Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome or RSDS is characterized by severe
burning pain, pathological changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, and extreme sensetivity touch
RSDS Symptoms: (Keep in mind that this
varies from patient to patient)
- Severe burning pain
- Pathological changes in the bone (typically in late stages, visible on x-ray
or bone scan)
- Excessive sweating
- Pathological changes in the skin
- Tissue swelling (edema)
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Pathological muscle weakness
- Nerve damage (visible on skin or nerve biopsy and/or Electromyogram)
"Typical features include dramatic changes in the color and
temperature of the skin over the affected limb or body part, accompanied by intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating,
and swelling. Doctors aren’t sure what causes CRPS. In some cases the sympathetic nervous system plays an important role in sustaining the pain. Another theory is that CRPS is caused by a triggering of the immune response, which leads to the characteristic
inflammatory symptoms of redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected."
~National Institute of Nuerology and Stroke
As many as 65% of RSD cases come from soft tissue injuries; such as burns,
sprains, strains, tears, and most of the problems that end in “itis”; bursitis, arthritis, and tendonitis to name
RSDS/CRPS Type I can follow a simple trauma (fall or sprain), break
or fracture (especially wrist and ankle), a sharp force injury (such as a knife or bullet wound), heart problems,
infections, surgery, spinal injuries/disorders, RSI's (Repetitive Stress Injuries), CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome),
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, injections, and even some partial paralysis injury cases.
CRPS TYPE II involves definable major nerve
injury. Type II is also what was once known as Causalgia.
Stage one symptoms:
Burning pain: usually in the hand or foot, but can occur in other
Swelling and tenderness: affected area is swollen and sore to
Temperature and color change: skin of affected area may feel warmer
or colder than normal skin, and may look shiny, dry, red, or tight.
Sweating: excessive sweating is often accompanied by a low-grade
Rapid hair and nail growth
Loss of movement in joints: joints in affected areas become stiff
and mobility is restricted.
Muscle spasms: spasms can be confined to one area or up and down
the arms, legs, or back.
Stage two symptoms:
Extreme sensitivity: light touching, breezes, bed sheets, or air
conditioning can cause an extreme amount of pain.
Spreading pain: pain may spread from feet or hands up to the hips
Change in hair and nails: hair growth decreases and nails become
cracked, brittle, grooved, and spotty.
Increased swelling: the affected area may become pale and waxy-looking.
Bone and joint damage: osteoporosis (weakening of the bones) sets
in. Joints thicken and become less mobile.
Muscle atrophy: muscles shrink and weaken from lack of use
Stage three symptoms:
Severe bone, muscle, and skin damage: the changes in affected
bone, muscle, and skin become irreversible. The skin becomes tight and muscle and other tissue become weak and constricted.
Constant pain: The pain becomes unyielding (although for some,
the pain decreases in stage three).
Severe mobility limitations: there is a muscle atrophy and severely
limited mobility of the affected area. Joint movement is greatly impaired and occasionally the limb will be displaced from
its normal position.
~The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Typically, test results will come back negative in the first stage.
In the second and third stage, if the patient ever progresses to that point, nerve damage (either mildly in the nerve endings
or severe in the main nerves), Osteoporosis or an elevated sedimentation rate (inflammation level in the blood) are likely
to develop as time goes on.
Also, in the later stages, outward
symptoms become more obvious such as color changes, swelling, spasticity or tremor.
Disclaimer: The existence of
stages is controversial among medical proffessionals. Some say that the stages can be neatly divided into time frames as to
how long 1 and 2 last. Others say patients may have symptoms from all three at one time. Others say that there is no such