More than 200,000 Americans suffer each year from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a neuro-inflammatory disorder caused by misfiring nerves that send the brain constant signals of pain.

Also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, this chronic-pain disorder usually follows a musculoskeletal injury, a nerve injury, surgery or immobilization, according to the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association.

Many RSD injuries can be caused by a car accident or motorcycle crash resulting from the negligence of another motorist. Accident victims are left dealing with constant, intense pain out of proportion to the original injury, American RSDHope states on its website. The pain caused by RSD may be more severe than that of the original injury.

Three-fourths of those who struggle with this often debilitating syndrome are women, and the majority of those develop it in their 30s and 40s.

Victims of this disorder suffer from swelling, skin changes and extreme sensitivity to the problem, the group reports. Even though it usually affects the arms and legs, it can occur in all body parts, spreading in 70 percent of the victims.

Main symptoms

  • Constant burning pain: The affected area may be cold to the touch but feel like it is on fire — the most painful type of chronic pain.
  • Inflammation: Affects the skin’s appearance, giving it a bruised and shiny, purplish look with small red spots. The skin temperature of these areas can be affected, causing excessive sweating.
  • Spasms: Blood vessels constrict and muscles go through rolling spasms.
  • Insomnia and emotional disturbance: This can cause problems with short-term memory and concentration in addition to confusion and sleep disturbance.

Two main types of syndrome

  • CRPS Type I, once called RSDS, can occur after a minor nerve injury from a fall or fracture of the wrist or ankle, sharp force injury such as a knife or bullet wound, heart problems, infections, surgery, spinal injuries, repetitive stress injuries, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, injections and partial paralysis injures.
  • CRPS Type II, formerly known as Causalgia, stems from a definable major injuries to nerves.

Diagnosing the disease

Doctors can diagnose this syndrome using a patient’s history, a clinical examination and lab results. They usually have to rule out other conditions that could cause the amount of pain and physical problems patients develop from CRPS/RSD. But early detection and treatment provide the best method for victims to deal with the disease.

The syndrome presents major obstacles for those who feel the pain each day and make you unable to work. Besides the difficulty of getting a correct diagnosis, victims must find a strategy for coping with the chronic pain, including the possibility of having caregivers who can help you get through basic life functions.

If you’ve developed CRPS/RSD from injuries sustained in a car crash or other accident caused by someone else, you should seek legal help. Contact a Tampa personal injury attorney experienced with handling these types of claims who can steer your case through the legal system and help you obtain an award to deal with the challenges you face each day.