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Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a condition characterized by pain and difficulty moving the extremities. Symptoms usually start in the hand or foot and may spread proximally. In rare cases, reflex sympathetic dystrophy may occur in the central nervous system, but the disease does not follow the peripheral nerve distribution. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy may also affect the contralateral limb or spinal level. Because it is often accompanied by pain, patients should be evaluated by a physician to ensure the diagnosis of the condition.

Neuropathic Pain Disorder

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), is a neuropathic pain disorder. It is typically aggravated by traumatic injury and is marked by neuroinflammation. Earlier diagnosis of CRPS1 improves treatment options by promoting more effective blocking of proinflammatory responses and mobilization. Treatment for this condition should begin as soon as possible.

Research suggests that the sympathetic nervous system influences the afferent nerve, which regulates pain. Studies in experimental animals have revealed that sympathetic stimulation increases afferent barrage, possibly through an increase in local noradrenaline levels. Furthermore, the expression of functional adrenoreceptors on primary afferents has been implicated in the relationship between sympathetic and afferent nerves.

Treatments for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy include spinal cord stimulation and intrathecal drug pumps. In rare cases, a patient may undergo sympathetic nerve division. This treatment is controversial. However, if a patient’s symptoms are not relieved with the help of medication, spinal cord stimulation may be performed. For severe cases, patients may undergo spinal cord stimulation. The procedure involves cutting a portion of the sympathetic nerve.

Treatment Goals for CRPS

Treatments for CRPS include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medications. The goal of treatment is to manage pain and improve mobility. The Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association provides support for patients and information on the condition. Further research is needed to confirm the diagnosis. There is no cure for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, but a person can live with the condition for many years.

Despite the fact that RSD has no known cure, it has several effective treatments. Treatments may include increasing exercise programs to restore function and preserve mobility. RSD patients often develop depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. A patient may undergo sympathetic nerve blocks to reduce pain and improve the effectiveness of therapy. The use of different drugs for RSD is currently controversial. If the condition is affecting the right nerve, sympathectomy may help reduce symptoms.

Identifying Treatment for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

A recent meta-analysis concluded that prophylactic administration of high-dose vitamin C may reduce recurrence of symptoms. These studies are needed to identify a treatment for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. A recent meta-analysis of RSD trials failed to determine whether the sympathetic blockade is helpful. Patients suffering from CRPS1 should undergo neuromuscular rehabilitation if possible. The goal of this study is to find early objective markers of the disorder and make better-informed decisions regarding treatment.

The involvement of the sympathetic nervous system in RSD has profound implications for its treatment. It has led to enormous amounts of clinical and experimental research. However, the exact mechanism involved in reflex sympathetic dystrophy is still unknown. Different suppositions have led to conflicting findings. One of these views is that sympathetic outflow in a limb relieves pain by inhibiting the activity of the peripheral vasoconstrictors. However, this hypothesis has been challenged by scientists.


Adami, S., et al. “Bisphosphonate therapy of reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome.” Annals of the rheumatic diseases 56.3 (1997): 201-204.

Kozin, Franklin, et al. “The reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome: I. Clinical and histologic studies: evidence for bilaterality, response to corticosteroids and articular involvement.” The American journal of medicine 60.3 (1976): 321-331.

Dr Aline Wersey
Dr Aline Wersey
I work in the medical field as a doctor. I love sharing my knowledge with many people and the important thing why you should believe in me is that I am a specialist. Really love to read many journals.

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