Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome
Sometimes the injuries that follow from an accident are not always proportionate to the injury event. For example, a simple (and perhaps even moderate) injury to an arm or leg can spark a response in the victim’s immune system. This in turn can cause swelling and redness to occur in the affected area. While sometimes these symptoms abate as time passes, in other injury victims the redness and swelling are accompanied by pain. These symptoms can spread throughout the affected area and even to other areas of the body. When this occurs, the victim may be diagnosed with RSD/CRPS.
What is RSD/CRPS?
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), is a regional, chronic condition that can cause severe pain. Sufferers of RSD report the pain to be stinging or burning and often out of proportion to any stimulus that might have touched the affected area. For example, some have reported that simple splashes of water on the skin have felt like ice shards; a gentle stroke along the arm becomes an exceedingly painful experience. The pain may be unrelenting. In addition, RSD may cause changes in the blood flow of the skin above the affected area. Depending on the victim and the stage of his or her RSD, the skin may appear unusually red and warm or cool and blue. The pain and changes of blood flow can result in limitations on the victim’s movement, especially if RSD is affecting a joint such as an elbow or shoulder. All of this pain and limitation on movement can lead sufferers of RSD to experience depression, worry, and/or anger.
RSD is divided into two types depending on whether there is an identifiable nerve injury. In Type 1, there is no identifiable nerve injury: instead, all that is present are the pain associated with a physical injury and the RSD. There may be damage to small nerve fibers that transmit pain sensations. In Type 2, there is an identifiable nerve injury such as a spinal cord injury or a crushed or severed nerve.
Is There a Cure?
At present, there is no cure for RSD. The earlier the condition is diagnosed and treated, though, the better the chance that the condition can be put into remission. Various treatment options are available and are designed to help alleviate the severity of the symptoms associated with RSD. These treatment options may include:
- Prescription medications;
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy, or other kinds of therapy designed to restore movement and use to the affected part of the body;
- Nerve blocks and spinal pumps, which are typically used when a victim’s RSD symptoms do not respond to medications or other conventional forms of treatment;
- Counseling or therapy to address any psychological harm that the victim’s RSD symptoms are causing.
How is RSD Diagnosed?
A medical professional will need to evaluate the signs and symptoms of a patient and conduct a physical examination in order to determine whether the patient is indeed suffering from RSD. In some cases, more specialized testing may need to be performed in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
How Can RSD Impact My Personal Injury Case?
Like any other injury caused by the negligent or reckless behavior of another person, you may be entitled to compensation for the treatment costs of your RSD as well as the psychological injuries your RSD causes. You should be prepared, however, for the defendant in your personal injury case to claim your RSD is nothing more than a preexisting condition or that you are “faking” the severity of your injuries. To combat these tactics and increase your opportunity for compensation, your attorney may suggest that you:
- Keep all doctor’s appointments as scheduled and report your symptoms at each visit;
- Comply with all reasonable treatment directives your doctor gives you (whether those directives include prescription medication, therapy, and/or counseling);
- Gather evidence of how RSD has impacted your life so this can be presented at your trial. This evidence can include photographs or videos of the activities in which you are no longer able to engage, the testimony of friends, family, and/or coworkers, and your own personal testimony.
Contact a Sacramento RSD attorney for help
If you have been injured by another person’s careless acts, contact The Law Office of Edward A Smith today.
Ed Smith is a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney. He has helped those who have been seriously hurt in Sacramento and throughout Northern California. Give him a call to discuss your case. Ed has assisted folks injured in serious auto collisions, pedestrian-related accidents, motorcycle crashes, and other personal injury-related matters caused by no fault of their own. Call Ed Smith at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. Elsewhere, give him a ring toll-free at (800) 404-5400.
Meet Ed’s friendly staff.
Active Member in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. These are highly rated trial lawyers who have won many cases worth over one million dollars.
Ed Smith practices personal injury law exclusively – since 1982.
Read Past Verdicts and Settlements page.