Response to treatment is greater in earlier stages than later stages of reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Cool, moist applications can provide some relief of burning symptoms. Gradual exercising can prevent contracture. Medications for pain and inflammation can also reduce symptoms. For persisting symptoms, high doses of prednisone (cortisone) are used for periods of weeks, depending on response, then gradually reduced. Occasionally, a nerve block with anesthetic injected into a specialized area of the involuntary nervous system (stellate ganglion blockade) can help. Sometimes a series of these blocks is tried.
Other treatments include surgically interrupting the nerves (the sympathetic nerves) of the involuntary nervous system (surgical sympathectomy), pain drug pumps implanted into the spinal canal (intrathecal drug pumps), and spinal cord stimulation devices.
I just want to reach out to the person who asked this question and those that are truly suffering from RSD. I suffered with sever RSD for 8 years and like many patients, tried every treatment available. Nothing worked. After exhausting every conventional treatment and being on a pain pump with very high doses of dilaudid, I was getting ready to be put in a nursing home because I was be ridden. Then....I received a miracle. We found a neurosurgeon who was willing to try an experimental surgery. I had a parasympathectomy to shut off the nerves to my left arm and hand and right arm. IT WORKED!!!! I still have RSD and all of the symptoms but..NO PAIN! Find a neurosurgeon and ask if they will consider this experimental treatment. When I woke up, the only pain I had was from the surgery. I detoxed off all of my meds within 3 months and was back to work in 4 months. Bottom line...DON'T GIVE UP!
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