The Vault

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Reflex-Sympathetic-DystrophyThis condition is often used interchangeably called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. It results from either damage to a limb or damage to the nerves in a limb. As that damage heals, the nerve heals in an abnormal way and causes the limb to be hypersensitive and extremely painful. Early on patients will note diffuse pain and burning, as well as redness and warmth. Over time the disease can progress to where it becomes cool, clammy, and non functional.

Early identification and treatment is a must for this condition. The longer it is allowed to persist the less likely you are to have a good outcome. Early treatments include medications, physical therapy, and sympathetic blocks. We perform the stellate ganglion block for the upper extremity and a lumbar sympathetic block for the lower extremity. A series of these blocks is often needed depending on the severity of the disease. For more severe cases, neuromodulatory techniques such and spinal cord stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation are needed to treat this condition. Please see our treatment section for a more detailed explanation.