"Although CRPS is often a challenging condition to treat, I have seen
full recovery with CRPS of the knee, arm, hand, and neck. Historically,
the individuals who experienced complete relief in my care had not
responded to other therapies for between 8 and 16 months.
Treatment of the foot and ankle has been less responsive for reasons
which are not yet clear, but I'm hopeful that treatment strategy for
those patients can be continually improved."
Dr. Eric Windsor, D.Ac.
We have not seen any side-effects from our treatment. However, we have
observed increased difficulty in treating CRPS in several scenarios
related to other medical conditions and treatments. We evaluate the
presence of these situations during the pre-qualification phase which is
typically conducted by phone. We do this in order to ensure the highest
likelihood of patient satisfaction.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Modern research has shown that acupuncture can help the body to release its own naturally occurring pain-relief
chemicals, called endogenous endorphins or endogenous opioids.
Acupuncture also helps the body to reduce certain chemicals involved in
inflammation. According to traditional acupuncture theories, pain can be
caused by a blockage in the body's vital energy. Acupuncture provides
relief from pain by clearing blockages and promoting the smooth flow of
The effects of acupuncture on endorphins and anti-inflammatory chemicals
help to explain the immediate pain-relief that people experience.
However, these effects are not enough to fully explain the long-term
benefits that patients often receive from acupuncture treatment. Many
scientific questions still remain about the way acupuncture works.
Some of our patients with CRPS have experienced long-term and apparently permanent relief.
Of course, each individual's case is different, and some cases require
more frequent sessions over a longer period of time. Within 3 or 4
sessions, it is typically very clear to the patient whether the treatment is
beginning to help. You are more likely to get the best results from acupuncture by visiting
a practitioner who has some years of experience treating your condition
successfully with acupuncture.
Most of our patients with CRPS have received this diagnosis from another
medical provider. Early treatment tends to produce a better outcome for
How Does Acupuncture Compare with Alternative Medical Treatments?
Alternatives to acupuncture include a range of medications which may be
prescribed for pain and inflammation. Strangely, Wikipedia even lists
amputation as a
possible treatment for CRPS, although they acknowledged that even this
drastic approach is only
effective in reducing pain around 50% of the time. Therefore we highly
recommend our own treatment before going down that approach. At our
clinic we use extremely safe methods to reduce pain and promote healing,
and many of our patients with this condition have experienced
significant improvements in function and reduction of pain.
Medications used to treat CRPS may include drugs called NSAIDs, NMDA
receptor antagonists, corticosteroids, opioids, and neuroleptics. Each
of these are described below along with some of their known side
If you are taking prescription medications,
be sure to talk to your
doctor before making any changes. Some medications need to be reduced
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are over-the-counter
medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. In many cases of
CRPS, NSAIDs cannot fully control the pain level. Most people can take
NSAIDs without side-effects for under a week, but significant
side-effects are increasingly likely when they are taken for more than a
week at a time.
Side effects of NSAIDs can include stomach bleeding, allergic reactions, kidney
problems, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart problems. Among
people taking NSAIDS for more than 2 months, 1 person in 1200 has a
side-effect from NSAIDs causing death. Every year over 100,000 people
are hospitalized in the United States due to the side effects of NSAIDs,
and 16,500 deaths are caused by NSAIDs in the United States.
Gabapentin (neurontin), pregabilin, nortriptyline, duloxetine, and
amitryptaline are called neuroleptics, and these may also be prescribed
for CRPS. Many people take these medications for years without serious
side effects. Common side-effects include dizziness, and dry mouth. Rare
and serious side-effects of these medications include intestinal
damage, and increased risk of suicide.
Neurontin and amitryptaline can also cause a life-threatening reaction
in approximately 0.2-0.5 % of patients (between 2 and 5 out of every
1000 patients) called neuroleptic malignant syndrome
This syndrome begins with symptoms of fever, muscle stiffness, severe
confusion, sweating, and fast/irregular heartbeat, and is fatal in
around 10% of cases. If the reaction is not fatal, it can cause
temporary or permanent memory damage. Males under age 40 are at the
highest risk of developing this condition in response to neurontin and
Another class of drugs used for CRPS is opioid drugs. For patients with
CRPS, in our observation, the use of opioids may lead to addiction
rather than to pain relief. This class of drugs includes
oxycontin, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and vicodin. Common
side-effects include sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting,
constipation, physical dependence (addiction), tolerance, and
Opioid medications caused 475,000 emergency room visits in 2009, and
caused at least 16,000 deaths in 2012 (more deaths than heroin and
cocaine combined). Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses
are caused by these opioid pain relievers. In the United States, there
has been a 300% increase in opioid prescriptions since 1999. These U.S.
death statistics due to opioid pain relievers are mentioned at the CDC website
Drugs known as NMDA receptor antagonists may also be used to treat CRPS.
These include dextromethorphan and ketamine. Ketamine is a dissociative
anesthetic and barbiturate similar in action to the illegal drug PCP.
Side-effects of ketamine include dream-like feeling, double vision,
jerky muscle movements, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, loss of
appetite, and sleep problems (insomnia).
Especially in the early stages of CRPS, your doctor may recommend
corticosteroids such as prednisone and methylprednisone. These can help
decrease the swelling and allow the tissue to heal. Frequent use of
corticosteroids can cause significant short-term and long-term side
effects, such as bone loss, skin atrophy, tendon rupture, weight gain,
acne, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar in diabetics, and
reduced ability to fight infections. Frequent use of cortisone can cause
cataracts and in some cases, even the death of bone tissue in the large
joints (avascular necrosis). Dr. Windsor treats some of the
side-effects of prednisone, including avascular necrosis, tendon issues,
and blood sugar issues.
Maryland Holistics provides specialized
acupuncture therapies which can often reduce CRPS symptoms significantly
within 8-12 sessions.
In the hands of an experienced practitioner, acupuncture may be able
provide excellent relief for CRPS within around 8-12 sessions, and
without any of the side-effects which are mentioned above. We also offer
an optional, accelerated treatment schedule, which may be of interest
to patients outside of the Baltimore-Washington area.
Acupuncture helps the body's natural healing response to become
activated, and patients often feel more well-rested and relaxed after
sessions. Acupuncture has also been shown to help regulate the immune
system, improve blood sugar control, and reduce blood pressure in people
with hypertension. In the Maryland area, most health insurance
companies recognize the value of acupuncture for pain-relief and may
cover acupuncture for this purpose.
You May be Interested In:
Contact Our Office
Conditions A-Z (list and web links)
Before Your Visit
Information for Physicians
About Dr. Eric Windsor
Biochemical Research on Acupuncture
How We Work with Lab Tests and Imaging
About Maryland Holistics
Maryland Holistics LLC is the private practice of Dr. Eric Windsor, D.Ac., L.Ac.
Our serene, professional office is located in Ellicott City, MD.
Maryland Holistics has provided care to thousands of satisfied customers
since opening in 2009. Dr. Windsor is a preferred provider in the
CareFirst, Blue Cross Blue Shield, GEHA, and United Healthcare networks.
3525 Ellicott Mills Dr., Ste E
Ellicott City, MD 21043