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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy


Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a form of chronic pain that can sometimes follow traumatic injuries, especially those to the hands and arms.  It was previously known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) – some physicians, in fact, still use this phrase to describe patients suffering from the disease.  A frequently used pain scale, the McGill Pain Scale, ranks CRPS as 42/50, the most painful form of chronic pain a human can experience.  Patients with CRPS who have more easily diagnosed symptoms are also commonly said to have “causalgia.” Our firm recently resolved a personal injury case for a client whose RSD was caused by an accident for a confidential six figure settlement. 


Not every case of CRPS/RSD will have the same symptoms.  Some of the more common include (1) severe burning pain, (2) temperature changes, (3) unusual or excessive hair growth, (4) increased sweating, (5) hard swelling, (6) tremors, (7) muscle spasms, (8) weakness, (9) sensitivity to touch, heat or other stimuli, (10) muscle wasting, and (11) skin changes, including changes in color, dryness, and shininess.   Left untreated, these symptoms will get worse over time and, in many cases, will become permanent and debilitating.  They may also spread from the initial extremity to others.

It is important for you to treat CRPS early and aggressively.  Treatment options vary based upon patient and symptoms but physical therapy is frequently recommended, along with the use of pharmaceuticals.  If symptoms progress, more serious procedures such as nerve blocks and neural simulators may be necessary. When there are psychological stressors involved, such as litigation, it can be even harder for a person to recover from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  This is one reason why it is important for you to contact an attorney soon after you have been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Your personal injury attorney can help you with eliminating the stress of dealing with workers’ compensation and insurance company adjusters.


RSD can be the result of almost any traumatic injury, no matter the severity.  From a torn ligament in the wrist to a misplaced injection, there is almost no rhyme or reason as to when CRPS will develop.  However, the most common causes of RSD are injuries to the limbs.  The disease was actually first discovered in World War I veterans who had been shot in their hands or arms.  Given the prevalence of hand injuries in the workplace, cases involving CRPS frequently arise in the workers’ compensation context.


CRPS is a complex disease with any number of causes, a multitude of symptoms, and a range of potential outcomes.  Some folks, even if treated aggressively, will still develop long term, permanent disability and/or disfigurement.  If the CRPS resulted from an incident caused by the negligence of some other person or company, you have the right to pursue fair compensation from that person.  Damages recoverable include past and future medical expenses, lost wages and future diminished earning capacity, past and future pain and suffering, and compensation for permanent disability.

Even if a negligent third-party is not involved, if you were injured at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier is responsible for your medical care and other compensation outlined by the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.


For a variety of reasons, cases involving CRPS / RSD are sometimes fought “tooth and nail” by the insurance companies and workers’ compensation carriers.  When that happens, you need an attorney who is willing to file suit and who understands Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and its impact on your life.

The personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Maginnis Law can help you with your case, whether it involves a lawsuit against a negligent third-party or a workers’ compensation claim involving Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Syndrome.  Our firm offers free consultations.  For clients with CRPS / RSD, we will always have available at least two attorneys to meet with you to help evaluate your case and your options.  Like most personal injury firms, we offer our clients contingency fee arrangements, meaning that you pay no attorneys’ fees unless and until we resolve your case.

To discuss your injuries and claim, contact our firm at 919.526.0450 or send us an email at  You may also use our contact page.  Please note that our firm handles CRPS / RSD cases throughout all of North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Wilmington, Asheville, and Fayetteville.

Merger Announcement

We are pleased to announce that Charles G. Monnett III & Associates of Charlotte and Britton Law of Fayetteville are now part of Maginnis Howard. For more information on the merger, see this post. For more information on each location, visit the Our Firm tab in the navigation menu.

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