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Monge & Associates, P.C.

Understanding Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD)

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) is a poorly understood chronic pain condition that impacts as many as 1.2 million Americans today. Characterized by constant and unyielding pain in the upper and lower extremities, most RSD sufferers develop symptoms after being injured in a work accident, motor vehicle crash, pedestrian accident, construction accident, or slip-and-fall accident.  There is no known cure for RSD.

Doctors often fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of RSD, which can be devastating because the disorder gets worse with time. Without proper treatment, the condition can cause permanent physical disabilities. The psychological ramifications can be dangerous as well.  CNN once highlighted the case of a 14-year-old girl who became suicidal as a direct result of her RSD pain.

If you have RSD, call the Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates or use our online contact form for a free case evaluation. Our lawyers have extensive experience evaluating RSD cases and are committed to helping you recover money that will cover medical expenses and other financial burdens that result from your condition.

Our firm offers a satisfaction guarantee. If you are not 100 percent satisfied with our services during the first 30 days after hiring our firm, your case file will be returned to you with no questions asked.

Here’s another guarantee to you: If we don’t win, you won’t pay us.

The Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates serves clients throughout Georgia and the Southeast, including Atlanta, Decatur, Lithonia, College Park, East Point, Stone Mountain, Norcross, Conyers, Riverdale, Duluth, Fayetteville and Loganville.

About Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome

Doctors aren’t sure what causes RSD. According to the RSD Foundation, one theory suggests that RSD manifests when the sympathetic nervous system responds abnormally to painful stimuli, such as a violent injury during an accident.  It is natural for the sympathetic nervous system – the part of the body that controls our “fight-or-flight” instinct – to respond immediately when an emergency situation arises. However, that response typically shuts down within minutes to hours of the injury. Not so with RSD. Researchers theorize that the sympathetic nervous system keeps misfiring for prolonged periods of time, thus causing long-term pain.

Another theory is that RSD is caused by an immune response in the affected area, which causes some of its signature symptoms such as redness, inflammation and a burning sensation to arise.

Other RSD symptoms include:

  • Burning and tingling in the affected part of the body;
  • Changes in skin temperature;
  • Increased skin sensitivity;
  • Changes in skin color (blotchy, purple, pink, or pale red);
  • Intense pain that worsens with time;
  • Spasms;
  • Muscle deterioration;
  • Brittle or cracked nails;
  • Shiny or thin skin in affected area;
  • Excessive sweating;
  • Motor impairment;
  • Involuntary contractions;
  • Swelling;
  • Altered hair growth patterns;
  • Bone softening.

Emotional stress can also accelerate the development of symptoms. In some of the worst cases, RSD sufferers cannot bear even a light breeze passing over their afflicted limb.

RSD is also called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), specifically Type 1 or CRPS I, because the pain frequently arises from a tissue injury. A related disorder – called CRPS Type 2 or CRPS II – arises from a distinct nerve injury, not a tissue injury.

RSD Treatment Protocol

Unfortunately, treatment for RSD is not simple because there is no test that can guarantee its diagnosis. Instead, doctors must rely on medical records and physical examinations to determine whether someone has a low, medium or high probability of having the disorder. Patients with RSD have reported that they had to see an average of five doctors before obtaining the correct diagnosis, according to the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA).

Typical medical treatments involve a combination of the following protocols:

  • Drug therapy, including opioids, antidepressants and corticosteroids;
  • Topical analgesics;
  • Spinal cord stimulation;
  • Nerve blocks;
  • Intrathecal drug pumps;
  • Physical therapy;
  • Occupational therapy;
  • Behavioral therapy.

Consistent and appropriate recommendations from doctors can sometimes put patients with RSD in remission or alleviate their symptoms so that they can lead more functional lives. All too often, however, medical providers delay providing treatment or give inconsistent treatment, and the consequences can be disastrous and disabling for RSD patients.

Legal Questions to Consider

If you have RSD, you may have a legal claim. Here are some things to consider:

  • Was your RSD caused or worsened by an accident due to someone else’s negligence?
  • Was your RSD triggered by surgery?
  • Did you develop RSD as a result of a misplaced injection?
  • Did your physician adhere to the appropriate standard of care when treating your RSD?

More Questions? Call Our RSD Lawyers Today

If you are coping with the devastating pain associated with RSD and think that you may have grounds for a lawsuit, call the Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates today. We can be reached or you may use our online contact form for a free consultation.

Remember, if we do not obtain a recovery on your behalf, you will not owe us attorneys’ fees.

The Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates serves clients throughout Georgia, including Atlanta, Decatur, Lithonia, College Park, East Point, Stone Mountain, Norcross, Conyers, Riverdale, Duluth, Fayetteville and Loganville.


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