Reno Pain


Best CRPS Doctors in Reno, Sparks and Carson City, Nevada.


While all conditions that lead to pain are unwelcome, at least some conditions can be quickly pinpointed and easily treated. This is not the case with chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS). This neurological condition occurs without a clear reason, is difficult to find the exact cause, and can lead to both excruciating pain symptoms as well as sensory changes. While a difficult condition to treat, the Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in the Reno, Sparks and Carson City areas are skilled in all neurologic conditions, including CRPS, and can successfully provide their patients with much needed answers and relief. 


What is Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome?

CRPS is a chronic pain and sensory condition that has been found to be one of the most painful chronic pain conditions, even worse than childbirth or amputation. It is also known as Sudeck’s atrophy, causalgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RDS), shoulder-hand syndrome, post-traumatic dystrophy, and reflex neurovascular dystrophy. CRPS causes pain, changes in skin color and other symptoms in a certain part of the body, most often in the extremities, including the arm, hand, leg or foot. 


This condition occurs as a result of a dysfunction in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) or peripheral nervous system (relays information from the central nervous system to the organs, arms, legs, fingers and toes. This abnormal function of signals sent between the systems, usually as a result of nerve damage, causes an overreaction of pain signals that the nervous system can’t shut off and the brain can help but to receive. 


What Causes CRPS:

Complex regional pain syndrome is believed to be caused by nerve damage and resulting abnormal nerve responses. There are two subtypes of chronic regional pain syndrome, which are: 


  • Type I: CRPS that occurs without nerve damage, usually from an illness or injury
  • Type II: CRPS that occurs after known nerve damage


CRPS is most commonly a result of a traumatic injury to an arm or a leg, such as a car accident, surgery, fracture, infection, etc. This syndrome can either be acute (short term) or chronic (long term). It’s important to seek medical help if you believe you are suffering from chronic regional pain syndrome because if the condition is not treated, the symptoms can be irreversible. 


Chronic regional pain syndrome is a very rare, and ultimately incurable, condition. Many researchers believe that emotional distress is responsible for the severity of CRPS symptoms. While anyone can experience CRPS, women are most likely to suffer when compared to men. Patients who experience chronic regional pain syndrome are generally in the 40- to 60-year-old age bracket. 


What are the Most Common CRPS Symptoms?

While the most common symptom of chronic regional pain syndrome is pain, additional symptoms a person could experience include: 


  • Changes in skin color, texture and temperature
  • Swelling 
  • Decreased function and mobility
  • Rapid or no hair and nail growth
  • Muscular spasms
  • Increased sensitivity to cold or pressure
  • Muscular atrophy


Two very common symptoms of CRPS are allodynia and hyperalgesia, which are neurological responses. Allodynia is when pain is felt from something that should not normally cause pain, such as a handshake. Hyperalgesia is experienced as an extreme pain reaction to something that is minor, such a paper cut but feels like a deep wound. These conditions both result from the mixup of signals between the nervous systems that causes an abnormal nerve response that causes a heightened pain response. 


How is Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome Treated?

Chronic regional pain syndrome is a very difficult condition to both diagnose and treat. This is why it’s imperative to seek help from a medical professional as soon as symptoms are felt so that they can start treatment to provide relief and manage the symptoms. 


To obtain an accurate diagnosis, your pain management specialist will perform a physical exam, review your medical history, as well as learn about your symptoms and when they began. It’s important to disclose if you suffered any recent injuries or surgeries. They might also utilize imaging devices, such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or bone scan, to get a more clear picture of what could be causing your symptoms. 


Once CRPS has been diagnosed, your provider will recommend any or a few of the below treatment options, with the goal to help you find pain relief now as well as manage your symptoms so you experience fewer symptoms in the future. 


  • Therapy: both physical therapy and occupational therapy can help to improve functionality, range of motion and mobility of the affected joint, as well as help a person to more efficiently function day to day. Psychotherapy can also help to reduce anxiety, depression and stress, which has shown to increase pain. 
  • Biofeedback: learning how to recognize and control the perception of pain can help a person to manage their pain without utilizing any drugs or invasive treatment
  • Medications: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and membrane-stabilizing drugs are helpful for providing short-term pain relief, which helps a person to more comfortably utilize other methods, such as physical therapy
  • Complementary medicine: acupuncture and massages can help to reduce pain, reduce stress and promote relaxation
  • Support groups: it is challenging to live with CRPS, especially if you feel like you are dealing with your symptoms alone. Support groups offer patients the opportunity to discuss their symptoms and life issues with others who are experiencing the same thing, as well as learn about additional ways that others have found helpful for coping with the condition. 
  • Sympathetic nerve blocks: blocking particular nerves in the sympathetic nervous system keep the brain from receiving the abnormal pain sensations, thereby reducing feelings of pain. Both a stellate ganglion block and brachial plexus nerve block are helpful for upper extremity pain, and a lumbar sympathetic nerve block is helpful for lower extremity pain. 
  • Infusion techniques: inserting a small catheter through a needle into the epidural space or directly next to damaged nerves allows for the continued delivery of medication that helps to provide long-term pain relief
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS): dubbed the “pacemaker for pain,” spinal cord stimulation is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves electrodes placed in the epidural space close to the spinal cord. The electrodes deliver a mild electrical current to disrupt pain signals from reaching the brain, allowing the patient to instead simply feel a tingling sensation
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation: this minimally-invasive method involves placing tiny electrodes close to the affected nerves with the goal to disrupt pain sensations from reaching the brain


If you believe you are suffering with chronic regional pain syndrome symptoms, or have been diagnosed with CRPS and would like treatment options, the Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists in the Reno, Sparks and Carson City areas can help. Our team knows just how debilitating the condition can be to a person’s body and life, and are dedicated to providing much needed relief and support. Please schedule an appointment today.

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