Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, (RSD) is a condition characterized by burning, stiffness, swelling and discoloration of the hand. It has been determined that RSD occurs in the part of the nervous system controlling circulation and sweat glands in hands and arms. If not treated, stiffness and loss of use in the affected part can occur. Injury may precipitate RSD. Other causes may be pinched nerves, cancer, stroke, heart attack and infection. Diagnosis is based on pain and tenderness, changes in circulation, joint swelling and stiffness, and changes in appearance of skin. There are three basic stages in RSD. The first stage is characterized by pain and swelling, increased surface temperature of the affected limb, sweating, and increased nail and hair growth over the affected area. Stage I usually lasts one to three months. Stage II is characterized by more constant swelling, brittle fingernails, and cooler skin temperature as the area becomes more sensitive to touch. This stage usually lasts from three months to one year. Stage III occurs from one year on, and is characterized by pale, dry, tight skin with continuing stiffness, though pain may decrease. Return of range of motion diminishes. Early diagnosis and treatment is imperative to successful outcome. Medication by mouth and injection of local anesthetic may give some relief. A tourniquet may be applied and therapy may be recommended. A qualified physician can advise the best method of treatment; however, the full and active participation of the patient is essential to recovery. Contact us for a brochure on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. The surgeons and staff at The Face & Body Center are available to discuss any questions you may have by calling 866-939-4999 or 939-9999 in the Jackson Metro Area.