Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a syndrome that occurs as a result of an injury to a nerve or soft tissue that does not follow a typical healing path. The damaged nerves misfire and send constant pain signals to the brain. RSD/CRPS results in extreme pain, tissue swelling, pathological changes in bones and skin, excessive sweating and sensitivity to touch. The development of RSD/CPRS is not dependent on the magnitude of the injury; it simply occurs as a result of ineffective healing following an injury.
There are two types of CRPS CRPS Type I, also known as RSD, refers to cases where an injury cannot be immediately identified.
CRPS Type II, also known as causalgia, occurs when a specific, major nerve injury has occurred.
An estimated 8 million Americans suffer from RSD/CRPS. Diagnosis can be difficult because the symptoms are similar to those of other more common ailments, such as chronic pain, rheumatic disease and fibromyalgia. The syndrome is chronic and incurable, but pain can be managed effectively when diagnosed and treated before the progression of the disease is irreversible.
Possible Causes of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
The exact cause of RSD/CRPS is not known, but experts believe an excessive immune response, possibly due to a latent infection, is to blame in most cases. Other factors that can increase risk of developing RSD/CRPS include any condition that inhibits oxygen flow, such as smoking, diabetes or circulatory problems.
Possible Symptoms of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Symptoms of RSD/CRPS include chronic, burning pain; extreme skin sensitivity; extreme sweating; nail changes; swelling and temperature changes at the site; fatigue; muscle spasms; fever; headaches and insomnia. Symptoms range in severity from mild to debilitating, with the severity of the symptoms being directly related to the scope of the initial injury. Symptoms can remain localized or can spread to other parts
Possible Lifestyle Changes for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Early detection and treatment of RSD/CRPS is critical. Getting help within the first three months of the disease can mean the difference between complete remission and life-long chronic pain. If pain seems disproportionate to an injury, see a pain specialist immediately, and bring along a list of symptoms and questions to the first meeting. People with RSD/CRPS should eat a healthful diet and avoid coffee, processed foods, sugar and foods containing nitrates (bacon, sausage and hot-dogs). Drink plenty of water. Get regular, moderate exercise, but rest when needed.