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Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), also referred to as Type 1 CRPS or CRPS-I, is a condition which is triggered by tissue injury where there is no underlying nerve injury. The cause of RSD is still unknown, but it is thought to be a malfunctioning of the sympathetic nervous system. Though, some people question this assessment. Since RSD most often follows trauma to the extremities (arms, legs, hands, and feet), some conditions known to trigger RSD are sprains, fractures, surgery, damage to blood vessels or nerves, and certain brain injuries. Doctors may use x-rays and MRIs to try to diagnose RSD, but typically it’s found when it meets certain conditions or when everything else is cancelled out.

Symptoms of RSD usually include:

  • burning pain
  • increased sensitivity to touch
  • changes in skin temperature
  • excessive sweating
  • changes in skin color and/or texture
  • changes in nail and hair growth patterns
  • swelling and stiffness in affected joint
  • motor disability, with decreased ability to move affected body part

As of yet, we still have no cure for RSD, although the symptoms may be treated. It is especially treatable if RSD is diagnosed early. Treatment typically consists of physical therapy and prescribed medications. In severe cases, surgery may help reduce the symptoms.

South Lake Pain Institute is currently conducting clinical trials on RSD in an attempt to discover a cure, or in the least to find more effective treatment. If you or someone you know is suffering from this unfortunate condition, and you/they would like to help us in our search, please visit our Clinical Research page and fill out the provided form. If you have any questions about RSD or CRPS, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any inquiries.

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