Although reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is classified as a rare disease, it still affects about 200,000 people every year. The pain management specialists at Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care are trained in the diagnosis and management of RSD to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life overall. The team has offices in West Plano and North Plano, Texas, for convenient care close to your home or work. For RSD relief, schedule an appointment online or by phone today.


What is reflex sympathetic dystrophy?

RSD is a neuroinflammatory disorder — sometimes called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) — that causes chronic, moderate-to-severe pain. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for bodily functions like heart rate, blood pressure, and constricting blood vessels. When the normal functions of your sympathetic nervous system are disrupted, you can experience a wide range of symptoms related to chronic pain.

What are the symptoms of reflex sympathetic dystrophy?

Symptoms of RSD can vary widely depending on the location of your pain and which anatomical structures are involved. Possible RSD symptoms include:

  • Joint and muscle stiffness and discomfort
  • Burning sensation
  • Weakness in the affected area
  • Extreme sensitivity to non-painful stimuli, such as light touch
  • Swelling of the affected area
  • Excessive sweating in the affected area
  • Skin changes, such as discoloration or pitting

In most cases, RSD affects a shoulder, arm, hip, or leg. Symptoms may begin gradually over three to six months or can appear suddenly and cause more severe pain right away.

What causes reflex sympathetic dystrophy?

The exact cause of RSD is unknown, though different things can trigger it, such as:

  • Previous injury
  • Surgery
  • Trauma to the affected area
  • Radiation therapy

These types of triggers can injure blood vessels or nerves in the area and change the types of signals your nerves send to your brain. This causes an increase in pain sensation and leads to abnormal brain responses, such as decreased blood flow to the injured area so your skin appears blue or feels cold.

How is reflex sympathetic dystrophy diagnosed?

RSD is usually a diagnosis of exclusion. The team at Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care provides extensive in-office testing to rule out other possible causes of pain before determining your exact diagnosis. Diagnostic procedures for RSD include:

  • Medical history
  • Physical exam
  • Skin temperature readings
  • X-rays
  • Thermographic studies
  • Bone scans

Based on their findings, the team evaluates your condition and explains your diagnosis and treatment options.

How is reflex sympathetic dystrophy treated?

While there isn’t a specific treatment protocol for RSD, a variety of therapies can be combined to relieve your pain and other symptoms. Possible treatment plans may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing or splinting
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Glucocorticosteroid medications, like prednisone
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Sympathetic nerve blocks
  • Sympathectomy

Based on the severity of your symptoms, the team develops a personalized treatment plan to help you feel better and improve your quality of life.

Call (972) 596-1059 Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care or use online booking to schedule a visit for reflex sympathetic dystrophy diagnosis and treatment today.