Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD
RSD and Me
I am writing this hub from a personal standpoint of what RSD is, and how it has affected me. For the record I am not a licensed health care professional.
What is RSD?
RSD (Regional Sympathetic Dystrophy) is also known as CRPS type 1 (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). Both names are synonymously used. This is a malfunction in the nervous system that affects the skin, muscles, bones, circulatory system, nerves and blood vessels.
History of RSD
The first known case of RSD/CRPS dates back to the 1860’s during the American Civil War. Soldiers were experiencing a burning pain after having bullets removed. It was named Causalgia, a Greek word meaning a burning.
Who Can Get RSD?
Anyone at any age can get RSD, but it is more likely to happen between the ages of 40-60, and is more prevalent among women. The younger the person the better the prognosis will generally be.
I was diagnosed with RSD four months after having fractured my fibula bone in the bottom of my leg, due to abnormal swelling from my calf and down into my foot, ankle and toes. Most cases of RSD will be in either the arms or legs but can be found in other parts of the body as well and can spread.
Various tests were performed such as an ultra sound, bone scan, and x-rays. In my particular case I had an injury where the blood was flowing too fast and washing away the calcium needed to heal the bone properly. My body reacted to this by causing swelling to the injured leg preventing me from using it properly. The sympathetic nerves were acting over-time so to speak and this caused a burning pain turning the skin color a shade of red.
Seeking Medical Help for RSD
The best time to seek treatment for RSD or CRPS is as soon as possible, as the longer it is present (any time over 6 months) the more likely the person will become immune to treatment. There is the possibility of having to live with chronic pain for the rest of ones life.
As soon as I was diagnosed with RSD, physiotherapy, ice applied to my leg and foot, and a compression stocking were all recommended. Physiotherapy was started three months ago, going twice a week but has now been reduced to once per week. I was given exercises to do three times a day, and was told to apply an ice pack to the swollen areas three-four times throughout the day. At each physiotherapy session the therapist manipulates and massages my foot and toes. He then does acupuncture, which involves five needles for fifteen minutes. I'm not sure how long I will have to continue doing this, or if the RSD will ever completely go away.
Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options for RSD
Causes of RSD
Symptoms of RSD
Treatments for RSD
Tissue injury with minor trauma such as a sprain
Pain anywhere from moderate to severe
Skin changes such as color, dryness, hot or cold to the touch, sweating
Loss of motion and or stiffness
Electrical nerve stimulation
Stroke or heart attack
Hair and nail changes
Some cervical spine or spinal cord disorders
Ice and or cold water
Sympathetic nerve block
If you or someone you know are suffering from the above symptoms you should seek medical attention right away. The earlier RSD diagnosed, the greater the changes will be for it to go into remission. If not treated you can lose the ability of the effected limb to function properly.