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What is RSD?

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What is RSD/CRPS?

RSD is the abbreviation for REFLEX SYMPATHETIC DYSTROPHY. RSD is a progressive, incurable, neurological disease. In short, it's a pain amplified syndrome that hosts many symptoms. The pain from RSD is the worst form of chronic pain to date. In some cases, it's more painful than Cancer! 
 
Who develops RSD?
 
ANYONE and EVERYONE can develop RSD. No one is immune! Men, women and children of all ages are afflicted with this horrible disease.
 
RSD can manifest after a trauma such as a sprain, broken bone, shrapnel, and surgery. Even a sliver can cause RSD! Other causes are viral infections, heart attacks, insect bites, and in some cases no known cause can be cited. Additionally, RSD can develop immediately following the inciting event or it can take up to a year or more to develop. 
 
What are the symptoms of RSD?
 
RSD is a unique disease in that it affects everyone differently. Not everyone who develops RSD has the same symptoms or area(s) affected by it. For some, the RSD is limited to an arm, for example. For another, it may be a leg. For others still, the RSD may be in a leg, an arm, and shoulder. There are some who have RSD throughout their ENTIRE body.
 
 
Some characteristics of RSD include (but are not limited to):
 
Severe burning, crushing, throbbing, stabbing pain.
 
Skin color changes (mottled, red, blue, purple, or cyanotic)
 
Abnormal sweating
 
Pathological changes to bone and skin
 
Extreme Sensitivity To Touch, Noise, Sound, Vibrations, and/or Temperature.
 
Swelling
 
Skin Can Be Hot Or Cold To Touch
 
Blurred Vision
 
Muscle Spasms
 
Difficulty Initiating Movement
 
Fatigue
 
Skin Rash
 
Dry Skin (sometimes moderate-severe)
 
Abnormal Hair Growth
 
Brittle Nails
 
Irritability
 
Sleep Disturbances
 
 

Sample of skin color changes:
brittsrsdcolorchanges.jpg
These pictures are of my daughter's hands and feet.

Can RSD spread?
 
YES! Some medical professionals believe it does, others do not. I'm  here to tell you with 100% absolute certainty, RSD can and DOES spread in some individuals!
 
 ~I recently met with a specialist who told me that RSD does not spread - "it stays limited to one area. If the symptoms do spread, then it's called Amplified Pain Syndrome or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome." (see Diagnosis section below) It has been documented that approximately 80% of individuals with RSD have had it spread & some doctors still call it, RSD while others call it something else. See why this disease is so confusing? No one agrees on the what's, why's, how's, statistics, etc. Not to mention, what to call it! 
 
 
 
 
What are the treatment options most recommended?
 
There are a host of treatments available for RSD, but it's important to keep in mind that what one treatment (or combination of treatments) works for one person, may or may not work for another. There is NO universal treatment. Successful treatment(s) is reached through "trial and error."
 
Some of the most common treatments used by doctors are:
 
Medicines (oral, topical & IV)
Nerve Blocks
Therapy (PT, OT, Aqua Therapy, Psychotherapy)
Spinal Cord Stimulators
 
 
 
 
Criteria for Diagnosing

 
 
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I (RSD)
  • The presence of an initiating noxious event, or a cause of immobilization
  • Continuing pain, allodynia, or hyperalgesia with which the pain is disproportionate to any inciting event
  • Evidence at some time of edema, changes in skin blood flow (skin color changes, skin temperature changes more than 1.1C difference from the homologous body part), or abnormal sudomotor activity in the region of the pain
  • This diagnosis is excluded by the existence of conditions that would otherwise account for the degree of pain and dysfunction

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type II (Causalgia)

  • The presence of continuing pain, allodynia, or hyperalgesia after a nerve injury, not necessarily limited to the distribution of the injured nerve
  • Evidence at some time of edema, changes in skin blood flow (skin color changes, skin temperature changes more than 1.1C difference from the homologous body part), or abnormal sudomotor activity in the region of pain
  • This diagnosis is excluded by the existence of conditions that would otherwise account for the degree of pain and dysfunction.
 
 

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