Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy also goes by the name of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). This condition occurs most commonly in the hand, but can also affect the arm, legs and feet. It involves issues with the nerves and has two types. Type 1 happens after an illness or injury that indirectly affected the area. Type 2 happens after a distinct nerve injury.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Causes:

There is no evidence to what exactly causes Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, although some symptoms can be tied to it;

  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Surgery
  • Pressure on a nerve
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack 
  • Neck problems

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Symptoms:

Usually symptoms will occur after and injury or surgery;

  • Intense burning pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Treatment:

Seeking treatment early on can help prevent the progression onto later stages. There are nonsurgical treatments such as;

  • Medications
  • Injection therapy
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Physical Therapy - Advanced soft tissue release (ASTR)

If the nonsurgical treatment does not help, there are some surgery procedures that can release the symptoms;

  • Spinal cord stimulator- mild electric impulses are delivered to the affected area from an implanted electrode
  • Pain pump implantation- medication pump
  • Patient avoided hip surgery.

  • Patient avoided back surgery.

  • This newborn came in unable to move his neck from the side position. He suffered from torticollis, severe neck and back spasms. After just 1 ASTR treatment, he had complete range of motion.

  • Patient came in unable to move his neck from the side position. After 3 ASTR treatments, he regained full range of motion.

  • This young gymnast came in unable to do the splits. After just 1 ASTR treatment, she had full range of motion.


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