Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

You hurt. It’s the best way to describe your condition. Your body aches all of the time. It is hard to fall asleep at night and when you walk throughout the day, you struggle with pain there, too. Many people have severe pain, burning pain, and joint stiffness. You may have skin that seems to hurt or ache when it is touched. And, you may have trouble moving your arms or legs from time to time. If these are some of the symptoms you have, you may be suffering from a complex condition known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD. Though it may be hard to tell others about this type of pain and have them understand, our team of pain management doctors in New Jersey can help because we do understand.

When Should You Seek Care for RSD?

Most people do not know they have RSD until a doctor tells them that is the cause of the pan they feel. You may think the inflammation and swelling, changes in your hair growth, and the changes to your nails have nothing to do with each other, but they are all connected in this condition. And, the pain itself can occur for a variety of reasons. In some people, it is brought on by spinal cord and spinal nerve root communication problems – these nerves communicate pain signals to your brain. When something interferes with that transmission or message, it can lead to pain that seems out of the ordinary.

Other people suffer from this condition as a result of an immune system response. For some people, the underlying cause isn’t fully understood. However, our New Jersey pain management doctors can often help you. Our team can help to determine if you do have RSD and then offer solutions that can help to minimize your pain and help to restore your normal health and function. If you are tired of struggling every day, you don’t have to. Come in to see us and to learn more about what RSD is.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) are the same conditions. The terms are used interchangeably. RSD is the older term, and replaced by CPRS because it better describes the symptoms of this chronic pain condition.

Symptoms of a body area affected by RSD/CPRS include:

  • Severe, intense pain
  • Burning pain
  • Inflammation, swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Skin hypersensitivity
  • Skin color changes; pale, red, purple, blotchy
  • Skin texture changes; sweaty, thin, shiny
  • Skin temperature changes; warm, hot, cool, cold
  • Difficulty moving the body area (e.g., hand, arm, leg, foot)
  • Hair growth changes
  • Growth changes of finger and toe nails

Possible causes of RSD/CRPS

Complex regional pain syndrome is thought to be caused by dysfunction of the central and/or peripheral nervous systems, or triggered by the body’s immune response.

  • The central nervous system is the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots.
  • The peripheral nervous system is the nerves that have branched off nerve roots and extend through the body such one arm or a hand.
  • An immune response is how the body reacts to a harmful substance, such as a chemical.

Diagnostic examination for RSD/CRPS

The purpose of the diagnostic examination is to learn about your complex regional pain syndrome; its trigger and pain characteristics (e.g., location, pattern). We use this information, which includes your medical history in developing your treatment plan.

Questions our Doctors may ask include:

  • When did symptoms start?
  • Where do you feel pain?
  • Did a particular event precede pain?
  • Have pain and other symptoms improved or worsened?
  • Does pain radiate into another part of your body?
  • On a scale of zero (no pain) to 10 (agony), what is your current pain level?
  • How does RSD/CRPS affect your ability to work or perform ordinary activities of daily life?
  • Do pain and symptoms disrupt your sleep?
  • Other questions specifically related to you and your symptoms.

Managing complex pain

Unfortunately, there is no cure for complex regional pain syndrome. The focus of your care is your pain and symptoms. We combine non-operative interventional therapies that effectively control pain, restore mobility, and improve your quality of life. Interventional means to ‘intervene’ to stop and manage pain.

Expert interventional spine care

The Rehabilitation Medicine Center of New Jersey can help you manage the painful effects of reflex sympathetic dystrophy / complex regional pain syndrome. Although no specialist can cure your symptoms, our staffs depth of experience and vast knowledge in the treatment of complex pain can help you to live a more fulfilling and productive life.