Sympathetic dystrophy

Posted June, 2008

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy syndrome (RSD) is sometimes called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). No matter which name we use, this condition is a chronic neurological syndrome characterized by the patient suffering most or all of the symptoms listed below.

These may be present at varying intensities for different people who've been diagnosed with the condition. To be considered to have RSD / CRPS, you should be experiencing the following problems:

XBurning Pain

XExcessive sweating

XExtreme sensitivity to touch

XPathological changes in bone and skin

XSwelling of the afflicted area

Doctors classify two "types" of this ailment, and of course many degrees of pain and aggravated sensitivity to contact with the afflicted skin may occur within either type.

XCRPS Type I (also referred to as RSD) are cases in which the cause of the nerve injury cannot be easily identified.

XCRPS Type II (also called Causalgia) are cases in which a distinct "major" nerve injury has occurred as a result of some trauma the patient has experienced.

For poorly-understood reasons, the injury that triggered this condition doesn't heal as it should. CRPS doesn't always appear to happen only as a result of what most people would call severe injuries, either. It can appear after what should've been very minor traumas. When RSD does occur after a triggering injury, the sympathetic nervous system seems to function abnormally. It goes into a high state of aggravation that's distinctly "out of proportion" to the normal and expected behavior.

The most important thing is to remember here is that this condition may respond favorably to well-established pain management techniques. Typically these are specific nerve blocks and readily available medications, both of which can decrease the perceived level of RSD pain and sensitivity. There's an additional benefit in that breaking the neurological "feedback loop" of RSD by applying nerve blocks often helps tissue damaged by the disease heal more quickly. It's important to act quickly when RSD appears, before it degenerates into the second and more destructive phase of the ailment.

If you're just now starting to experience some of the symptoms of RSD, don't delay in arranging a consultation. Should you suffer from RSD—no matter at which stage—don't despair. We may well be able to significantly improve the quality of your life. Call us to arrange a consultation.