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What Is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?


Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

While healing from a hand or foot injury, you may have unexpected pain.

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). It is a painful nerve problem that often occurs in the hand or foot that has been hurt. If untreated, the pain and weakness that RSD may cause can limit use of the injured region.

What Triggers RSD?

Getting injured may trigger RSD. It can be something minor, like a sprain or a cut. Or, it may be more severe, like a fracture. As you're healing, you may feel new, severe pain in the injured region. That pain may spread through the injured limb. Over time, other symptoms may appear.

Symptoms and Signs of RSD

Symptoms and signs of RSD can begin right away, or may not show up until about 2 weeks after you get hurt. If you aren't treated soon, the symptoms can worsen or change over time. Below are symptoms and signs that can occur in the injured region:

Early-Stage RSD

 Severe, burning pain

 Sensitive to touch

 Swollen, reddish look


 Warm and sweaty sensation 

Late-Stage RSD

 Skin slowly withering (shriveling)

 Skin that becomes dry and shiny

 Loss of strength

 Strange hair growth

 Ridges in skin look flatter than normal

Contact Wisconsin River Orthopaedic Institute at 715.201.3624 for your orthopaedic needs. For your convenience, you can fill out our online Request an Appointment form to book your consultation.

Wisconsin River Orthopaedics
140 24th Street South
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494
Phone: 715-201-3624
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