Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (CRPS / RSD)

CRPS / RSD causes, signs, characteristics & diagnosis

What is CRPS / RSD?

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy disorder (or CPRS / RSD) usually takes place following numerous types of physical injury. Though the symptoms of this problem can usually occur slowly, they could have a profound effect on your individual health and wellness and also the discomfort you experience in your daily life.

RSD, sometimes referred to as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), commonly results from an issue that takes place in the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls blood flow in a patient’s hands, arms and legs and helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

When CRPS / RSD occurs, the nerves get mixed signals and can become overactive. This activity can cause a person to experience burning pain, swelling as well as a feeling of warmth in the damaged arm or leg. Other long-term handicaps include stiffness of the skin and tightening of the joints making use of the injured part of the arm extremely painful and difficult.

CRPS / RSD syndrome is really a compilation of symptoms. A lot of these symptoms can be confused with other disorders.  The hallmark feature of RSD / CRPS is called allodynia, when a sensation like touching, airflow, or temperature on the skin of affected limb causes severe pain

Although the mean age of diagnosis is 42, it can strike at any age. Children as young as 2 years old have been found to have it.  The risk factors for developing CRPS / RSD after an injury are still under study but female gender, older age, certain fracture types, and psychological stressors are suspected contributors.

What Causes RSD?

Scientists supply several theories to the cause of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Several of these consist of physical trauma, surgical treatment, heart disease, human brain conditions, strokes, roof shingles, bust cancer, anti-tuberculosis medicines and barbiturates.

What Are the Signs of RSD?

One of the most usual signs and symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome is a serious pain. This discomfort usually turns up as a burning feeling. There is also tenderness and swelling of the hands, legs, arms as well as feet. Various other signs and symptoms consist of sweating, flushing and also a sensation of unusual warmth or coolness in addition to modifications in the skin.

RSD signs and symptoms of might start swiftly or more slowly. Additionally, not all of these signs and symptoms happen to everyone. In some cases, the pain is only in one arm or leg. Around 50% of individuals will certainly have symptoms in their arms or legs.

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    Characteristics of RSD

    • Severe cases last for 3 to 6 months. Signs include modest discomfort as well as inflammation paired with flushing, burning as well as sweating.
    • Dystrophic instances last for about the same length of time as severe situations but there are additional signs. The skin starts to change, becoming too thick and also glossy. Furthermore, the afflicted limb begins to decrease its swelling as well as purging appearance. The discomfort, unfortunately, continues.
    • The atrophic stage consists of loss of activity as well as function in the affected arm or leg. The skin’s fatty levels become thinner. Weakening of bones typically takes place at this phase.

    Medical Diagnosis of RSD

    Medical diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy requires a range of tools. These include blood tests, x-rays and bone scanning.

    Medical professionals still dispute on just what exactly creates RSD, there have been particular instances where the problem is typical. A laceration that is sustained following an electric motor vehicle accident can leave a specific with RSD. If an accident puts stress on a nerve, RSD may result. This problem could really originate from any sort of crash so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms early to look for medical treatment.


    While there is no cure for RSD, with proper treatment many individuals can experience relief from RSD symptoms. Typical treatments for RSD include physical therapy, medications, nerve blocking injections, electrodes or even surgery.

    Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

    Meet Your Injury Specialist:

    Jeffrey D. Scott, M.D.

    Dr. Scott understands the physical and psychological barriers that chronic pain conditions create for the patient and their families. His definition of improvement is functional improvement. Maximizing function includes not only pain control but also patient education, communication and participation. With an individualized treatment plan, the impact of chronic pain on a patient’s quality of life can be minimized.

    • B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, 1993
    • MD, Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine, 1997
    • Residency, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 2001
    • Board Certification Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 2002
    • Certified Independent Medical Examiner, 2010
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