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What is reflex sympathetic dystrophy?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2020 | injuries |

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is more commonly now known as complex regional pain syndrome. If you have this condition, you know how terribly difficult it is to manage your pain. Many people, unfortunately, have RSD. Some people find that they develop this injury at work, and it may manifest as a carpal tunnel injury or a knee injury. You may need to have at least one surgery in the area, sometimes more than that, though not everyone needs to undergo an operation.

What happens is that the pain becomes incredibly high over time, and the body gets mixed signals on how to adjust blood vessels after the injury has occurred and subsequently healed. But the body may still think it is injured, and thus shrink the blood vessels although there does not appear to be an injury. For some individuals, even a seemingly gentle touch such as clothing on the skin can end up being too painful because of this response. It is not necessarily that the injury itself is very serious, but the pain feels much worse than the injury appears to be.

For many years, doctors did not have a diagnosis for this severe pain response. It was not readily understood why people would feel such a high level of pain from a repetitive stress injury or treating surgical procedure, such as carpal tunnel release or arthroscopic knee surgery. Eventually, this response came to be known and recognized as reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

Treatment may require significant pain management to try to get the pain under control. The pain, unfortunately, may spread to other parts of the body. It may go from one arm to the other or from one leg to the other. It may even affect your eyesight. From a legal standpoint, this is something that you may have to battle with insurance companies all the time.