RSD/CRPS Lawsuit Settlement
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), is a chronic pain condition that usually affects the arm or leg. CRPS/RSD typically develops after an injury, surgery, stroke, or heart attack and causes excruciating pain.
Although the exact cause of complex regional pain syndrome is unknown, the condition usually follows an injury to the arm or leg or a failed surgery. Negligence also plays a role in many CRPS/RSD cases, including medical malpractice.
Did you develop complex regional pain syndrome due to someone else’s negligence? If so, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC could help you pursue financial compensation from negligent parties. Our experienced attorneys assist victims through the legal process and ensure they receive fair settlements through insurance negotiations or litigation.
Contact our personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.
What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a chronic condition that can cause severe pain, inflammation, and skin color and temperature changes. It usually affects the arms or legs, but can also develop in the eyes, face, chest, abdomen, and other body parts.
Usually, CRPS improves over time and may eventually go away in some cases. However, remission is possible, and severe cases often lead to debilitating pain.
Most complex regional pain syndrome cases stem from malfunctioning peripheral C-fiber nerve fibers, which transmit pain signals to the brain. The excessive firing of these fibers causes the distinctive pain that CRPS patients experience and the inflammation that helps promote healing after an injury.
What Causes CRPS?
The exact cause of complex regional pain syndrome is unknown. However, theories suggest that the initial injury affects the pain receptors in the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), leading to dysfunction.
The sympathetic nervous system regulates the body’s responses to stress. A malfunctioning SNS may mistranslate neural signals as pain. Furthermore, it can permanently change muscle makeup, bones, skin, and blood vessels and cause progressive symptoms that may lead to debilitation.
According to medical experts, CRPS can stem from the following:
- Physical Trauma: Over 90% of cases occur after significant injury to the arm or leg, involving damage to the thinnest sensory and autonomic nerve fibers in the affected limb. These fibers are responsible for transmitting pain, itch, and temperature sensations. CRPS can develop from a bone fracture, sprain, or strain.
In rare cases, accidental penetration (e.g., a minor injury from a needle) can puncture the superficial sensory nerve, causing CRPS.
- Surgical Errors: Surgical incisions, sutures, and retractors can damage the nerves and lead to CRPS. Surgery-related CRPS usually occurs in procedures on the hands, feet, and ankles.
- Minor Injuries: Lesser injuries like burns or cuts may have underlying nerve damage.
- Casting: When a limb is put in a cast, the cast can restrict blood flow to the limb, press on the nerves, and reduce sensory input. After cast removal, the neurons may need time to return to normal functions.
- Cardiovascular Events: A heart attack or stroke can cause nerve damage, increasing the risk of CRPS. However, cardiovascular-related CRPS cases are rare.
Sometimes, people with CRPS can’t identify a causal injury or event, but the cause is usually a nerve injury. Tiny blood clots can sometimes block circulation to a nerve and cause damage. In rare cases, an infection, tumor, or abnormal blood vessels lead to nerve irritation.
A doctor must conduct a thorough examination to identify internal problems if the condition has no evident cause.
What are The Two Types of CRPS?
Doctors classify complex regional pain syndrome into two types:
- CRPS I: In previous years, patients were classified as having CRPS I (previously known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy) if a tissue injury triggered the condition. CRPS I also refers to cases with uncertainty about the exact nerve affected. About 90% of people with CRPS are classified into Type I. It is also the most common cause of personal injury and workers’ compensation claims.
- CRPS II: Previously known as causalgia, CRPS II refers to cases triggered by a nerve injury. Many patients with CRPS II have more severe injuries that damage nerves going to the muscles (motor nerves), causing weakness and muscle atrophy. Damage to the motor nerves can affect muscle movement, wherein the muscles have conscious control, such as those used for walking and talking.
Who is Most at Risk for CRPS?
Anyone who experiences physical trauma may be at risk of developing CRPS. However, it is most common in women (usually post-menopausal) and people under 60 years old. CRPS is rare in the elderly, who experience less inflammation after an injury, and children who can heal quickly.
If a CRPS injury is already present, the following factors can impede healing and worsen complications:
- Poor Circulation: The affected body part must receive enough oxygen and nutrients from the blood to heal faster. Symptoms may worsen when poor circulation leads to more intense swelling, muscle weakness, and joint pain.
- Genetics: Some people heal slower because of genetics. Furthermore, familial CRPS may be more intense with more significant dystonia (movement disorder causing involuntary muscle contraction), earlier onset of CRPS, and the involvement of more than one limb.
- Poor Nerve Health: Illnesses like diabetes (which causes diabetic neuropathy) and bone marrow disorders can make the nerves more susceptible to damage, increasing the risk of CRPS.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Many CRPS patients experience a combination of one or more of the following symptoms:
- Acute Pain: A distinctive sign of CRPS is spontaneous pain that may be constant or fluctuate with activity. Some patients describe it as “pins and needles” or a burning sensation. Over time, chronic nerve inflammation can cause intense pain to spread all over the affected limb.
- Excessive or Extended Pain After Activity: Some patients experience allodynia, a condition wherein a person experiences extreme pain from light contact with the affected area. Other patients suffer hyperalgesia, which causes prolonged and severe pain after a mildly painful stimulus.
- Skin Temperature and Color Changes: An injured arm or leg may feel warmer or colder to the touch due to abnormal blood flow. Some people with CRPS experience skin color changes, such as the body part turning blue, purple, gray, pale, or red.
- Skin Texture Changes: Over time, reduced circulation of oxygen and nutrients to an injured area can cause the skin’s texture to change. It can become shiny and thin or scaly and thick.
- Abnormal Nail and Hair Growth: Sometimes, regional sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) can cause abnormally rapid hair or nail growth on the injured limb--or no growth at all. The root cause for this symptom is the reduced flow of nutrients and oxygen in the affected area.
- Joint Stiffness: A patient with CRPS may have limited movement, reducing flexibility in the tendons and ligaments.
When left untreated, CRPS can progress to other symptoms:
- Muscle Atrophy and Muscle Spasms: Someone with chronic pain may not be able or willing to move the injured limb as often. As a result, the limb’s tissue deteriorates and weakens due to disuse. Some people experience muscle spasms or tremors.
- Muscle Contractions: Muscle tightening or contracture usually results from the tightening of the affected muscles. When left untreated, the affected hands, toes, and fingers may contract into a fixed position.
How Is CRPS Diagnosed?
CRPS diagnosis is challenging. Firstly, no specific diagnostic test exists to diagnose CRPS and identify the damaged nerve. Secondly, many conditions have similar symptoms to CRPS. Hence, doctors usually diagnose CRPS after ruling out other disorders or illnesses.
Diagnosis testing may include:
- A complete medical history that may reveal an underlying injury or event, such as a fall accident
- Blood tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, such as infections
- A detailed physical examination by a medical professional familiar with sensory nerve anatomies, such as a neurologist or orthopedist
- Imaging tests (e.g., MRI) that may help identify an injured nerve
- Bone scans that might help identify bone changes, indicating nerve damage
- Sweat production tests that measure the amount of sweat produced by both limbs; uneven results may point to CRPS
- Nerve conduction studies that detect some CRPS-related nerve injuries
How is CRPS Treated?
Mild cases of CRPS usually resolve on their own. Otherwise, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for a favorable prognosis. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
- Pain Relievers: Patients can use over-the-counter pain medication (e.g., naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, aspirin) to relieve chronic pain. Doctors may prescribe opioids for patients experiencing excruciating pain.
- Antidepressants, Anticonvulsants, and Corticosteroids: In some cases, people experiencing pain from a damaged nerve may benefit from antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Steroid medications may help reduce inflammation and improve limb mobility.
- Physical Therapy: Most patients with CRPS undergo physical therapy to increase mobility in the affected body part. Regular physical movement can help reduce pain, maintain flexibility, decrease the risk of muscle atrophy, and prevent additional injuries.
- Spinal Cord Stimulator: A spinal cord stimulator is an electrical device positioned next to the spinal column and may help reduce pain.
- Sympathetic Nerve Blocks: Injecting anesthetic into the affected nerves can help block pain fibers.
- Bone Loss Medications: Doctors may prescribe bone loss medications (e.g., alendronate, calcitonin) to prevent or slow down the progression of bone loss.
- Intravenous Ketamine: Some people experiencing extreme chronic pain may benefit from intravenous ketamine, a strong anesthetic.
- Psychiatric Care: In addition to pain management and physical therapy, your doctor may recommend mental health treatment after you are diagnosed with CRPS. Chronic pain can be physically and mentally draining, and psychiatric treatment can significantly help.
What Happens When You Have Chronic Pain?
Unrelenting pain and limited mobility can birth other consequences to one’s health and well-being, such as:
- Mental health problems
- Social isolation
- Reduced independence
- Sleep disturbances
- Reduced appetite
- Poor work or school performance
Excruciating Pain Increases the Risk of Suicide
Because of its intense and often debilitating symptoms and the fact that there is no cure, CRPS is considered a suicide disease. Patients may develop mental health problems due to physical and emotional stress, increasing the risk of self-harm and suicide.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the following:
- 988 (Suicide & Crisis Lifeline)
- 1-800-799-4889 (National Suicide Prevention Hotline)
Can You Sue Someone for Causing Your Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
CRPS can stem from a severe injury. If you were injured in a car accident or workplace fall caused by someone else’s negligence, you could have grounds for a personal injury claim.
The following incidents may lead to CRPS injuries and therefore become bases for legal claims:
- Slip and falls
- Car accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Negligent security incidents
Medical malpractice can also lead to nerve damage, which, in turn, can cause CRPS. You can sue a healthcare professional for medical malpractice if the professional:
- Injure a nerve during surgery
- Diagnose CRPS as another condition
- Fail to diagnose CRPS on time
- Prescribe the wrong treatment
You may also file a workers’ comp claim with your employer if the underlying injury occurred at your workplace or while carrying out your duties. You can recover worker’s comp even if you were at fault for the accident, and there is no need to prove your employer’s negligence.
What Are the Elements of a CRPS Claim?
To file a successful claim against the entities responsible for your injury, you must prove the following are true:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you. Generally, all people owe a duty of care to avoid injuring others. In other words, everyone must act reasonably and prudently to prevent causing or creating a risk of harm to other people. Property owners and medical professionals usually owe a higher duty of care because they must adhere to specific safety standards.
- The defendant breached this duty of care. A ‘breach of duty’ is an act of negligence that affects other people’s safety and well-being. For instance, a driver breaches their duty of care by speeding and risking a car accident. A doctor falls short of their legal obligation by failing to diagnose CRPS, leading to medical malpractice.
- You suffered a serious injury. You must present a CRPS diagnosis when filing a claim and other injuries you may have incurred.
- The defendant’s actions directly led to your damages. Lastly, you must prove that the defendant’s negligence directly caused your economic and non-economic injuries.
Who is Liable for Your Injury?
The defendants in CRPS claims vary. Potentially liable parties may include:
- Property owners
- Business owners
- Drivers, pedestrians, and motorcyclists
- Manufacturers of defective products
- Local governments
- Medical professionals
What Damages Can You Recover?
By filing a personal injury or medical malpractice claim, you could recover financial compensation for the following losses:
- Medical Expenses: Out-of-pocket costs for emergency transportation, therapy, surgery, hospitalization, medication, and future medical expenses.
- Disability: Mobility aid costs, rehabilitation therapy, and other related damages if you suffer a permanent disability from CRPS.
- Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for physical and emotional injuries, including physical pain, emotional anguish, etc.
- Lost Wages: Salaries, wages, benefits, and revenue lost due to your injuries.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Financial compensation for quality or enjoyment of life lost due to CRPS.
- Wrongful Death: Funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical care expenses, loss of consortium, and other related damages if your loved one dies due to CRPS.
- Punitive Damages: Additional compensation used to punish defendants for gross negligence, e.g., egregious medical malpractice.
If applicable to your case, you may receive the following benefits under workers’ compensation:
- Medical Bills: Out-of-pocket costs for all medical care related to your injuries.
- Disability: Income replacement based on your average weekly wage (AWW) and the level of your disability (temporary or permanent, partial or total).
- Vocational Training and Career Assistance: Costs of training used to help workers find new jobs if they cannot return to their previous positions. For instance, if a construction worker is injured on the job and can no longer walk, they can no longer work as a construction worker. Vocational training can help them find a new occupation.
What is The Average Settlement Value for CRPS Claims?
No two CRPS cases are the same because of the condition’s complex nature. Hence, it is difficult to identify an accurate average payout for CRPS claims.
Furthermore, the underlying injury’s nature influences the settlement value. For instance, a severe car accident causing multiple injuries may be worth more than a simple medical malpractice case.
Based on our previous cases, the average settlement is around $10,000 to $30,000, depending on the severity of the injuries. However, payouts can surpass the $100,000 mark, especially for medical malpractice cases.
Factors That Can Affect Settlement Value
The following factors can influence how much you receive in compensation:
- Your age
- Your health status
- The severity of your pain and injuries
- The level of negligence involved in the underlying incident
- The presence of a long-term disability
- The extent of your damages
- The amount of coverage available from the defendant’s policy
Why Should You Hire a CRPS Lawyer?
Fortunately, complex regional pain syndrome is a recognized medical condition, and we have attorneys specializing in it. With our team’s expertise, we can help you recover fair compensation for this painful condition and reduce your financial burden.
Once you hand over your case, our lawyers will build a strong claim by:
- Investigating the underlying accident that led to your medical condition
- Identifying liable parties and establishing their role in your injury
- Consulting medical experts to determine how your doctor was negligent in the case of medical malpractice
- Calculating the extent of your damages
- Determining the amount you should receive in compensation
- Collecting evidence to support your personal injury or medical malpractice claim
- Filing a claim with the appropriate insurance company
- Negotiating a fair settlement
- Filing a civil lawsuit, if necessary
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a chronic condition usually stemming from a trauma-related nerve injury. A car accident, a slip and fall, medical malpractice, and other negligence-related incidents can lead to CRPS.
CRPS can lead to debilitating pain and even a long-term disability. Often, people with CRPS cannot return to their everyday lives for long periods, leading to insurmountable economic losses.
Recovering damages for CRPS shouldn’t be difficult. The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC attorneys are here to help you hold at-fault parties responsible and obtain a fair settlement based on your losses.
Contact our personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for a free case evaluation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our lawyers handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. Under this agreement, you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.