While there is no cure available for RSD, many physicians use medication therapy to treat and soothe symptoms to help those afflicted maintain a relatively normal functioning life.
The medications most often used for treatments are as follows.
- Analgesics, also known as pain relievers are used to help with the chronic pain associated with RSD. These include; over the counter, OTC, pain medications such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Aleve which are also beneficial in easing the inflammatory pain. Occasionally, opioid medications are necessary to help with pain when OTC medications are not sufficient.
- Neuropathy, nerve pain which creates a burn-like sensation is usually treated with antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Medications like amitriptyline and gabapentin are able to help with neuropathic pain.
- Steroids, or corticosteroids, aid in reducing inflammation and increasing range of motion capabilities in the affected extremities.
- Bone loss medications to either replace or stall the loss of minerals in bone structures are used, such as Fosamax or Miacalcin.
- Nerve-blocking medications for the sympathetic nervous system are given by injection to aid with blocking pain. This can be in the form of a local anesthetic and may help with relief.
- IV (Intravenous) Ketamine has been shown by studies to help alleviate pain in some patients affected by RSD. However, it may not help with improving everyday functioning.
What Treatments are used for RSD?
In conjunction with medication therapy, alternative therapies may or may not be used in helping alleviate the symptoms exacerbated by RSD. These therapies include:
- Heat Treatment or therapy may aid in the relief of swelling and pain at a particular affected site.
- Topical analgesics are used on the surface of the skin to penetrate deep to relieve different types of pain.
- PT or Physical Therapy uses gentle guided exercises and stretches to assist with alleviating pain and improving range of motion. Early diagnosis will allow PT to be more beneficial in improving movement capabilities.
- Mirror therapy, a type of treatment used to trick the brain has been shown by studies in helping reduce pain and improve mobility in the affected extremities.
- TENS, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is useful by way of applying measured doses of electricity to nerve endings. It produces analgesics effects in some patients.
- Biofeedback, a medical form of meditation, is where the patient learns to relax certain parts of the body, becoming more aware of specific areas and hopefully easing the pain.
- Spine stimulator, also known as spinal cord stimulator, is inserted directly into the spinal cord. It emits a small electrical pulse to aid in relieving pain.
- Intrathecal analgesia pump is where analgesic medication is directed into the spinal cord fluid for maximum pain relief.
How does one with RSD maintain a healthy life?
Chronic pain and debilitating disorders are challenging to live with and create a chain effect in all areas of your life. Physicians and mental health professionals recommend performing normal daily activities to the best of your ability, pacing yourself to conserve energy. In addition, keep up relationships with family and friends, and continue your hobbies and favorite past times as much as you’re able to.