PAL Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) in Gurgaon

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) is a condition that causes lasting pain and is usually caused due to an injury to your hand or feet. It involves an abnormal response of the nervous system, particularly the sympathetic nervous system. During RSD, your sympathetic nervous system gets mixed signals. It gets activated after an injury but doesn’t turn back off. This results in the occurrence of pain and swelling at the injury site.

RSD initially affects one limb but then slowly spread throughout the body. Statistics show that 35% of affected people report symptoms throughout their whole body.  It is also believed to occur after an illness or injury with little to no direct evidence of nerve damage in the affected limb. Generally, symptoms can increase gradually after the injury. During this stage severity of pain is typically worse than the original injury itself.

While medically the exact cause of the disease is unknown,  a number of cases have actually been treated successfully. It is recommended that if RSD is suspected, then treatment be started at the earliest to prevent prolonging of symptoms and increase of symptoms. 


While the exact cause of RSD is still unknown, medicine has managed to narrow it down to a disruption of the normal functioning of the Sensory Nervous System. This can happen in the event of a number of causes such as:

  • Amputation: Dismemberment of a body part either on purpose or by accident
  • Bruises due to trauma from a powerful force on the limbs
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Fractures
  • Minor surgery: Post surgery pain
  • Needle sticks
  • Radiation therapy can cause side effects where the sensory nervous system gets damaged
  • Sprains
  • Brain Injuries
  • Damage to blood vessels


During RSD, the symptoms show up slowly. Initially, the patient might report pain, but over time it may get worse. Some might even report an abnormal level of pain.

The major symptoms of RSD include:

  • Shooting  pain
  • Increased skin sensitivity
  • Change in skin temperature: warmer or cooler compared to the opposite extremity
  • Change in skin color: often appearing blotchy, purple, pale or red
  • Change in skin texture: Appearing shiny and thin, sometimes excessively sweaty
  • Changes in nail and hair growth
  • Swelling and stiffness in affected joint
  • Motor disability
  • Atrophy or flattening of muscles
  • Decreased sensation of skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle Spasms

Diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy:

It is difficult to detect RSD until the patient has had it for some time. Generally, an abnormally higher level of pain than what should be expected for a type of injury can be the first sign of an RSD.

While there is no single test to definitively confirm whether you have RSD we rely on a physical exam and medical history. There are however a few tests that can provide clues to see if you have certain signs of the condition. These include:

  • Bone scan to detect if any bones are wearing away at the ends or blood flow issues.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging to look at tissues for noticeable changes.
  • Sweat test to check if sweating is more prominent on one side of your body than the other.
  • Thermography test to check if the temperature or blood flow is different at the injury site than in other parts of your body.
  • X-rays to look for a mineral loss in the bones.

Physiotherapy Treatment for RSD :

Physiotherapy has been proven to be really helpfulto alleviate the symptoms of RSD. A physical therapist can help alleviate the pain while promoting muscle strength required for performing simple daily activities. It is advisable to seek treatment options as early as possible on suspecting RSD to prevent worsening of conditions. Some of the common physical therapy options that are available can be summarized as follows.

  • Ice packs may be used to reduce pain, however, Do not use ice packs if the patient displays cold sensitivity.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation which primarily aims to provide a degree of symptomatic pain relief by exciting sensory nerves and thereby stimulating the pain gate mechanism.
  • Active-Assisted Movements of the wrist or foot, to restore normal motion of the joint.
  • Specific exercise regimen of joints of the painful hand/ leg
  • Desensitization Techniques for normalization of increased and painful sensation.
  • Gradual Weight Bearing
  • Fine Motor Control to improve daily activities like writing, buttoning shirts etc.
  • Splints to prevent stiffness, maintain joint mobility & promote pain-free movements.
  • Mirror Box Therapy similar to the treatment of Phantom Limb to alleviate pain.

Sector 41, Gurgaon

  • Plot-5P , Basement, Sector- 41
  • Near Shaktipeeth Mandir, Gurgaon
  • Helpline: +91 9811 3434 17
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Sector-56, Gurgaon

  • 560 -P, Basement
  • Near Alpine public School, Sector 56
  • Helpline: +91 9811 3434 17
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