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.