Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

What is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a condition of the autonomic nervous system, where it starts malfunctioning. Usually caused by injury, RSD can lead to intense pain even if the initial trauma which caused it was not heavy.

What are the Symptoms of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?

RSD may cause tremors and muscle spasms in the affected area. This means that even the slightest touch causes a feeling of discomfort. The patient may also experience atrophy, light and noise sensitivity, issues with digestion, loss of bladder control, and irregular heartbeat.


What Causes RSD?

The most common cause of RSD is injury or trauma. The injury could be the result of a fall, or an accident. The issue with RSD is even the slightest injury can cause it. For instance, a needle prick can lead to RSD in the area where the pin pricked.

How is RSD Diagnosed?

The doctor performs a complex and complete medical exam, including a review of your medical history. This is followed by a physical exam where the doctor checks for symptoms. The doctor may ask for imaging tests to diagnose the condition, including CAT scans and X-rays. However, these images don’t prove the patient is suffering from RSD. They are used mainly for eliminating other causes.

The test considered most reliable for diagnosing RDS is infrared imaging. It is a simple procedure, which doesn’t cause the patient any added discomfort or pain.


How is RSD Treated?

There are a range of treatments available for RSD. Initially, the doctor may recommend physical therapy with a range of motion and joint activity exercises to help patients become more active and prevent the disease from worsening. However, other treatment options include:

  • Treatment via medications that include antidepressants, blood pressure medications, steroids, anti-inflammatories, and narcotic pain medications.
  • Patients may also be required to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy in order to familiarize themselves for living with chronic pain.
  • Stellate Ganglion Nerve Blocks and Lumbar Sympathetic Nerve Block may prevent the RSD from spreading and help reduce pain in order to allow patients to get more function.
  • Intrathecal drug pump may be used to provide patients with pain relief. This drug pump infuses medications directly around the spinal cord.
  • Spinal Cord Simulator treatment may also be suggested in which pain signals are converted into tingling sensations. This may not heal the pain, but it can help mask it.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Treatment in Chicago

Take the first step towards a pain-free life by scheduling your appointment with Premier Pain & Spine today!