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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.

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a relatively recent name for related conditions that have been known by other names in the past, such as “reflex sympathetic dystrophy” (RSD) and “causalgia.” What was often referred to as RSD in the past is now more commonly known as “CRPS-I,” and what was called causalgia is now more typically referred to as “CRPS-II.” Other names have included reflex neurovascular dystrophy, algoneurodystrohpy, sympathetically maintained pain, and Sudek’s syndrome. As might be guessed from the many names for these associated conditions, they are complicated and often not well-understood. They generally involve trauma to the peripheral nerves and have symptoms involving the sympathetic nervous system.

complex regional pain syndrome
Both versions of complex regional pain syndrome can result from trauma such as from motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries, and workplace injuries.

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