What’s Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?

What’s Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?

The pain in your hands and feet won’t stop. It can happen at any time and severity; you just know it’s there, a constant presence overshadowing daily life and making it hard to fulfill responsibilities or do the things you enjoy. You may be experiencing reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

What is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome?

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS) and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) are two mutual names for pain conditions that happen when the sympathetic nervous system goes bad or stops working the way it should.

It’s also been called causalgia, post-traumatic dystrophy, shoulder hands syndrome, Sudeck’s atrophy, and reflex neurovascular dystrophy. RSDS refers to a CRPS Type 1 diagnosis, primarily affecting someone’s lower extremities (arms, legs, hands, or feet) with pronounced bone and skin changes.

The Facts About Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome 

RSDS is an older term to describe complex regional pain syndrome type 1. If you experience pain symptoms, knowing as much about your condition as possible can help you and your healthcare provider create an effective treatment plan. Here’s what to know about reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome and CRPS.

RSDS is caused by a tissue injury without evidence of illness or nerve injury. It happens to about 90% of people who report symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome.

As a type of chronic pain, it’s essential to understand that symptoms of RSDS could be mild or extreme and don’t go away as you hoped following an injury or illness. You may know you have it or another pain condition if any of the following are true:

  • Your lower extremities experience unceasing burning or throbbing pain.
  • You notice you have a heightened sensitivity to being touched or exposed to cold temperatures. As a result, your skin temperature fluctuates between cold and sweaty.
  • There’s swelling in your arms, hands, legs, or feet.
  • You notice changes in skin color, as hues range from white and mottled to red or blue.
  • Your skin texture has changed, and you’ve noticed that it’s become tender, thin, or gleaming on the affected limb.
  • Variations in hair and nail growth.
  • You have joint damage, stiffness, and swelling.
  • You notice your muscles are weak from not being used (atrophy), and you have muscle spasms and tremors.
  • Pain also means you can’t move your arms, hands, legs, or feet as you once could.

Who Gets RSDS Or CRPS?

According to studies, the conditions affect only a few hundred thousand people in the United States annually, and more women than men and people of European descent.

Are There Coping Strategies To Know About?

Like other medical problems, RSDS and CRPS can be treated in a multitude of ways. Some people choose store-bought pain relievers, diet and lifestyle changes, meditation, and various alternate forms of treatment. If you experience pain from either, it’s critical to know potential coping strategies.

  • You’re not in the battle alone, so build a team strategy. There is strength in numbers, which means being open to collaborating with a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals who can help. This usually includes your primary medical professional, a physical or occupational therapist, a pain management specialist, and others. You should also consider family and friends as part of your support team.
  • Alternate forms of treatment are worth considering. Pain management specialists at Boise Ketamine Clinic can offer IV ketamine treatment, but don’t ignore other treatments like yoga, visualization, biofeedback, and many others.
  • Accept that you’ll need to learn new ways of doing things.

Diagnosis & Treatment

There is no single diagnostic test or procedure to diagnose reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome. Imaging tests like (x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging) or nerve conduction tests can help pinpoint the source of pain. If you have pain symptoms, only an experienced healthcare provider can provide an accurate diagnosis – but this assumes that certain conditions are achieved, like the lack of another problem that accurately explains your pain symptoms. In some cases, the pain goes away on its own or people learn to deal with it, but early diagnosis is a crucial factor in preventing the syndrome from getting worse. 

Call the Experts at Boise Ketamine Clinic

If you have symptoms of reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, CRPS, or another painful medical condition, contact one of our experts today for a risk-free phone consultation. Depending on your symptoms and medical history, ketamine infusion therapy may help relieve your worst pain and help you regain control of your life.