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RSD Calls for Aggressive Treatment

Following a traumatic injury such as a crushed hand or broken collar bone, you or someone you know may have suffered from reflex sympathetic dystrophy. This is a multi-system syndrome that is usually found in the extremity, but can influence all parts of the body. The root cause of the syndrome, and the pain associated with the RSD, is a hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls bodily functions such as the blood flow and temperature. When a person suffers from RSD, their sympathetic nervous system is disrupted, often prompting pain in body parts. If you suspect that you suffer from RSD, please consult your family physician as soon as possible because early intervention will allow you to begin treatment for the symptoms.

The Symptoms

Pain is the overriding symptom found in each patient. However, many patients may also suffer from swelling, decreased motor function, a shrinkage in the muscle as well as muscle spasms. Furthermore, people suffering from RSD may also exhibit trophic changes such as loss of hair growth, changes in nail thickness and skin texture and color. If you suffer from RSD, altered sensations are among the first things that you may observe. Tingling and numbness are common words used to describe the changes in feeling. I some cases a patient may develop a hypersensitivity to touch. To illustrate this phenomenon, and individual with RSD may suffer from significant pain by experiencing even mild sensations such as touching a soft cloth with the hand. By working with a physical therapist, the patient can perform desensitization exercises to return the patient to normal sensations.

The Stages

Experts have identified three stages of RSD, indicating the progressive nature of the disease. Stage I is often mild, lasting one to three months. During this stage, the sufferer begins to notice the pain. This usually occurs immediately after a precipitating event, such as a broken bone. At this time, physical therapy provides a sound treatment. in the second phase of the disease, usually lasting from the second to the sixth month, the patient observes an increase in pain and associated symptoms. During the second phase, a patient may still undergo effective treatment but the response is less rapid and abnormalities may persist for months. The third stage of this disease is characterized by severe pain. At this time, the illness is resistant to change with irreversible changes in the tissues.

The Treatment

Treatment for this disease is best when identified early. By working with your family physician you can develop an appropriate course of treatment. The physician may prescribe analgesics or a sympathetic nerve block to relieve pain. In addition, visiting a physical therapist is often part of the treatment regimen. To take care of patients suffering from this condition, physical therapists often conduct electrical stimulation. The physical therapist may also perform manual techniques such as massage to decrease the pain associated with RSD. In addition, the physical therapist may prescribe desensitization techniques including sanding wood, scrubbing and carrying weights. With early intervention and a commitment to physical therapy, the patient can reduce the pain associated with RSD.

Therapy Services Associates
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2700 N Grimes
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-4129
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Located inside Nor Lea Hospital
1600 N Main
Lovington, NM 88260
(575) 396-5227
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We serve Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico, as well as Yoakum and Gaines Counties in West Texas.