Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) is a chronic pain condition that usually affects the arms or legs and displays a typical group of symptoms including pain (intense burning or aching), tenderness, swelling, discoloration and altered temperature.
Types of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Type 1 RSD: occurs after an injury or illness that does not directly damage the nerves in the affected limb.
Type 2 RSD: (causalgia) occurs after a distinct nerve injury. Often, the pain is disproportionate to the severity of the injury.
What are the primary causes of RSD?
The cause of RSD is not completely understood, but many times it manifests itself following some type of type of trauma, minor or severe. Medical experts believe that the trauma to a particular area of the body causes irritation and abnormal excitation of nervous tissues, which leads to abnormal impulses along the nerves affecting blood vessels and skin.
What are the symptoms of RSD?
RSD can display a gradual or rapid onset of symptoms, and it may not display all typical symptoms. The symptoms may change over time and will vary by person, age and type of trauma. Typical RSD symptoms include:
- Burning pain
- Increased skin sensitivity (allodynia)
- Changes in skin temperature, color, and texture
- Changes in hair and nail growth in the affected limb
- Joint stiffness and swelling
- Muscle spasms, weakness, and loss (atrophy)
- Immobility of the affected body part
RSD often starts with swelling, redness, changes in temperature and hypersensitivity. In many RSD patients, the symptoms may worsen over time, and the involved limb may become cold and pale, display skin and nail changes, and suffer muscle spasms and tightening. Like most medical conditions, the symptoms associated with RSD may vary considerably based on the individual.
What are the treatments for RSD?
There is no cure for RSD. Rather, most treatment options seek to relieve the painful symptoms of the disease. Treatment for RSD is most effective when started early after the initial trauma or soon after the condition is suspected. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that once the condition progresses and the limb becomes cold and pale and muscle tone is lost, the condition is often irreversible.
Personal injury lawyers experienced with RSD cases
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has represented clients who have developed RSD following trauma sustained in an accident. Our experience representing clients with RSD has allowed us to develop relationships with some of the leading experts on RSD research and treatment, which we frequently draw upon to help present the complexities that frequently accompany this greatly misunderstood condition.
If you or a loved one has developed RSD following an accident or other trauma, we would honor the opportunity to discuss your legal options with you. When the RSD can be causally related to an accident, the responsible party may be held responsible for both the initial trauma as well as the residual impact from the ensuing RSD.
Resources concerning the diagnosis and management of RSD and Complex Pain Syndrome:
Related materials from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers:
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) In The Elderly: A Real Cause For Concern Or More ‘Funny Medicine’?