Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a disorder that is commonly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, Sudeck’s Atrophy and causalgia.
RSD is a chronic pain condition that affects the central or peripheral nervous systems that can affect the motion and sensation of the body part that is affected by RSD. RSD was once a rare disease that occurred in individuals with ethnic backgrounds, most commonly in adults that range from the age of 20 to 50 years old, with women who are affected twice as much as their male counterparts. While those with RSD technically don’t qualify for disability benefits, there’s still a way to apply for them.
What are the causes of RSD?
Studies show that RSD occurs after an injury and triggers an immune response from inflammation such as redness or swelling. There are many other triggers that causes RSD from surgery, shoulder problems, diabetes, cancer, infection and brain diseases. RSD usually affects the arm, leg, hand or foot and cause continuous, intense pain.
Experts suggest that RSD’s symptoms occur in 3 stages starting with the skin, muscles, joints, and ligaments until it finally progresses to the bones of the area. Other symptoms associated with RSD are burning pain, skin sensitivity, skin color temperature and texture changes, stiffness, decreased mobility of the affected extremity, and changes in growth of nails and pattern of hair. Pain can spread wide over the body and emotional stress causes these pains to worsen. In order to be diagnosed with RSD, a healthcare physician looks at the patient’s clinical history for any symptoms that resemble RSD. Many of the symptoms of RSD resemble other conditions so X-rays are taken to check for thinning bones and nuclear bone scans are done to look at the characteristic patterns.
When RSD is treated in its early stages, the condition can be managed. With early detection and treatment, symptom relief is known to occur within 18 months. Unfortunately, individuals who have not been treated for RSD early can rapidly progress and can lead to disability and debilitation. A pain specialist should partner with the primary psychian to create a treatment plan efficiently. Treatments for RSD are more focused on relieving the pain. Treatment options include physical therapy, exercise, spinal cord stimulation, medications such as morphine, antidepressants, creams, and Enbrel. There are clinics like the National Institute Of Neurological Disorders and Stroke that are conducting studies to gain knowledge of the nervous systems and brain to reduce neurological diseases like RSD.
Social Security Disability
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is not recognized as a condition that is disabling according to the Social Security Administration or SSA, but that does not disqualify the possibility of receiving Social Security Disability or SSD benefits. In order to obtain SSD, proof must be shown that the RSD prevents employment. An application for SSD should be completed and submitted. SSA will then review the application and examine the residual functional capacity to determine if the patient qualifies for medical vocational allowance. Along with that, documentation will need to be provided by the patient and physician, SSA will review medical records, and review the patient’s employment qualification such as skills, work history and education. SSA will also look at the mental and psychological effects that RSD has caused since chronic pain has been linked to anxiety and depression. The SSA will then determine the residual functional capacity rating and if the patient is able or unable to perform job duties.
Medical records play a viable role in the SSD application. Providing documents that explain and substantiate your claims of debilitating symptoms should be included. These documents should include diagnostic tests that date back to the diagnosis of RSD, documents that demonstrate the symptoms and pain worsening, detailed statements from the physician, neurological exams that documents any damage to strength or nerves, imaging exams such as X-rays that show the effects of the disease, blood flow and muscles loss. And finally, the application can show records of any mental health issues that are linked to the RSD disease.
Since reflex sympathetic dystrophy is not considered a condition that is diabiliting to the SSA, an attorney or a disability advocate can assist with the application process of filing and obtaining the required documentation to submit to the SSA. Applicants that file disability with RSD are commonly denied and an attorney can assist with appealing the denial of the filed application.
Living with RSD can affect the patient in many ways to the point that normal daily activities are almost impossible. With treatment from a physician and pain specialist, the chronic pain from RSD can be managed and controlled. Individuals whose RSD has progressed past managing the pain should seek SSD benefits or disability benefits. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms or have been diagnosed with RSD, consult with your physicians so that the best method of care is provided. Then talk to us at Daniel Berger Law Offices to see if SSD is an option that you should take.