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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Treatment in New York

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Treatment in New York

Do you have complex regional pain syndrome but aren’t sure where you should seek CRPS treatment? As the top neurologist in NYC, Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. can provide expert care for your CRPS. Here they provide all the information you need to understand your condition, including potential symptoms and what you can expect from treatment.

What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome is a condition where you experience chronic and disproportionate pain after an injury or medical trauma. While the condition can affect various body parts, it most commonly occurs in your extremities like your arm, leg, hand, or foot.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the disease remains rare, with roughly 200,000 cases each year. Medical professionals characterize CRPS into one of two types:

  • Type 1: Also known as sympathetic dystrophy, type-1 CRPS occurs without any known nervous system injury.
  • Type 2: Called causalgia, type-2 CRPS results from specific nerve damage.

You can further separate the condition into acute or chronic, which requires symptoms for at least six months. Most instances of CRPS resolve with treatment.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Causes

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome most often arises from damage to peripheral or central nervous systems, though type 1 usually occurs after conditions that don’t directly affect your nerves. Doctors don’t yet have enough information to know the exact cause of CRPS, but the syndrome occurs most often after the following events:

  • Physical injury: If you broke a limb, experienced a car crash, or underwent surgery, you have an increased chance of developing CRPS in the associated limb. Even if the injury didn’t directly damage the nerves, the inflammation, bleeding, or infection from it can create the sensation of pain. 
  • Stroke or heart attack: If a heart attack or stroke damages the blood vessels or brain, the lack of oxygen to your nerves can create malfunctions and chronic pain. 
  • Infections and autoimmune disorders: Autoimmune diseases and infections like Lyme disease, shingles, and rheumatoid arthritis can leave a lasting effect on the nerves. Chronic inflammation can trigger CRPS.
  • Idiopathic: An idiopathic condition is one without a known trigger or cause. In this case, you may develop CRPS from genetics, hormones, or psychological risk factors. 

Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

CRPS treatment can greatly reduce the prevalence of your symptoms. Doctors categorize symptoms of CRPS into three different stages based on the syndrome’s progression. 

Stage One

Stanford Medicine says this initial stage of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome usually lasts an average of one to three months. While CRPS manifests differently in each person, you’ll likely experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Severe muscle aches that feel like burning and worsen with even a slight touch or gentle breeze
  • Skin temperature fluctuates between hot and cold more frequently
  • Severe joint pain or muscle spasms
  • Rapidly growing hair and nails
  • Changes in skin color, texture, or appearance, such as becoming red, purple, shiny, or thin
  • Profuse sweating, even in cool temperatures

Stage Two

Stage two can last up to six months, during which point your existing symptoms grow in severity. You may feel more extreme or frequent pain, your nails and hair may become more brittle (though their growth slows), and you’ll experience weaker and stiffer joints. 

Stage Three

With treatment, most people never reach stage three. At this point, your muscles and tendons start atrophying and you may lose the ability to move them. This damage can become permanent without immediate treatment.

Diagnosing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

How can your doctor diagnose CRPS? The first step consists of a physical examination and a detailed medical history. They’ll ask you questions about the severity of your pain, how long you’ve experienced it, and if you can pinpoint any illness or injury that may have triggered the condition.

If they believe you’re experiencing CRPS, they can run several tests to verify you have the syndrome and assess its severity.

Bone Scan

During a bone scan, the doctor injects a small amount of radioactive dye into your veins and then uses a special camera to detect it. Cells and structures in the process of changing, such as atrophying muscles, absorb more of the dye, which allows your doctor to locate problematic areas. Doctors commonly use this test to identify cancer, as well.

Though the test requires an injection, healthcare professionals categorize it as minimally invasive. It uses safe levels of radioactive substances comparable to an X-ray. Bone scans usually take between one and three hours and produce results immediately.

Sweat Test

Also known as a quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test, this measures your nerve’s ability to produce sweat. The QSART uses electrical stimulation called iontophoresis to measure your sweat production. If your doctor detects uneven levels of production around your body, it can indicate CRPS.

The process produces only minor discomfort, akin to experiencing a shock from a 9-volt battery, and usually takes around 45 minutes.


An X-ray works best in diagnosing the later stages of CRPS. It can detect changes in the minerals in your bone which often occurs from late-stage CRPS.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Because it can detect changes in soft tissue like muscles, an MRI can detect even the early stages of CRPS. Doctors classify an MRI as a non-invasive treatment, and the procedure usually takes between 15 and 90 minutes.

Treatment for CRPS

Treatment for CRPS

You should seek treatment for CRPS immediately to prevent the condition from progressing or causing permanent damage. Depending on the cause and severity of your CRPS, your doctor may choose one of the following CRPS treatment options.


Your doctor may prescribe any of the following medications to help you manage your pain or the underlying cause of your CRPS:

  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter medications like NSAIDs offer the first line of defense against minor pain. For more severe cases, your doctor may resort to opioid medications.
  • Antidepressants and anticonvulsants: In some people where nerve damage causes pain, these medications can help manage it.
  • Corticosteroids: Steroids can reduce inflammation and mitigate joint weakness, helping you maintain your mobility.
  • Bone-loss mitigation: If you’re at risk of or experience a loss of bone mass, your doctor can help with certain medications.
  • Nerve blockers: Some people respond well to an injection of anesthetic into the nerve’s pain fibers, but this provides relief for only a couple of weeks.
  • Blood pressure medication: You may experience a reduction in your pain if you take medications that reduce blood pressure.


Your doctor can use a variety of therapies to treat your CRPS rather than just manage the pain. The most effective and common treatment options include:

  • Applying heat to the affected can offer temporary pain relief, especially if your skin feels too cold.
  • Physical therapy or occupational therapy uses gentle and purposeful exercises and stretches to strengthen your muscles and increase mobility. This treatment works best in the early stages of CRPS.
  • A technique called mirror therapy can trick your body into believing you can move your affected limb more easily. Researchers must conduct more studies to determine this treatment’s effectiveness.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation applies electrical impulses to your nerve endings to block your nerve’s ability to detect pain.
  • Biofeedback techniques like mindfulness can help you more consistently relax your body and reduce stiffness, inflammation, and CRPS triggers.
  • Spinal cord stimulation uses small electrodes inserted along your spine to deliver electrical impulses that can block pain.
  • While research doesn’t provide conclusive results about acupuncture’s effectiveness, many people experience increased blood flow and reduced pain after the treatment.

Find Quality CRPS Treatment Centers in New York

If you’re looking for compassionate and reliable CRPS treatment, consider visiting Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. From running an EMG test to providing individualized treatment plans, our experienced pain management specialists and neurologists help you along every step of your recovery. 

Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available. To book an appointment, call (347) 602-9530

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about complex regional pain syndrome and its treatment? Here are the answers to the most common questions about the condition.

Is CRPS a Life-Long Condition?

CRPS is not a life-long condition for most people. CRPS usually resolves with treatment, and one meta-analysis by the International Association for the Study of Pain showed that only 20% of people continue experiencing pain after a year of treatment. However, in rare cases, it can persist for years or even the rest of your life.

How Long Can People Live With CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome doesn’t directly affect your life expectancy. However, in cases where treatment doesn’t cure the condition, it can prevent you from engaging in activities that help maintain your overall health.

How Do You Diagnose Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

You diagnose CRPS by discussing your symptoms and medical history with CRPS treatment centers. They may perform additional tests, such as a bone scan, to determine the condition’s severity and devise the right CRPS treatment plan.