One of the questions we get asked most often is “does CRPS spread?”
Yes, in our experience (after having approximately 800 CRPS patients under care to date) more often than not, CRPS will spread to other body parts. It could spread from one leg to the other (mirror imagining), it could spread from lower body to upper body, or it could spread to full body. It can spread to internal organs as well. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of misunderstandings in the allopathic community about CRPS spreading. Sadly, it is a fact that it can and does spread.
The second question we often get is “why does CRPS spread?”
To answer that question, you have to understand that if you have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in your leg, or your arm, or your foot, it is not a problem with your actual leg, arm, or foot. It is a problem with the central nervous system. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have visible changes to the area, such as abnormal hair growth, skin discoloration, and localized pain. Yes, there is damage to the local tissue, but there is a much bigger, global problem, and that is the problem in the central nervous system.
We recommend looking into a term called encephalomyelitis. We believe that in the future, a lot of research surrounding CRPS is going to move in this direction. One thing we have found is that a majority of our patients suffer from a chronic viral and/or bacterial infection, which then affects the vagus nerve, and subsequently affects the immune and inflammation response in the body.
There is a gray world where the nervous system and the immune system overlap. In that world, you have cells called glial cells. These cells work both for the immune system and the nervous system, and they are also responsible for the release of cytokines. The cytokines can cross the blood brain barrier and affect the brain, and they can also affect the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Once that happens, it’s like a forest fire that feeds itself, and then the pain response becomes pathological.
It is our belief that this is why CRPS spreads, and this is why we target the central nervous system when treating CRPS patients.