What you need to know about CRPS
CRPS is a condition which can arise following an injury. It has not always been recognised and acknowledged by the medical profession, however it is now understood as a condition that deserves compensation. Our personal injury team has specialist knowledge in this area and a proven track record of helping CRPS sufferers to get compensation.
To find out more about a specific area, please click the links below:
- CRPS symptoms
- Causes of CRPS
- Managing CRPS
- Making a compensation claim
- Finding the right solicitor to support you
What are the most common CRPS symptoms?
CRPS is characterised by the following symptoms:
- severe pain often described as a “burning” sensation
- swelling and stiffness in the affected joint
- hypersensitivity of the skin
- changes in skin temperature, texture and/or colour
- changes in nail and/or hair growth patterns
- swelling and/or stiffness in affected joints
- motor dysfunction in the affected limb or body part
- consequential psychological difficulties.
CRPS pain continues long after the original injury has healed.
What usually causes CRPS?
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic neurological disorder caused by problems with the body’s response to an injury.
CRPS is the result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems, where signals between an injured limb or body part and the brain are misread. As a result, the nervous system makes the sufferer more sensitive to pain. Sufferers tend to experience pain of a more serious nature than would usually be expected from the type of injury suffered.
Is CRPS manageable?
Early treatment of CRPS can actually increase the chances of making a recovery. For many though, CRPS is a permanent or prolonged disease.
There is no cure for CRPS. However, the condition can be managed and treatment is usually given to relieve the pain which occurs as a result of the condition. Once diagnosed by a medical expert, treatment can be coordinated through a number of professional providers. This enables relief of painful symptoms as early on in the claim as possible.
For example, for our clients, we frequently obtain early interim payments to fund the cost of additional rehabilitation recommended by medical experts. These can include:
- inpatient stays
- sympathetic nerve blocks
- spinal cord stimulation
- psychological intervention.
It is important that treatment providers have sufficient knowledge of CRPS – for example, we work closely with The Specialist Pain Physio, Richmond Stace, to help sufferers understand the most up to date options and techniques available to them for pain management.
Our clients are also put in touch with other CRPS sufferers who can offer support and understanding. We support and work closely with CRPS-UK, a patient-led charity seeking to unite CRPS sufferers.
Our team also has links to the National CRPS Rehabilitation Service, based in Bath.
What can you claim compensation for?
If you are successful in establishing liability, evidence will be gathered and you will be advised upon the value of your claim. The factors to be taken into account in valuing claims for CRPS include the following:
- the degree of pain experienced
- the overall impact of the symptoms on mobility, ability to function in daily life and the need for care/assistance
- the effect of the condition on your ability to work
- the need to take medication to control symptoms of pain and the effect of such medication on your ability to function in normal daily life
- the extent to which treatment has been undertaken and its effect (or its predicted effect in respect of future treatment)
- whether the condition is limited to one anatomical site or is widespread
- the presence of any separately identifiable psychiatric disorder and its impact on the perception of pain
- your age
- prognosis: the anticipated duration of your symptoms and/or the expected progression of your symptoms (i.e. will your symptoms get better or worse).
In addition, you will be entitled to claim for any out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident, for example:
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of pension
- Care and assistance provided by family and friends
- Treatment expenses
- Aids and equipment purchased to help manage your condition
- Medication costs
In addition to out of pocket expenses already incurred, you can also claim for out of pocket expenses which you can reasonably expect to incur in the future, where such losses are supported by independent medical evidence.
Should you have representation for a personal injury, but think you have CRPS, what should you do now?
You have the freedom to choose who handles your claim. If your current solicitor does not have the specialist expertise, it may be appropriate to think about changing solicitors.
Due to the imprecise nature of CRPS, this area of personal injury litigation is extremely complex and requires expert understanding and analysis of the medical evidence.
Insurance companies are often suspicious about cases where a medical expert cannot fully explain either why a patient is suffering from the symptoms, or conclusively attribute them to the accident.
In the absence of a perceived “orthodox” explanation, insurers may refuse to accept that symptoms have been caused by the accident at all. It is therefore crucial to instruct experts and solicitors who fully understand CRPS.