About Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) Type I, is a chronic pain syndrome that can affect any part of the body, however, it occurs most frequently in the hands, feet, arms, legs, shoulders or knees. It has been recognized as a distinct clinical condition for over 100 years and has been known by various names including algodystrophy, Sudeck's atrophy, causalgia, and sympathetically-maintained pain.

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is characterized by:

  • Severe, chronic pain often described as stinging or burning
  • Sensory abnormalities such as allodynia (pain due to a stimulus which does not normally provoke pain) or hyperesthesia (increased sensitivity to stimuli)
  • Motor impairment such as weakness, tremor, stiffness, or decreased range of motion
  • Edema (tissue swelling) and hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating)
  • Progressive trophic changes to skin, hair, nails, muscle, and bone
  • Increasing dysfunction of the affected limb

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy causes great suffering and distress in most patients. In addition to severe pain, which in some people remains chronic and unremitting, patients may also experience serious physical disabilities and reduction in their quality of life that can lead to:

  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Anger

Although the symptoms and clinical features of RSD can vary from patient to patient, the one common cardinal feature that is shared by all patients is severe pain that is disproportionate to the original injury. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy does not exist in the absence of pain.

Currently, there is no single test for the diagnosis of reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Therefore, physicians use both subjective (patient history) and objective (physical examination) methods to establish a diagnosis. Imaging or other tests may be included to confirm the diagnosis or to rule out other conditions.

A variety of other conditions can mimic the signs and symptoms of reflex sympathetic dystrophy and have to be ruled out before a definite diagnosis of RSD can be established. These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Lumbar or cervical disk herniation
  • Peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy
  • Nerve entrapment syndromes (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome

Currently, there is no cure for RSD because the underlying disease process is not well understood. Treatment, therefore, is aimed at controlling and reducing the severity of the symptoms. In general, early diagnosis and treatment is associated with a more favorable prognosis.

The goals of treatment for reflex sympathetic dystrophy include:

  • Controlling and minimizing pain
  • Functional rehabilitation of the affected limb
  • Managing any psychological deficits, such as depression and anxiety, if present
  • Prevention of progression and worsening of RSD symptoms
  • Improving the patient's quality of life

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy can be a lifelong condition that can have a significant impact not only on the patient but on family and friends as well. The condition may affect many aspects of the patient's life in varying degrees including:

  • Activities of daily living
  • Employment
  • Social life
  • Personal life

Some adjustments of daily life that RSD patients may have to make include:

  • Frequent leave of absence from work or possibly early retirement due to inability or difficulty performing work-related tasks
  • Giving up or modifying leisure activities such as hiking, kayaking, traveling
  • Modification of exercise regimens
  • Foregoing routine activities such as driving or shopping
  • Participating in some family activities and outings.

The Medifocus Guidebook on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a unique, comprehensive patient education resource that contains vital information about Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy that you won't find anywhere else in a single resource. The Guidebook will answer many of your questions about this condition that your healthcare provider may not have the time to answer. To learn more about the Guidebook, please click here

About the Medifocus Guidebook on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, it's important to learn as much as you possibly can about this condition so that you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

The Medifocus Guidebook on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a unique and comprehensive patient education resource that contains vital information about Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy that you won't find anywhere else in a single source. Available both as a Soft-Cover Book and as an E-Book (PDF), the Guidebook will answer many of your questions about Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, including:

  • The causes and risk factors for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.
  • The clinical signs and symptoms.
  • The diagnostic tests and procedures that are necessary to confirm the diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.
  • The standard treatments and the treatment options currently available for the management of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.
  • The impact of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy on quality of life.
  • The latest clinical and research advances for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy as reported in credible, trustworthy medical journals.
  • A directory of doctors and medical centers that have special interest and clinical expertise in the management of patients with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.
  • A listing of organizations where patients can seek additional information, services, and support.

Whether you've been newly diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or have suffered with it for several years, the Medifocus Guidebook on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy can serve as a valuable resource to help you better understand and cope with this condition. When you purchase your copy of either the Soft-Cover Book or the E-Book (PDF), you will also receive Free Updates for one-year.

Thousands of satisfied customers have purchased the Medifocus Guidebook on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy for themselves, a loved one, and even their healthcare provider. Their Testimonials are a tribute to the quality of the work product that our editorial staff has created. With a customer-satisfaction rating of over 98%, we're so confident that you will be satisfied with your purchase that we offer an iron-clad Risk-Free Satisfaction Guarantee. To learn more about the content, please download a Free Preview of the Guidebook that will enable you to review an abbreviated version of the individual sections.


Your MediFocus Guidebook on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy helped me understand my diagnosis. It gave me a clear insight into what the disorder is about and a way to find out about the treatments for RSD. It also gave me a way to inform those around me. Anyone who has RSD or knows someone who is diagnosed with RSD needs this easy to read and understand Guidebook.
Casper, Wyoming
I was recently diagnosed with RSD and I purchased the MediFocus Guidebook on this condition. The book was very well written and I immediately gave it to one of my doctors. With the help of the Guidebook, we were able to come up with a better treatment plan to help alleviate my pain. Sincere thanks.
Pennsauken, New Jersey
I have been seen by some of the best RSD specialists in my area. Each of them told me there was nothing more that could be done for me. I became extremely frustrated and lost all hope of ever getting better. Many times I have searched the Internet for information about RSD and always came up with info I already had. I accidentally came across your website, ordered a book and was absolutely amazed at the amount of information now available to me. Although I have had you book only a short time, I have already discovered some new information. And with so many recent reports from doctors all over the world, perhaps I will come across some sort of treatment I haven't tried yet. The main thing is, I now have hope again thanks to your book. Thank you.
Fonthill, Ontario
Thanks for a chance to say a few words about your MediFocus Guidebook. When unexplained illness hit me, I didn't know what it was or what to ask my doctor. Then I purchased your Guidebook and that made all the difference. When I arrived with a list of pointed questions, the doctor spent more time with me than before and I felt comfortable understanding the diagnosis and treatment. Thanks for understanding what I was up against... it has helped a lot.
Prescott, Arizona
It is great to have serious health issues explained in an easy to understand format. When you are ill, it is overwhelming when you trying to search for information about your illness. Medifocus helps you find the important information regarding your issues and the latest research and discussions by the medical profession. I am enjoying my Guidebook.
Ft. Bragg, California
Thanks for the wonderful MediFocus Guidebook. The more familiar I've become with it, the less it scares me to know that I have this condition. It is comforting to know that there is so much research ongoing even though there is not a cure just yet. Many thanks for your Guidebook?one person could never have compiled all of these sources together alone.
Jacksonville, Florida