Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

DISCLAIMER: This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. Anyone who wishes to embark on any medical program intended to prevent or treat a specific disease or condition should first consult with a qualified physician.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) is a chronic pain disorder associated with sensitivity to light touch, swelling, skin color and temperature changes, weakness, abnormal sweating, muscle atrophy, and subsequent depression.

RSD can follow a simple trauma (fall or sprain), a break or fracture (especially wrist and ankle), a sharp force injury (such as a knife or bullet wound), heart problems, infections, surgery, RSI/CTS, spinal injuries/disorders, or major trauma. But the precipitating cause is not always known. The original injury may happen weeks, months, or even years before the proper diagnosis is made, which contributes to this problem. RSD is found in both men and women, but typically about 75% of patients are women. It occurs in patients of all ages, although about 65% of patients contract the disease in their thirties and/or forties.

HBOT decreases inflammation and edema while increasing blood flow to the starved limbs and nerves that are damaged by the course of the disease. This in turn reduces fibrous tissue formation. HBOT seems to break the cycle of RSD because it stops abnormal sensory nerve stimulation and efferent vasomotor activity.

Most RSD sufferers report a full night’s sleep after a few treatments of HBOT along with a decreased need for narcotics. After a series of treatments, there is a reported noticeable improvement in thinking and diminished depression. The swelling of the effected limb associated with RSD diminishes, and they are able to start physical therapy with marked improvement in muscle strength. Many people afflicted with RSD have then been able to return to a happier and more productive life, frequently returning to their prior occupation.

Since every patient is different, it is hard to predict the result in each individual case. However, research and experience show that HBOT is safe and will not make the patient worse. If a significant response is noted after 40 HBOT treatments, then additional treatments may be helpful.