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CRPS Mirror Therapy

A popular type of rehabilitation for the treatment of CRPS.

In the last decade, many ways have been studied to get rid of the pain in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. By being the dominant symptom, pain is the first thing that must be put under control for the patient to be functional and begin the correct therapy path. Unfortunately, the therapy of choice in the treatment of CRPS mostly involves the pain management drugs that, quite often, come with severe side effects. However, a correct multidisciplinary approach can easily lead to remission and, even in longer-lasting and debilitating situations, it can bring tremendous improvements. In our previous articles, we have briefly explored the pharmaceutical side of a correct therapy path for this condition but, now, we think it is useful to take a deeper look into the numerous rehabilitative options out there.

Mirror Therapy, for example, is a type of rehabilitation therapy, invented and developed by Dr. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran in 1992. It was originally thought as a therapy for the Phantom Limb Syndrome and, recently, it has been adopted for the treatment of conditions like CRPS. This approach gives a priority to the visual feedback through the mirror neuron system. Although no official research results in a final assessment on the effectiveness of this option, many have had real improvements from it. Of course, Mirror Therapy is not a cure for CRPS, but it can be extremely useful as a side treatment.

Mirror Therapy aims to improve the function of the affected body part and, when correctly applied, it can help for months after. This option falls in the wider method known as Graded Motor Imagery (GMI) which treats movement problems by exercising the brain in monitored and gradual steps.

It has been accepted in the treatment of neuropathic pain and the associated disorders so, as we can see, it treats a very specific, and nevertheless important, part of CRPS. In the late 2000s, with the development of technology, Mirror Therapy has evolved with the use of a VR with promising results.

A patient, however, should be warned: although this option appears to be quite simple, it is vital to find a physician who knows every aspect of this therapy. Mirror Therapy is getting to be very popular because it doesn’t involve the use of pain management drugs and it comes with no side effects. Unfortunately, this means that there are a lot of impostors out there: a patient should always be sure of the qualifications of who is in front of him or her.

Nevertheless, Mirror Therapy represents a valid choice in the treatment of CRPS and it is a good starting point for people already in the atrophic phase. The most important thing for a patient affected by this condition is not to stop being functional in everyday activities: it will allow to maintain the pain at a manageable level and treat other aspects of the condition. Neridronate infusions are the pharmaceutical treatment of choice and, sided by a correct and complete rehabilitation program, the patient will be able to forget long, expensive and debilitating pain management treatments, if not occasionally for immediate relief.