Although the incidence of RSD / CRPS is unknown, RSD is not a rare problem. The condition is believed to occur primarily in females with a predominance of 2:1 to 3:1 over males. Although the disease may be caused by major trauma, it often results from an injury that is minimal in nature or even unknown. In approximately 1/3 of patients, no known cause or trauma can be identified. Risk factors for the development of RSD / CRPS include immobilization, smoking, genetics, and psychological factors.
Pain is the initial manifestation of RSD and typically occurs within several weeks after the injury. Characteristically, the pain is severe and progressive, spreading throughout the affected extremity. The pain distribution is typically widespread and does not fit a specific nerve pattern. Because of the non-specific pain distribution and the degree of pain being so out of proportion to the injury, patients with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy are often given erroneous diagnoses of hysteria or malingering. This is especially true when the patient has a worker’s compensation or personal injury lawsuit that has arisen out of the original injury.
The pain involved with RSD / CRPS is typically described as a burning, aching, or throbbing pain and is typically worsened by exposure to cold weather or water. The affected region often undergoes changes in temperature, coloration, and nail formation if the affected region involves the hands or feet. In addition to the abnormalities in the appearance of the affected limb, the function of the involved extremity is affected by both pain and motor dysfunction.
There is often sensory abnormalities, reduced range of motion, edema (tissue swelling), and excessive sweating in the affected limb. Several different types of movement disturbances can occur including problems initiating movement, weakness, and muscle spasms. In addition, more dramatic movement disorders such as tremors and distonia (prolonged contraction of the extremity) may also occur.
The combination of unrelenting pain, physical impairment, spasm, and motor dysfunction can cause serious impairment of a patient’s personal, social, emotional, and work lives. The unrelenting pain may not respond to medical treatment and can lead to family disruption, job loss, and a severely diminished quality of life. Combining these factors with physician disbelief or an erroneous diagnosis of malingering can be catastrophic to the patient.
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