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    Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome

    It is possible that the main title of the report Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


    • Algodystrophy
    • Algoneurodystrophy
    • Causalgia Syndrome (Major)
    • Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy
    • RSDS
    • Sudeck's Atrophy
    • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • None

    General Discussion

    Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), also known as complex regional pain syndrome, is a rare disorder of the sympathetic nervous system that is characterized by chronic, severe pain. The sympathetic nervous system is that part of the autonomic nervous system that regulates involuntary functions of the body such as increasing heart rate, constricting blood vessels, and increasing blood pressure. Excessive or abnormal responses of portions of the sympathetic nervous system are thought to be responsible for the pain associated with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome.

    The symptoms of reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome typically begin with burning pain, especially in an arm, finger(s), palm of the hand(s), and/or shoulder(s). In some individuals, RSDS may occur in one or both legs or it may be localized to one knee or hip. Frequently, RSDS may be misdiagnosed as a painful nerve injury. The skin over the affected area(s) may become swollen (edema) and inflamed. Affected skin may be extremely sensitive to touch and to hot or cold temperatures (cutaneous hypersensitivity). The affected limb(s) may perspire excessively and be warm to the touch (vasomotor instability). The exact cause of RSDS is not fully understood, although it may be associated with injury to the nerves, trauma, surgery, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, infection, or radiation therapy.


    Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association of America
    PO Box 502
    Milford, CT 06460
    Tel: (203)877-3790
    Fax: (203)882-8362
    Tel: (877)662-7737

    American Chronic Pain Association
    P.O. Box 850
    Rocklin, CA 95677
    Tel: (916)632-0922
    Fax: (916)652-8190
    Tel: (800)533-3231

    Arthritis Foundation
    1330 West Peachtree Street, Suite 100
    Atlanta, GA 30309
    Tel: (404)872-7100
    Tel: (800)283-7800

    NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    P.O. Box 5801
    Bethesda, MD 20824
    Tel: (301)496-5751
    Fax: (301)402-2186
    Tel: (800)352-9424
    TDD: (301)468-5981

    American Pain Society
    4700 West Lake Avenue
    Glenview, IL 60025
    Tel: (847)375-4715
    Fax: (866)574-2654
    c/o Dannemiller, Inc.
    5711 Northwest Parkway
    San Antonio, TX 78246
    Tel: (210)641-8311
    Fax: (210)641-8329

    American RSDHope
    P.O. Box 875
    Harrison, ME 04040-0875
    Tel: (207)583-4589
    Fax: (207)583-4978

    International Association for the Study of Pain
    IASP Secretariat
    1510 H Street NW
    Suite 600
    Washington, DC 20005-1020
    Tel: (202)524-5300
    Fax: (202)524-5301

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223

    P.A.R.C. Promoting Awareness of RSD/CRPS in Canada
    PO Box 21026
    St. Catharines
    Ontario, L2M 7X2
    Tel: 9059340261

    Irish Chronic Pain Association
    Coleraine House, Coleraine St.
    Dublin, 7
    Tel: 35318047567
    Fax: 35318047567

    Multiply, Inc.
    6001 Park of Commerce Blvd. Suite 300
    Boca Raton, FL 33487

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

    Last Updated: 8/17/2007
    Copyright 1986, 1987, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2007 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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