Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) is generally considered a disorder of the nervous system, and your search for an RSD specialist should focus on doctors specializing in neurology. Having expertise in neurology, however, might not in and of itself qualify a doctor as the best choice for an RSD specialist. Particular experience with RSD patients, a willingness to coordinate treatment with other specialists, and continuing education in the area of RSD treatment and research are also important qualities to look for when choosing an RSD specialist. Most of the time, these qualifications can only be discovered by talking to others and asking questions.
Even though it is a chronic disease of the nervous system, RSD typically generates complex symptoms that affect other parts of the body, including the muscles, joints, bones, and skin. It can also affect hearing, vision, motor skills, and thought processes. Dealing with the disease can take a psychological toll as well. Due to the variety of symptoms that can occur, choosing the best specialist means choosing someone who can coordinate a team of health care and pain management professionals to address the different symptoms as they develop.
In order for any doctor, including a neurologist, to be fully equipped to handle the unique challenges of RSD, it is best that he or she have extensive experience working with RSD patients. Finding such an individual will likely take a lot of homework on your part. Asking questions is the best way to begin your search. The first place to start is with your family doctor, if you have one. Simply ask if he or she knows of any doctors, especially neurologists, who have particular experience with RSD.
Consider asking your local pharmacist as well. Your pharmacist probably fills prescriptions for many of the doctors in your area and may have inside information as to who generally treats patients with RSD. Also, check online to find any RSD blogs, boards, or groups and ask the members who they would recommend as an RSD specialist. Even if you have to travel to find the right expert, it will be well worth the effort.
Another option is to hit the yellow pages and make a list of all the neurologists in your area. After you’ve compiled a list of potential specialists, call them and ask questions. Specifically, you will need to know whether they treat patients with RSD on a daily basis. You want an RSD specialist who sees RSD patients every day, not just once in a while. If they do treat RSD patients, find out what type of treatments they use. Preferably, your RSD specialist should utilize a variety of treatments, including medications, blocks, and opiates.
Your RSD specialist should be innovative and proactive in his or her approach to treatment. No two RSD patients are the same, so you will want someone who also takes a personal interest in you as a patient. There are new developments in the area of RSD treatment every day. You will want a specialist who is up to speed on current research and treatment alternatives. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and if the doctor refuses to answer them, then he or she is probably not the doctor you want anyway.