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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."

Return to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome

See what others are saying

Comment from: Steve Sr 77, 75 or over Male (Caregiver) Published: July 27

I've been living with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) since contracting shingles about 5 years ago. The RSD settled in 2 weak areas of my left leg, a weakened knee due to too much of the sport of curling (over 50 years) and a twisted ankle due to a golfing injury. Treatment over that period with Lyrica has helped. I am not in pain as others have described but my lefty leg feels numb from the knee to my big toe. Fortunately, it has not affected my being able to golf or do other activities such as gardening.

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Comment from: Oziti, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 19

I had both feet operated bilaterally for sizable neuroma removals twice in my 20s. I even fully recovered from a post-operation bone infection in right foot. Fast forward to my 30s and 40s. I had three more bilateral surgeries in each in a different inter space. I was told only that 2 earlier surgeries were not successful nerve cuttings. The last surgery was what has led to bilateral reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD). The post-operation pain got worse and worse. I was referred over to a pill counting pain management doctor who had no concern about a diagnosis or viable treatments. I spent years feeling and being judged as an opioid seeker. I had to retire at 44 and was found totally disabled. I continue to be grateful for Medicare and Social Security. Fourteen years later I still manage the pain levels, but now I have a 'team'. An absolute god sent pain management doctor who works with me monthly to try to maintain my value of daily life, my physical therapists and depression counselor. I have an implant SCS (spinal cord stimulator) and my 2nd intrathecal pump now running Prialt instead of opioids for the last 2 years. I still require breakthrough medicines. Don't ever give up. If not in my lifetime, but for our future generations, we must all remain positive in finding a cure.

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Comment from: S MURPHY, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 26

I hate having this reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome. The pain kills me, it feels like I am on fire. My feet burn, my legs burn and hurt so bad. Not a day goes by that I don't hurt. The pain is so bad I used to think about killing myself, then I would think who would take care of my kids better than me, and the answer is no one. So here I am trying to beat the pain, maybe one day I will.

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