Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome - Share Your Experience

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What is reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)?

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a condition that features a group of typical symptoms, including pain (often "burning" type), tenderness, and swelling of an extremity associated with varying degrees of sweating, warmth and/or coolness, flushing, discoloration, and shiny skin. RSD is also referred to as "complex regional pain syndrome," "the shoulder-hand syndrome," "causalgia," and "Sudeck's atrophy."

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Comment from: Gator Girl, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 04

In 2009 I was in a car accident and had to have brain surgery in 2011. From the car accident my hips began to burn and swell. At first the doctors just said that I was gaining weight. After the brain surgery I had to have my rotator cuff fixed and a tear in bicep. Within days my hand swelled and turned purple. I felt as if I had glass all in my hand and arm. The orthopedic doctor said it was from being in the sling and I more than likely had a pinched nerve. This went on for about 2 months. My occupational therapist said she thought it was complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). I went to my neurologist on my own and asked him. He took one look at me and said he was sorry but yes, I had reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD). I had 6 blocks in my neck to see if it would help, but not one block took. I am better in my hand all except that my fingers are all contracted and that will never change; and now they have finally decided that it has spread to both of my hips. I am in constant pain in my hips, but life must go on. I am still able to work and I am grateful that I have a loving family that helps me on a daily basis.

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Comment from: Faith, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 05

Seventeen years ago, after suffering with tendonitis, I had an ulnar nerve transposition. I awoke after surgery in extreme pain which continued for 4 months when my physiotherapist finally told my orthopedic surgeon. They thought I had reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD). My left arm was swollen, purple, and sensitive to touch and temperature, my finger nails ceased to grow, I had a long patch of black hair that ran on the underside of my arm and finally no longer had use of my hand or arm. I was prescribed drugs, nerve blocks, pain management and hypnosis. I finally have just learned to live with it. Some days are good, some days bad. But I am alive and remember there are many more people in this world worse off than myself.

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