Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a painful, chronic neurological disorder also known as complex regional pain syndrome. There is no cure for RSD, but there are many tips available for dealing with RSD pain. Some of the best tips include taking medications on time as prescribed by a doctor, participating in physical therapy, joining a support group and using hot or cold packs regularly.
RSD causes nerve pain, muscle spasms and swelling in the legs and arms. This disorder usually appears after a traumatizing event such as surgery, being shot, having an amputation or suffering a heart attack. The condition is chronic and patients can experience varying levels of RSD pain off and on.
One tip for living with RSD pain is for patients to take all of their medications as directed. A doctor may prescribe opioid painkillers to manage RSD symptoms. Antidepressants may also provide relief because of their ability to block nerve pain. Patients who do not like the side effects of their medications should not stop taking the pills abruptly. RSD patients should instead schedule an appointment with their doctor to discuss other prescription options.
Physical therapy also can be beneficial in managing RSD pain. Biofeedback therapy can teach patients how to relax their bodies, which can help to reduce muscle spasms. Classic physical therapy techniques such as guided exercises also can be effective for some sufferers.
Some healthcare providers will prescribe patients tubes of numbing cream for external use. Topical analgesics such as lidocaine can be applied directly to the skin as needed. This cream or gel will help to numb the painful area, providing temporary pain relief.
An important tip for RSD patients to remember is not to try to deal with the mental aspect of the condition without assistance. Chronic pain can cause people to feel depressed or isolated. Patients who believe they may be suffering from depression as a result of RSD pain should seek help from a counselor. Joining a support group either in a local community or on the Internet can help chronic pain patients to feel less alone in their suffering.
At-home self-help tips are an important part of managing RSD pain. Muscle spasms can often be soothed with heating pads. Cold packs may provide relief for people who get shooting nerve pain as a symptom.
Patients suffering from RSD pain should monitor their symptoms and know when to rest. It is important for chronic pain patients to have hobbies and to spend time with friends, but overdoing physical activities can trigger pain flares. RSD patients should look for a balance that allows them to enjoy life and take care of their health at the same time.