RSD Specialist

Source Healthcare

Spine, Sports, & Pain Medicine Center & Interventional Orthopedic and Surgical Pain Medicine Specialists located in Santa Monica, CA

When you suffer from chronic pain, it’s not always clear what may be the underlying cause of your discomfort. If your pain is localized to your arm or leg and developed after an injury or cardiac condition, then you may be suffering from reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). RSD isn’t common, but the team at Source Healthcare in Santa Monica, California, specializes in the condition and can provide the treatment you need to improve your pain. To get answers to your questions, call the office or book an appointment online today.

RSD Q & A


What is reflex sympathetic dystrophy?

RSD, currently referred to as Type I complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), is a painful condition that often develops after an injury, heart attack, or stroke. With RSD, the pain is typically localized to your arms or legs and usually worse than the pain caused by the inciting injury itself.

What causes RSD?

It’s theorized that RSD develops due to issues related to your sympathetic nervous system, which is the system that controls blood flow, heart rate, and blood pressure. 

During an injury, your sympathetic nervous system reduces blood flow to prevent blood loss, and then increases blood flow to heal the injury. Once healed, blood flow returns to normal.

With RSD, it’s believed that your sympathetic nervous system isn’t responding as it should. It increases blood flow to the area for the healing process, but doesn’t turn it off, resulting in swelling and pain. 

What are the symptoms of RSD?

RSD symptoms tend to develop slowly and you may not realize that what you’re experiencing is abnormal. RSD pain most often develops in your arm, hip, or leg, and the pain may travel further than the original injury. 

In addition to pain, you may also experience:

  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch
  • Burning or throbbing sensation
  • Changes in hair or nail growth
  • Changes in skin texture
  • Muscle spasms

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, the team at Source Healthcare can determine if it’s due to RSD. There’s no single test that can diagnose RSD, but the team conducts comprehensive examinations to determine the underlying cause of your discomfort. 

Getting care for your RSD early improves your response to treatment and overall outcomes.

What are the treatments of RSD?

The team at Source Healthcare creates personalized treatment plans to help you manage your RSD symptoms. Your treatment plan may include:

  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Topical pain medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Pain medication
  • Nerve block injections
  • Anti-seizure medication

The team may also recommend physical therapy and psychotherapy to help improve your RSD symptoms. If you fail to get relief from your pain with conservative measures, the team may suggest surgery that severs your sympathetic nerves to restore blood flow.

To learn more about RSD and your treatment options, call Source Healthcare or schedule a consultation online today.