Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a condition that features a group of typical symptoms including pain, tenderness, and swelling of an extremity associated with varying degrees of sweating, warmth and/or coolness, flushing, discoloration, and shiny skin. RSD is also referred to as “complex regional pain syndrome”, “the shoulder-hand syndrome”, “causalgia”, and “Sudeck’s atrophy”. RSD can be caused by a number of events including, but not limited to, injury, herat disease, stroke, carpal tunnel syndrome, shingles, and breast cancer.

Symptoms vary by the stage at which one is in. Acute RSD includes burning, flushing, blanching, sweating, swelling, pain, and tenderness. An x-ray may show changes of patchy bone thinning in this stage. Dystrophic RSD includes early skin changes of shiny, thickened skin and contracture with persistent pain, but diminished swelling and flushing. Atrophic RSD may include loss of motion and functioning of the involved hand or foot and thinning of the fatty layers under the skin. An x-ray can show significant osteoporosis.

Shiel, Willam C., MD, FACP, FACR. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1, CRPS). Medicine Net.

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