Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Claims

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, is a chronic pain condition, the cause of which remains unknown. However, it often develops in someone who suffers personal injury in an accident.

Nick Tunnicliffe

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Victims of CRPS experience persistent and debilitating pain, which usually affects a single limb but can spread to other areas of the body. The initial injury that sets off Complex Regional Pain Syndrome may be as minor as a cut finger. Even where the damage sustained in the accident is more severe than a cut finger, the subsequent pain from CRPS is still often disproportionate to the suffering usually associated with the initial type of injury sustained.

There is no cure for CRPS, although it is possible to manage it to an extent with medication and therapy. People who get CRPS may suffer from the effects of the condition over a long period and, in some cases, forever.

Around 16,000 people in the UK have CRPS.

Not long ago, many considered CRPS a figment of the imagination; in other words, it was a psychological condition. Fortunately, both the medical and legal professions have moved on from that position. CRPS is most definitely a physical condition and a painful, debilitating one for which there is no cure.

Can I claim for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome compensation?

You can claim compensation for CRPS so long as:

  1. The accident that caused the initial injury occurred within the last three years.
  2. The accident must have been the fault of somebody else, for example;

If you suffer an injury in an accident that was someone else's fault and are later diagnosed with CRPS, you may be able to bring a claim for CRPS compensation against whoever was responsible.

You may still be able to claim for CRPS even if you have already made a successful compensation claim for the initial injury incurred in the accident.

Why Should I choose Spencers Solicitors to handle my CRPS claim for me?

Our name might have changed since we first opened in the centre of Chesterfield, on the edge of the Peak District, in 1975, but Spencers Solicitors have been helping the victims of accidents to get the justice they deserve for over 45 years. Our Chairman John Spencer is one of the UK's leading personal injury solicitors. He has received recognition from his peers by receiving two Outstanding Achievement Awards during his long career. 

Our Serious Injury Solicitors team is dedicated to handling personal injury cases of the utmost complexity and has recovered millions of pounds worth of compensation for clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries due to accidents that were not their fault.

Not all personal injury solicitors have the knowledge and expertise to handle Complex Regional Pain Syndrome claims successfully. Spencers Solicitors have acted on behalf of CRPS claimants over many years, recovering compensation and helping our clients to get the best treatment, rehabilitation and support available to help them manage their condition and improve their quality of life.

Our serious injury team understands how daunting the prospect of making a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Claim can be, especially whilst you are struggling with the disabling symptoms caused by CRPS.

Our dedicated team will guide you through the process and will be on hand to answer any questions you have along the way. We'll take the strain of the claim off your shoulders, so you have one less thing to worry about.

How much compensation can I get for a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Claim

If your CRPS claim is successful, you can expect to receive;

General damages

General damages are compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity. 'Loss of amenity' refers to the extent to which your day-to-day life has been affected by CRPS.

The amount of general damages you receive depends on various factors but primarily on the severity of your condition.

During the claims process, you will visit a medical specialist who is an expert in CRPS. The expert will produce a medical report detailing the extent of your condition and how long it is likely to be before you fully recover from the effects of CRPS.

If your symptoms are ongoing, you may need a follow-up medical examination with a further report adding more detail on how long the expert anticipates you will suffer from the symptoms of CRPS.

The information the medical reports contain will provide the basis from which we will calculate how much we believe your general damages claim is worth. Then we will seek to negotiate a settlement with the solicitors acting for the insurers of the person who caused the accident.

If it isn't possible to agree on a settlement with the other side, it will be necessary for a judge at court to decide how much you should receive for general damages. However, most cases get resolved without having to go to court.

We will advise you on what we think your claim could be worth after we have obtained all the necessary evidence to enable us to do this.

General damages may also include compensation to cover future losses you may incur, particularly if you continue to suffer from the effects of CRPS.

Special Damages

As well as compensation for general damages, you may also have financial losses that you have incurred and need to recover. Special damages include any claim for loss of earnings, travel expenses incurred for medical treatment, and other out-of-pocket costs.

This will also cover any future losses that you are likely to incur as a result of the injury, such as future treatment, care needs or home adaptations.

What are the Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The primary symptom is acute pain at the site of the injury. The pain is often described as a burning sensation, whilst other CRPS sufferers say they experience a stabbing or stinging pain. What is beyond doubt in all CRPS cases, the pain brought on due to CRPS is acutely more painful than that caused by the initial injury.

The pain may come in waves or 'flare-ups', meaning that there are periods of acute pain, lasting days, weeks or months, followed by some respite before the pain occurs again. Further symptoms include:

  • Sensitive skin in the area affected by CRPS
  • Flare-ups brought on by stress
  • Intense pain when the skin is touched (allodynia). Catching the skin accidentally can set off acute pain, as can a change in the ambient temperature (hyperalgesia).
  • A feeling that the affected limb does not form part of your body
  • The limb may feel bigger or smaller than the corresponding limb.
  • The skin alternates between being hot and red, or cold and sweaty.
  • Changes to your hair and nails
  • Oedema – limb stiffness
  • Dystonia – tremors and muscle spasms
  • You may have trouble trying to move the affected limb
  • Insomnia
  • Osteoporosis – small areas of fragile bones
  • Skin infections and open wounds
  • Muscle wasting (atrophy)
  • Muscle shortening

Can Complex Regional Pain Syndrome cause psychological problems?

The persistent chronic pain caused by CRPS is highly distressing for the afflicted person, and feelings of helplessness are common. Many CRPS sufferers suffer from depression, and some harbour suicidal thoughts.

How is CRPS diagnosed

Diagnosing CRPS can be difficult because many of its symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses. Methods to diagnose CRPS include:

  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • Nerve conduction studies - to check for any damage to the nerves
  • MRI scans
  • Check up with the doctor to look for signs of swelling or other physical symptoms of CRPS

If the tests confirm a diagnosis of CRPS or are inconclusive, your medical advisers will refer you to a nearby pain clinic for treatment.

How is CRPS treated?

Usually, treatment for complex regional will consist of a mixture of therapy types:

  • Medication in the form of prescribed pain relief
  • Education about the condition and how to self-manage it
  • Physical rehabilitation from occupational therapists and physiotherapists to improve limb function, using exercise, desensitisation, mirror visual feedback and graded motor imagery
  • Psychological support and therapy, including CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to help with the management of pain and counteract the feelings of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts that often accompany CRPS

What are there different types of CRPS?

There are two different types of CRPS. The symptoms of each are similar; however, their causes are different

  • CRPS Type 1 used to be called reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD, and it is triggered when an accident causes a limb injury but doesn't cause damage to the nerves in the limb.
  • CRPS Type 2 results from a nerve injury and, previously, was known as 'causalgia'.

What are the stages of CRPS?

  • Stage 1 CRPS lasts between one and three months.

During Stage 1, the person suffering from CRPS may experience:

  • Skin changes
  • Mottled skin
  • Pain and swollen joints
  • Muscle spasms
  • Rapid hair and nail growth
  • Pain in the affected limb that becomes worse with even the slightest touch
  • Skin temperature changes from hot to cold at will
  • Stage 2 CRPS lasts from three to six months

Common symptoms at this stage include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Hair grows at a slower rate
  • Increasingly severe pain in the affected limb
  • The nails become brittle and break easily
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Stage three, CRPS is where the irreversible effects of CRPS start to appear, and it is necessary to introduce dedicated pain management.

At this stage, there will be:

  • Muscle wasting
  • Constant or nearly constant pain in the affected limb
  • Limited limb movement as muscles and tendons tighten

It is important to stress that not every person who gets CRPS will go through each stage of the illness in a consecutive sequence. Nor is it the case that everyone who gets CRPS will progress through all three stages of the condition.

How do I start a claim for CRPS compensation?

  1. Contact Spencers Solicitors now on 08000 93 00 44.
  2. We'll make an appointment for you to talk to one of our Serious Injury Team. We can talk to you on the phone, arrange to speak with you via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, see you at our offices or even if your circumstances dictate, come to see you at home.
  3. After you have had a chance to discuss your situation with us, if we think your CRPS claim has reasonable prospects of success, you can decide whether you would like to make a personal injury claim. It is your right to choose any solicitor to act for you, but we hope you will decide Spencers Solicitors are the right firm for you.

Can I make a No Win No Fee Complex Regional Pain Syndrome claim?

We usually fund CRPS compensation claims by offering clients the benefit of a conditional fee arrangement, or CFA,

The benefit to our clients of signing a CFA, or No Win No Fee agreement, as it is more commonly known, is that you will have no costs to pay upfront and if your claim is unsuccessful, there will be nothing to pay to anyone.

If you win your case, the other party (usually the insurers of the person who caused your injury) will pay compensation to you and some of your legal fees. You will pay us an agreed success fee from your compensation. The success fee will not exceed 25% of the damages recovered for pain and suffering, and other past losses.

Before you enter into a No Win No Fee agreement with Spencers Solicitors, we will carefully explain how the arrangement works to ensure total clarity and transparency.

We will also advise you about taking out an After the Event insurance policy, which will cover any outstanding expenses such as medical reports or court fees in the unlikely event that your claim is unsuccessful.

Call Spencers Solicitors now on 08000 93 00 94 to start your claim. If you prefer, you can fill in a form on our website here, and after we receive your details, we'll call you back.

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