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Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also called complex regional pain syndrome (CRP) is a  progressive, chronic, painful condition that affects the skin, muscles, joints, and bones. The syndrome usually develops after an accident and/or surgery involving an injured body part (such as a broken arm) and causes severe pain that is out of proportion to the severity of the specific injury.

There are three stages of RSD. The first is called the acute stage which occurs in the first 3 months and may involve burning pain, swelling, increased sensitivity to touch, increased hair and nail growth in the affected region, joint pain, and color and temperature changes. The second stage is called dystrophic occurring in months 3-6. This stage may involve constant pain and swelling. The affected limb may feel cool to the touch and turn blue. Muscle stiffness, atrophy of the muscles, and early osteoporosis also may occur. The third stage is called atrophic, occurring after 6 months.  In this stage, the skin may feel cold and look shiny, muscle stiffness and weakness increases. Also, symptoms may spread to another limb.

Motor, Nervous, and Immune Systems will be affected. Symptoms may worsen over time and may become disabling. The following are some of the symptoms of RSD:

  • Burning pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Skin color changes
  • Skin temperature changes
  • Joint pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Frequent infections
  • Difficulty starting movement
  • Increased muscle tone, stiffness
  • Muscle spasm
  • Tremor
  • Weakness
  • Dermatitis
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Migraine headache

The proper diagnosis is often very hard to achieve unless an injured individual seeks medical treatment from a doctor experienced with RSD. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of RSD, notify your doctor and request a Three Phase Bone Scan, which can often help detect RSD.Oftentimes, a diagnosis of RSD is only rendered after other conditions that produce similar symptoms.

Although there is no known cure for RSD, the following treatments have proven effective in redcuing the symptoms of RSD:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Medication
  • Nerve Block
  • Psychotherapy
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation

Like doctors, all injury attorneys are not created equal when it comes to handling an RSD injury. If you have been injured in an accident in Wisconsin and have developed symptoms of RSD, it is important to contact an experienced Wisconsin Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – RSD or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – CRPS Injury Attorney.

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Randy Rozek

Attorney and Owner of at Rozek Law Offices, SC
Randy has been helping to protect and rebuild the lives of his injured clients for nearly two decades. He is a nationally-recognized leader in the representation of brain injury survivors and he is regularly asked to speak to other lawyers around the country on brain injury related legal topics.
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