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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome (formerly known as RSD) is a chronic painful condition that affects a limb following serious or sometimes minor injury. The mechanism of this condition is poorly understood but likely is multifactorial involving aspects of both the central and peripheral nervous systems. The symptoms include severe pain, loss of limb function, swelling, color and temperature changes, and hypersensitivity. Early treatment is key to managing the devastating impact of this condition. Rehabilitation with a qualified therapist can help minimize progression of the condition while improving pain and function. This should typically take place as soon as possible. Medications can also be very helpful and include antidepressants, ketamine infusions, and anticonvulsants. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches coping mechanisms that assist the patient in managing their pain. Patients can also receive benefit from sympathetic nerve blocks including stellate ganglion blocks and lumbar sympathetic blocks. Spinal cord stimulation is an option for patients whose symptoms do not improve with more conservative treatment.