Your Teen: More Than Just Growing Pains, Understanding CPRS in Teens
By Lisa Kanarek
Almost three years ago, Sammie was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a form of chronic pain. The burning and tingling she feels in her arms and legs are constant reminders of spraining her wrist after bracing for a fall while running, and fracturing her ankles while dancing. In other words, Sammie’s CRPS is the result of engaging in typical teenage activities. But she’s working on reclaiming a pain-free life.
Although typically seen in the arms and legs, CRPS can affect any part of the body. Symptoms include extreme sensitivity to touch and discoloration and temperature changes in the affected area. “Those are the things I wouldn’t ordinarily expect with growing pains,” says Dr. Emily Fox, a pediatric rheumatologist at Children’s Mercy.
“Unfortunately, a fair amount of people get told that it’s in their head, just suck it up and move on,” says Dr. Fox. “This is a very real nerve and blood vessel problem.”
“The mind-body connection is very powerful,” says Dr. Fox. “That’s why we need to treat the whole picture.” Along with addressing the physical side effects of CRPS, she advises her patients to see a psychologist or counselor for dealing with the emotional and psychological aspects of living with CRPS.
Doing what Dr. Fox calls “homework,” including exercise, desensitization and de-stressing can yield good results.
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