RSD stands for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. It is also known as called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS. CRPS is a painful condition in which the nerves in your arm enter into overdrive. The nerves become ultra-sensitive and this can manifest in a number of ways. Typically triggered by an injury, researchers are unsure of the cause or CRPS. Many people experience pain above and beyond the normal scope for their particular injury. Other symptoms include persistent stiffness, persistent swelling, skin color changes, temperature changes, and dark hair growth. Occasionally people will present with swelling, skin discoloration or stiffness without the pain. It’s important to note you can have CRPS without the extreme pain.
If your therapist suspects you may have CRPS, they will adjust your treatment plan accordingly. Typically, we use different techniques to attempt to calm the nerves. Tepid water soaks can help immensely. Continued activity will help you work through it. You must continue working your arm. Depending on the amount of pain you are experiencing your therapist or doctor may suggest a stellate ganglion nerve block. It is important to keep your arm moving after the block. If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of CRPS, contact your physician or therapist.
For more information on the types and stages of CRPS visit the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons’ website.