Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome - Treatment

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What kinds of treatment, including medication, have you tried for your RSD?

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What is the treatment for reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)?

Response to treatment of RSD is greater in the earlier stages of the condition than in the later stages.

  • Cool, moist applications to the affected areas can provide some relief of burning symptoms.
  • Gradual exercise can help prevent contractures.
  • Medications for pain and inflammation can also reduce symptoms.
  • For persisting symptoms, high doses of prednisone (cortisone) may be used for periods of weeks, depending on the response, and then gradually reduced.
  • Other medications that may be of benefit include amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep), pregabalin (Lyrica), and clonidine (Catapres, Catapres=TTS, Jenloga).
  • Occasionally, a nerve block with anesthetic injected into a specialized area of the involuntary nervous system (for example, a stellate ganglion blockade) can help both in treatment and in establishing the diagnosis. Sometimes a series of these blocks is tried.
  • Other treatments include surgically interrupting the nerves (the sympathetic nerves) of the involuntary nervous system (surgical sympathectomy), implanting pumps with pain medication into the spinal canal (intrathecal drug pumps), and spinal cord stimulation devices.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: steve c, 65-74 (Patient) Published: July 08

I got RSD/CRPS (reflex sympathetic dystrophy/complex regional pain syndrome) in my right foot and toes following ankle surgery. I was not diagnosed for 4 months. I have been to several doctors who knew little about this problem. For treatment I tried 6 nerve blocks with no help. I tried physical therapy, maybe helped a little. Finally I found a doctor who has treated me 12 days in a row with Calmare therapy and I am doing well so far. It is a non-invasive electric stimulus treatment that is helping me and others.

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Comment from: Sherry, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: September 15

I have had RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) for four years, the result of multiple surgeries. The pain was indescribable so I went to a pain clinic. I've had a neurostimulator implanted and it's helped immensely. I realize that physically things will never be the same, however my quality of life with this stimulator has been so much better.

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