Signs of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

A nervous system disorder known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD, also known as complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS, often causes chronic pain in individuals who fall victim to it. RSD occurs when nerves in the central or peripheral nervous system become overactive and transmit frequent pain signals to the brain. This condition often results from trauma that causes nerve injuries, but some people develop RSD with no clear explanation.

Symptoms of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Unusually sensitive skin accompanied by burning sensations is often one of the first signs of this condition. Throbbing pain in the legs and arms may be felt as a result of the neuropathy that is often associated with the condition. Certain parts of the body can feel warmer or cooler upon touch than other parts of the body. Some areas of the skin may look red, purple or pale or have a blotchy appearance. Skin texture may also change and become thin and shiny. Some people with RSD report sweating more than usual and experience swelling and stiffness in their affected joints. Mobility impairment can occur in the area of the body where it develops as well. Trembling, jerkiness and other unusual movements in the affected part of the body can also occur. Hair and nail growth may be affected as well.

What are the Treatment Options?

No cure currently exists for reflex sympathetic dystrophy, but certain treatments may help alleviate symptoms considerably. Sympathetic nerve blocks, steroid medications and intrathecal drug pumps that deliver pain medication into the spinal fluid have helped many people lead lives with less pain. Ibuprofen, aspirin and other over-the-counter medications can also minimize pain. Some people have also experienced relief through physical therapy, heat therapy and psychotherapy. Surgery to repair nerve damage may be required in some cases.

At La Hand Surgeon, our board-certified plastic and reconstructive hand surgeons in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles often treat individuals who have been diagnosed with RSD or CRPS. Our team of medical professionals are able to suggest treatments that are personalized to you and gives each patient the best outcome.