The Law Center For Social Security Disability
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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and disability

Complex regional pain syndrome, a name often used for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, is a condition that, in some workers, qualifies as a disability. This condition causes chronic pain, rendering some people unable to retain full-time employment. 

Some employees with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy must turn to part-time work; it is difficult for these workers to meet their cost-of-living requirements under chronic pain conditions that inhibit their activities. 

Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome 

CRPS is a painful and debilitating condition characterized by:

  • Muscle loss and atrophy, weakness, muscle spasms and tremors
  • Decreased movement of the body part or parts involved
  • Stiffness in joints and joint damage
  • Painful localized swelling
  • Temperature sensitivity to cold
  • Profuse sweating and discomfort to touch
  • Skin temperature and color changes
  • Tender, thin skin texture in the area of injury
  • Hair and nail growth anomalies
  • Intractable throbbing or burning pain, often in an extremity

Causes of CRPS

Research is underway to understand why some people develop CRPS. Triggers for CRPS may include a crush injury, amputation or fracture to a limb. Other injuries or diseases, such as heart attacks and infection, can trigger CRPS, as can minor injuries such as spraining an elbow. Current thinking in medical research leans toward dysfunctional interactions between inflammatory responses and the peripheral central nervous system. 

Treatment for CRPS

An earlier diagnosis yields a better outcome in most cases of CRPS. Treatment delays can result in chronic pain and instability and progress to a permanent tightening of the muscles into a fixed position from contracture. Deterioration and weakness of bones, muscles or skin can result in significant limits to mobility. Research suggests that treatment with Vitamin C after a broken bone or early mobilization through motion rehabilitation after a stroke can reduce the risk of developing this condition.

Can CRPS qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

Yes, people with CRPS do qualify in certain cases for SSD or SSDI. The condition can be severe enough to limit a person's ability to work. A qualified professional who understands Social Security disability can help people who suffer from CRPS to determine if they meet the requirements necessary to receive Social Security benefits for this debilitating and painful disorder.

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The Law Center for Social
Security Disability

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