CRPS is a chronic pain condition that usually affects one of the body’s extremities (an arm, leg, hand or foot) and is caused by a malfunction in the nervous system, usually as the result of an injury.
James North, MD, a board-certiﬁed anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist, explains it this way:
“The nerves in the body communicate with one another through neurotransmitters. So, if you experience a minor stimulant, like the wind blowing on you, it might trigger the release of one neurotransmitter to one receptor. However, a more intense stimulant, like smashing your toe, could release hundreds of neurotransmitters into hundreds of receptors. Unfortunately, for people with CRPS, one neurotransmitter can bind to hundreds of receptors. As a result, their pain response doesn’t match up with the stimulation; there is an ampliﬁed response. The wind on their skin could cause as much pain as a smashed toe.”
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