Diagnosis of RSD/CRPS

Unlike many diseases or conditions, there is no test, scan or study that definitively diagnoses RSD/CRPS.  The diagnosis is often a clinical or differential diagnosis, meaning that your doctor diagnoses the disorder after and as a result of a comprehensive history and physical exam and after ruling out other possible explanations for its signs and symptoms.

The vast majority of RSD/CRPS cases are caused by trauma including soft-tissue, injuries, sprains, and fractures.  The trauma may only be minor, in fact authorities agree that the development of RSD/CRPS seems to have little to do with the severity of trauma.  Some people develop the condition after seemingly inconsequential injuries and the vast majority of people experiencing even the most severe trauma will not develop it.

The most prominent symptom of RSD/CRPS is pain.  CRPS sufferer’s frequently describe this pain as burning, sharp, lancing, shooting, electrical, and radiating.  In its more chronic stages RSD/CRPS may also be described as causing a dull, boring and aching pain.  Because even minor trauma is known to cause RSD/CRPS, the medical literature often describes RSD/CRPS pain as seemingly out of proportion to the inciting event.

Other symptoms include pain which spreads outside the normal distribution of a nerve and sometimes into other parts of the body.  Affected areas may become overly sensitive to touch or other stimuli.  CRPS sufferers my feel excessive coolness or warmth in an affected extremity.

In addition to questioning a patient about injuries and symptoms, a physician will conduct a thorough physical exam of a patient in whom CRPS is suspected.  Physical signs that may confirm suspected CRPS include swelling, differences in temperature between an affected and unaffected extremity, thin skin, brittle finger or toenails, inconsistent hair growth, changes in sweating patterns, color changes, skin mottling, motor abnormalities and muscle weakness.

As noted above no specific test or exam is capable of definitively ruling RSD/CRPS in or out as a diagnosis for a given individual.   Some doctors, however, may use certain tests to assist them in making their clinical diagnosis.  These include, nerve conduction studies, EMG, punch skin biopsy’s, x-rays, bone scans , and sympathetic nerve blocks.  Again, none of these tests are able to diagnosis CRPS nor are they required for its diagnosis, but they may assist a physician in ruling out other likely causes for a patient’s symptoms.

Only a physician is qualified to diagnosis and treat RSD/CRPS.  Sadly many physicians, either because of limited experience with or a misunderstanding of RSD/CRPS, fail to recognize it in their patients.  It is not uncommon for a patient to go years suffering from RSD/CRPS, only to find out upon seeing a new physician or a specialist that RSD/CRPS is considered.

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About Belt Law Firm

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The personal injury attorneys at Belt Law Firm have successfully represented RSD/CRPS clients in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. These cases involved injuries from automobile accidents (shoulder injury, ankle fracture), product malfunctions (hand crush, wrist fracture), slip and falls (knee contusion, wrist fracture), poorly performed blood draws (antecubital pain), and crush injuries (ankle, Achilles tendon).

Among the settlements we have achieved in RSD/CRPS cases are: $2,500,000 for a (AL) slip and fall case involving a woman who developed RSD after suffering a broken wrist, $1,300,000 for a (FL) case where a woman developed RSD after an improperly performed blood draw, and $800,000 for a (TN) woman who developed RSD after suffering a bruised knee due to a slip and fall in a grocery store. ...Read More

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