect on an individual's condition. It is important to note that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like medications are; therefore, supplements have not undergone rigorous testing and studies required by the FDA.

Some supplements that may help with complex regional pain syndrome include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Devil’s claw and cat’s claw are supplements that individuals may use to reduce pain. These supplements should be taken between meals to reduce the risk of stomach acid interfering with the benefits.
  • White willow bark may decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Primrose and ginger may reduce muscle pain.
  • Turmeric is a spice used in curry that reduces inflammation which may decrease pain and increase joint mobility.
  • Fish oil (DHA/EPA fatty acids), glucosamine/chondroitin, probiotics/prebiotics and melatonin reduce inflammation which may lessen pain symptoms.
  • DMSO (Dimethylsulfoxide) cream applied to the skin may improve pain associated with CRPS.
  • Vitamin C usage, especially after an injury or surgery to an arm or leg, helps prevent the development of CRPS. Vitamin C is best obtained from a diet high in fruits and vegetables, but supplements are available over-the-counter for purchase.
  • Magnesium helps prevent boss loss; however, research suggests that the supplemental use of magnesium does not improve pain caused from CRPS.

Important information regarding supplement use

Natural does not always mean safe. Individuals should always consult a health care provider or pharmacist before taking any supplements, especially with medication. Many supplements are known to have anti-blood-clotting properties; therefore, individuals should consult a physician before adding any supplement to their treatment plan. Disclosing the use of any prescription medicines, over-the-counter medications and other supplements is important when discussing supplement treatment with a health care professional.

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