What Is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?


Quick Answer

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is a disorder that affects the sympathetic nervous system. This condition is mainly associated with extremely painful sensations that last for more than 6 months. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is sometimes referred by other names, including complex regional pain syndrome, notes WebMD.

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The exact cause of reflex sympathetic dystrophy is not known, notes Mayo Clinic. However, most cases of this condition occur after trauma to the leg or arm. Injuries and surgeries sometimes lead to this condition. The most common symptom of this condition is a continual burning or throbbing pain in the arm or leg.

Individuals with this condition may experience a change in skin color. The skin temperature sometimes gets cold or sweaty. Individuals may develop stiff joints that may swell. Their muscles may grow weak due to atrophy. Other symptoms of reflex sympathetic dystrophy include inability to move affected areas, change in hair growth, sensitivity to touch and muscle spasms.

After recording the patient's medical history, doctors are likely to carry out a physical examination during diagnosis. X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, bone scan and sympathetic nervous system tests are other options used in diagnosis. Certain medications and therapies can be used to treat this condition.

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