Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

SandraleeStarred Page By Sandralee, 15th Aug 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Drugs & Medicines

Abnormal excitation of nervous tissue, leading to abnormal impulses along nerves that affect blood vessels and skin.
The involuntary nervous system, peripheral nerves, and brain seem to be connected to the symptoms of this disease.
It is not contagious but is very painful in the later stages of RSD.

A family divided

The family division in regards to Pauls diagnosis and prognosis are hard on him.
He must accept the fact that there is no cure for what he has and that in a matter of time he will die from this.
It is progressive and eventually will claim the life of the sufferer.
There are stages of the disease.
However one must look into the following:
heart disease,
degenerative arthritis of the neck,
stroke or other brain diseases,
nerve irritation by entrapment (such as carpal tunnel syndrome),
shoulder problems,
breast cancer, and
drugs for tuberculosis and barbiturates.
There is no associated or identified inciting event in one-third of individuals with RSD. Fibromyalgia has been reported to coexist with RSD in some people.

The stages of RSD

RSD facts are following this list of questions
What causes reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)?
What are the symptoms of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)?
How is reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) diagnosed?
What is the treatment for reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)?
What is the prognosis of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)?
Can reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) be prevented?

Link to Educate

I do not know when my brother will lose his fight but he has not given up and pushes himself to seek help every place he can find on the internet where there is information. He has had 4 heart attacks and has had 2 heart surgeries in the last 2 years.
Here is his story.

Facts of RSD

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is characterized by a group of symptoms including pain (often "burning" type), tenderness, and swelling of an extremity associated with different levels or degrees of sweating, warmth and/or coolness, flushing, discoloration, and shiny skin.
How RSD occurs is not known, but there are often triggering events.
The only thing that could pinpoint the disease in my brother is an injury to his shoulder many years prior.
Symptoms of RSD often occur in three stages: 1) acute, 2) dystrophic, and 3) atrophic.
Diagnosis of RSD is based on clinical findings, supported by radiological tests.
Treatment of RSD is most effective in the earlier stages.

What is reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)?

Suffering is a result

The 4 Stages of RSDS / CRPS STAGE ONE

Stage one is called the acute stage and can last one to three months.
Some characteristics are warmth, coolness, burning pain, edema,
increased sensitivity to touch, increased pain, accelerated
hair/nail growth, tenderness or stiffness in the joint, spasms,
limited mobility, some bony changes may be visible on X-Ray,
abnormal amount of pain for the injury. In this stage there is
decreased sympathetic activity. For Paul he feels his limbs are on fire
and is amazed when he actually felt cool to the touch (this is due to the lack of blood
flow to the extremities).


Stage two is called the Dystrophic Stage and can last three to six
Pain is constant, as in stage one, and throbbing, burning, aching,
crushing in nature and is exacerbated by any stimuli. The affected
limb may still be edematous, cool, cyanotic (discolored), or mottled
(different shades). Nails are brittle and ridged. Pain and stiffness
persists. Muscle wasting may begin.
Patient usually starts experiencing short-term memory problems , as
well as increased pain from noises and/or vibrations, and other
changes in the limbic system; these include the inability to
concentrate, find the right word when speaking. X-Rays may reveal
signs of osteoporosis. Patients may start to repeat themselves.
Also, Patients may start to repeat themselves (sorry, couldn`t help
that .. hee hee ...). In this stage there is increased sympathetic
Some Doctors will try and use tools such as x-rays, Bone Scans,
thermograms, and others during Stage 2 and Stage 3 to confirm a
diagnosis of RSDS. Understand that while these tests MAY show the
presence of RSD, they are rarely conclusive and they should not be
used as the sole determining factor in whether a patient does or
does not have RSD. The only positive way of diagnosing RSD is a
physical exam by a Doctor knowlegeable in RSDS. These other tests
should only be used as one of many tools to aid in that diagnosis.
They are also useful in tracking the progress of the disease over
the course of the time.


Stage three is called the atrophic stage and can last an unlimited
amount of time. Pain as usual is typically constant but can increase
or decrease, depending on the person, and the RSDS may spread to
other parts of the body. At this stage irreversible tissue damage
may occur. Skin becomes cool, thin, and shiny.
Contraction of the extremity may occur as well as atrophy of the
limb (decreased joint movement). Skin atrophies (wasting away) and
loss of movement or mobility may also occur. X-Rays may show marked
demineralization and increased osteoporosis.
At this stage many RSD patients are not likely to be effectively
treated with blocks as the percentage of SIP (Sympathetically
Independent Pain) is now much greater than the percentage of SMP
(Sympathetically Mediated Pain), meaning the majority of the pain
signals are now originating in the brain and not at the original RSD
site where a local block would help.
Pumps are usually discussed at this stage but there are other
treatments available and more are coming all the time.


Most patients will never advance to Stage 4.
In this Fourth Stage, RSD is resistant to many forms of treatment
and many Physicians would now recommend a Pump or a DCS/SCS.
However, there are a great many problems associated with the use of
SCS units for RSD patients, even though they work well for other
pain problems.
Also in this stage there is an involvement of the inner organs.
Please do not allow any Doctor to amputate the affected limb unless
it is a medical necessity due to gangrene or the like. While it is
infrequent, there are some uneducated Drs out there who are
performing amputations in an effort to eliminate the RSD pain. This
is not only barbaric it is ineffective. It not only does not work
but it also in most cases will exacerbate the RSD and increase the
spread rate.
Always ask to speak to a Doctor's other patients before undergoing
any type of implant or surgical procedure. Educate yourself on the
internet. Talk to other patients. In the end, YOU are most
responsible for what happens to your body. It is the only one you
get so treat it with the utmost care. You deserve first class care

While being able to divide patients into a neatly defined stage is
that most patients have symptoms from multiple stages at the same time
making a definitive diagnosis difficult.

- Stage 1 and Stage 2 are so brief, sometimes less than a few months
total, and very few patients are diagnosed within those first few months..

- Some patients may never advance to Stage 3 and only a very few
patients will advance to Stage 4.
This is the stage my brother is heading into.
RSD over a period of months. Like diseases
such as MS, RSD is a progressive disease, meaning it advances over
The outcome he faces is grim and I am submitting his own writing on the subject.

- Not all Doctors agree on the existence of a Fourth Stage.

Paul McMillan My baby brother in his own words

Paul McMillan
19 hours ago near Amarillo, TX
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a chronic and debilitating condition that causes excruciating burning pain changes in bone and skin tissue, excessive sweating, sensitivity to touch and swelling (edema). The condition affects and involves the sympathetic nerve system. The causes are many and include trauma from an injury, an
d can also be caused by heart attacks and surgery. Other causes may involve lacerations or wounds, degenerative disc disease, burns or compression injuries, cerebral lesions, repetitive motion disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome. This is also a very devestating condition for the patient to deal with as it is so terribly misunderstood. Psychological difficulties include and arise from lack of sleep due to the pain involved, depression in attempting to cope with the increasing disability and relationship difficulties from family and friends who don't understand either the condition or what the patient is experiencing.
Stage one is thought to last from 1 to 3 months and is characterized by severe, burning pain, along with muscle spasm, joint stiffness, rapid hair growth, and alterations in the blood vessels that cause the skin to change color and temperature.

Stage two lasts from 3 to 6 months and is characterized by intensifying pain, swelling, decreased hair growth, cracked, brittle, grooved, or spotty nails, softened bones, stiff joints, and weak muscle tone. Stage two may also include a peripheral nerve lesion.
Stage three

In stage three the syndrome progresses to the point where changes in the skin and bone are no longer reversible. Pain becomes unyielding and may involve the entire limb or affected area. There may be marked muscle loss (atrophy), severely limited mobility, and involuntary contractions of the muscles and tendons that flex the joints. Limbs may become contorted. (1)

Symptoms can include:

severe burning pain

pathological changes in bone and skin

excessive sweating

tissue swelling

extreme sensitivity to touch
other symptoms that have been noted are:Changes in skin temperature, color and texture. At times your skin may be sweaty; at other times it may be cold. Skin color can range from white and mottled to red or blue. Skin may become tender, thin or shiny in the affected area.

Changes in hair and nail growth.

Joint stiffness, swelling and damage.

Muscle spasms, weakness and loss (atrophy).

Decreased ability to move the affected body part I,m in stage three I have Severe Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy SO Now You No About Me.


Injured, Injury Diagnosis, Injury Prevention, Injury Prone, Injurys, Nerve Damage, Nerves, Pain, Risk, Risk Factor For Heart Attack, Risk Factors, Risk Of Heart Disease, Risk Profile, Rsd, Symptoms

Meet the author

author avatar Sandralee
The love for my children drives me to leave a legacy of hope and faith, a desire to attain the highest goals and never limit their chances to learn and grow.

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author avatar A K Rao
18th Aug 2012 (#)

Oh Sandralee this is a touching and also an educative article! God bless you and your brother with his chocest blessings! Thanks for sharing such a nice topic, which I am sure most of us don't have any idea about!

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author avatar Sandralee
18th Aug 2012 (#)

Thank you. I love my little brother and pray for him daily. He was so happy when he found out it rated a star. He is awesome.

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author avatar Desiree
1st Nov 2012 (#)

I also have RSD..was in having chest presure, dizziness and short of breath...not sure if this a "stage" of RSD or not...but it wont go away...but the "S" of RSD ..."sympathetic nerve"states it affects the breathing and heart since I also have high pulse and b/p upon walking....Also God Bless you and your brother...your an angel for staying at his side!

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