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Natural Treatment Options for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

written by: efrontiers • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 3/12/2011

The treatment of reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD is often multidisciplinary. In this connection, most doctors recommend various forms of natural treatment for reflex sympathetic dystrophy for the maximum efficacy of the treatment plan.

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    Some of the natural treatments for reflex sympathetic dystrophy that are proven to be successful include hyperbaric oxygenation therapy, holistic and homeopathic treatments, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

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    The Problem with Conventional Treatment

    There are different treatment options that are available to treat reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD. But with the unpredictable history of this condition and the unknown pathogenesis, evidence-based treatment guidelines cannot be established. Hence, the treatment of the problem largely depends on the decision of the physician’s specialty.

    One point remains to be agreed upon by medical experts handling such condition. Due to the fact that the causes, symptoms and intensity of the disease are different from patient to patient, higher chances of success can be achieved when different treatment options are employed to manage the pain and symptoms.

    The management of pain and physiotherapy remains the cornerstone of convention treatment plan of reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The conventional treatments used in majority of the patients include topical analgesics, antidepressants and sympathetic nerve blocks. To complement these treatment options, doctors even suggest the following natural treatment option to manage the pain from RSD.

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    Hyperbaric Oxygenation Therapy

    Hyperbaric oxygenation therapy (HBOT) is one of the natural treatment options for people with RSD, also called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

    Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is a neurological disorder but the manifestations are physical symptoms. With HBOT, the disease is treated with two approaches. The first approach is to restore circulation, minimize the inflammation or edema, and eliminate the swelling in the affected limbs. On the other hand, the second approach is to work on the brain to eliminate the disease itself. The Food and Drug Administration has approved this form of therapy for only 14 clinical conditions, including RSD. It should be noted however that you need to find a free-standing specialty medical clinic to perform the therapy sessions.

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    Holistic and Homeopathic Treatments

    For the reason that the treatment plan for RSD is normally multi-disciplinary, a lot of doctors recommend that their patients try holistic and homeopathic treatments to manage the pain from the condition.

    The effective alternative treatments include lymphatic massage, acupuncture and acupressure, herbal medicines and nutritional supplements. Lymphatic massage can help relax the nervous system without blood flow stimulation. Acupuncture and acupressure are also ancient practices proven to relieve pain. Lastly, herbal medicines and nutritional supplements can help regulate the immune system and provide pain relief.

    These natural options are especially best during the early stages of RSD. It should also serve as complementary therapies to conventional medicines and should be properly guided by one’s doctor.

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    Occupational Therapy

    Occupational therapy (OT) is an ideal treatment for the restoration process. Occupational therapy of RSD targets to normalize the sensation, promote the normal positioning and decrease muscle guarding. It likewise tries to minimize edema and increase functional use of the affected extremity. Occupational therapy is usually prescribed with physical therapy for optimum success.

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    Physical Therapy

    Physical therapy (PT) has a critical role in the functional restoration of the affected area by RSD. The usual PT activities are designed to complement the treatment activities involved in occupational, recreational and vocational therapies. The therapy hopes to help patients increase their range of motion, flexibility, and later strength through sets of gentle but progressive exercise programs.

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    Conclusion

    In conclusion, these options of natural treatment for reflex sympathetic dystrophy should serve as complementary treatments to conventional forms of treatment. The choice will basically depend on various factors such as severity of the problem, availability, budget and other factors. It is strongly advised that you always seek the approval of your specialist before committing to any of these natural methods.