Have you been diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy following a North Carolina motor vehicle crash?

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a disorder of the nervous system that features intense, often unremitting pain. One advocacy group says it represents “the most painful form of chronic pain that exists today by the McGill Pain Index.”

Secondary symptoms include changes in the skin, hair, and nails; poor blood flow to the injury site; excessive sweating; and muscle wasting. There is no known cure.

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy and complex regional pain syndrome

Although many healthcare providers continue to use the diagnosis reflex sympathetic dystrophy, in modern practice, it’s common to classify RSD cases as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), Type I. The disorder typically begins with a minor injury, often on an arm or leg. For reasons not completely understood, this triggers a severe overreaction by the nervous system. Nerves become inflamed and begin to generate pain signals. At the same time, control over blood flow to the injured area becomes erratic, causing alternative cold and hot sensations.

As the weeks pass, the pain intensifies and spreads to a larger area. In 70 percent of all CRPS cases, the pain gradually extends to a larger area. The intermittent blood flow ultimately can damage muscle tissue, which will waste away in the most advanced cases.

There is also a related disorder, the Type II form of complex regional pain syndrome, sometimes called by its older name causalgia. This disorder is triggered by an injury that involves significant nerve damage. In contrast, Type I CRPS or RSD usually begins with a physical injury that does not obviously affect the nervous system. Among the classic cases of RSD are patients who suffered minor to moderate car accident injuries who went on to develop reflex sympathetic dystrophy over the next several weeks.

Psychological effects of chronic pain

The patient who is lucky enough to find a doctor to correctly diagnose her RSD condition—and fortunate enough to respond well to treatment of symptoms—is still not home free. Even the best treatment options only ease the pain somewhat. Any patient who has to live with the constant pain of reflex sympathetic dystrophy also may face the following complications:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness due to changes in the limbic system of the brain
  • Dental problems due to dry mouth
  • Social isolation


Getting relief from reflex sympathetic dystrophy

If you have been involved in a North Carolina traffic accident due to someone else’s negligence, and your injuries have left you dealing with intense pain, you should know that a recovery may be possible. The New Hanover County personal injury attorneys at Speaks Law Firm can seek compensation for your medical bills, physical and occupational therapy, lifetime lost income, and suffering by filing a lawsuit against the driver at fault and against his insurance company.

Call us today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233. Your initial consultation with our law firm is confident and completely free. Also ask how you can get a FREE copy of The North Carolina Auto Injury Book by R. Clarke Speaks, as our way of introducing our firm to you.

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