Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, is medical condition also known as RSD, is a condition of burning pain, stiffness, and discoloration of the hand. RSD includes other medical diagnoses such as casualgia, Sudeck’s atrophy, and shoulder -hand syndrome. RSD occurs from a disturbance in the sympathetic (unconscious) nervous system that controls the blood flow and sweat glands in the hand and arm. When the nervous system becomes overactive, burning pain is felt and swelling and warmth are left in the affected arm. If not treated, RSD can cause stiffness and loss of use of the affected part of the arm.
 
What causes RSD?

In some cases, the cause of RSD is unknown. Often an injury, a car wreck a slip and fall or a personal injury loss can cause RSD, or the symptoms may appear after surgery. Other causes include pressure on a nerve, infection, cancer, neck disorders, stroke or heart attack. These conditions can cause pain, which sets off the sympathetic reflex causing RSD symptoms. Never injuries may change the way he nerve impulses are sent, causing a “short circuit.”
 
Signs and Symptoms. The pain associated with reflex sympathetic dystrophy is often described as a burning in nature. Swelling can cause painful joints and stiffness. RSD has three stages:
 
Stage 1: (Acute)
 
The Acute Stage of RSD may last up to three months. During this stage the symptoms include pain and swelling, increased warmth in the affected part/limb, and excessive sweating. There may be faster-than-normal nail and hair growth and joint pain during movement of the affected area.
 
Stage 2: (Dystrophic)

The Dystrophic Stage of RSD can last three to twelve months. Swelling is more constant, skin wrinkles disappear, skin temperature becomes cooler, and fingernails become brittle. The pain is more widespread stiffness increases and the affected area becomes sensitive to touch.
 
Stage 3: (Atrophic)

The Atrophic Stage of RSD occurs from one year on in most cases. The skin of the affected area is now pale, dry, tightly stretched, and shiny. The area is stiff, pain may decrease, and there is less hope of getting motion back.
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