Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) syndrome is a form of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). And once you have it, a range of bothersome symptoms can affect your well-being and daily life. One such symptom is joint pain.
Our expert team at Houston Pain Specialists, led by board-certified pain management specialist Hui Kang, MD, offers numerous pain relief solutions for RSD to help restore your quality of life.
Take a few minutes to learn more about RSD, including how it can affect your joints.
No one knows the exact cause of RSD, but it’s believed to involve poor functioning of your sympathetic nervous system. Some 90% of cases follow a trauma, such as a brain injury, fracture, infection, sprain, or surgery.
And in all cases of RSD, the main symptoms is intense chronic pain that’s disproportionate to the severity of that trauma. If you have a fracture, for example, the pain would linger on well past the healing of the bone.
RSD usually affects your arms, hands, legs, or feet. Your symptoms, which primarily affect the same area, may also include:
- Burning pain
- Changes in your nails or hair growth patterns
- Changes in skin temperature or texture
- Excessive sweating
- Skin color changes, such as paleness or red blotches
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Swelling and stiffness of the affected joint
What to do about RSD joint pain
Because RSD affects areas of your body that contain important joints, joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are common. If you injured a specific joint prior to developing RSD, you have a higher risk for such symptoms.
And once joint pain unfolds, you may find it difficult to move or use the affected joint normally.
Treatments that help you manage RSD in general can also improve your joint-related symptoms. Depending on the specifics of your condition, we may recommend:
- Anti-inflammatory pain medications
- Electrical nerve stimulation, which affects nerve endings for reduced pain
- Physical therapy, for increased flexibility, range of motion, and strength
- Occupational therapy, for adapted and maintained skills
- Spinal cord stimulation, for reduced pain signals to your brain
Lifestyle measures may help reduce RSD joint pain as well. Consider shifting to a more nutritious diet, balancing appropriate exercise with rest, and seeking support from loved ones or your care team at Houston Pain Specialists as needed.
The sooner you get a diagnosis and treatment plan for your RSD symptoms, the more effective and least invasive your treatment is likely to be. Early treatment may also make way for better outcomes, while lowering your risk for complications.
To learn more about RSD and joint pain or to get the support you need, contact our Houston, Texas, office today to schedule an appointment.