What is the Best Supplement For Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS (formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome), is a very painful condition of the feet, legs, hands, or arms, which usually occurs after some kind of trauma to the area (fracture or surgery). Common symptoms include diffuse pain and edema, a difference in skin temperature, and limited active range of motion.

It’s also one of the best examples in this book of how generalizing supplements—how they’re all bad or all good—is rarely effective. For years I’ve heard that vitamin C doesn’t treat anything; it’s worthless and no one needs it. However, there’s a clear indication that it can help with prevention, and perhaps even treatment, of CRPS. So throw your vitamin C prejudice out the window!

What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg. CRPS typically develops after an injury, a surgery, a stroke or a heart attack. The pain is out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury.

CRPS is uncommon, and its cause isn’t clearly understood. Treatment is most effective when started early. In such cases, improvement and even remission are possible.

What is the Best Supplement For Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Vitamin C

Taking 500 milligrams of C (plain ascorbic acid) on the day of a fracture and for 50 days thereafter is one of the best ways to prevent CRPS; it appears to reduce the risk by more than 80 percent. Higher doses of vitamin C (1,500 milligrams per day) have not worked better than 500 milligrams in terms of wrist fractures. Now, whether vitamin C can be helpful in the treatment of this condition is still unknown.

Although all of the initial research with vitamin C and CRPS was after a wrist fracture, new studies are looking at other sites of the body. A small study of individuals having foot and ankle surgery demonstrated that 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C every morning beginning on the first day after surgery and continuing for 45 days may also reduce CRPS post-surgery. (The researchers in this study now recommend 500 milligrams of vitamin C because 1,000 milligrams could increase oxalate levels in the body and the risk of kidney stones in certain people. Plus, 1,000 milligrams per day doesn’t appear to work any better than 500 milligrams anyhow!)

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