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RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) is a type of complex regional pain syndrome associated with problems in the nervous system. Typical symptoms include dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected limb or body part, accompanied by intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating, and swelling. This condition can strike at any age and appears to be more common in young women.

What Is RSD?

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a chronic pain condition that is believed to be the result of problems in the central or peripheral nervous systems.
 
Typical features of this condition include dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected limb or body part, accompanied by intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating, and swelling.
 
RSD is a type of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) known as CRPS I. The term describes all patients with the RSD symptoms but with no underlying nerve injury.
 
(Click Causalgia for more information on CRPS II.)
 

Who Does It Affect?

RSD can strike at any age and affects both men and women, although it appears to be more common in young women.
 

What Causes RSD?

At this point, doctors aren't sure what causes it. In fact, in all likelihood, RSD probably does not have a single cause, but is rather the result of multiple causes that produce similar symptoms.
 
Researchers are currently looking at certain chemicals in the nervous system and the immune system for possible RSD causes.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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