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Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Lawyer

reflex sympathetic dystrophy

Complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, is a neuropathic disorder that may affect the lower or upper extremities. Two subtypes of CRPS often occur after trauma and are distinguished by the presence of an injury causing damage to the nerves in an affected limb. Type I, once called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), develops without nerve injury. Type II, formerly known as causalgia, involves definite nerve trauma. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, more than 90 percent of CRPS cases are classified as Type I, with damage specifically affecting the thinnest autonomic and sensory nerve fibers. While the cause of complex regional pain syndrome is poorly understood, it is believed to result from an abnormality or injury to the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Type I CRPS, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy, may occur after a forceful upper or lower extremity trauma. If you developed RSD in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, call (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice from our California personal injury attorneys.

Since 1982, the team of personal injury lawyers at AutoAccident.com has represented many people who have been hurt in accidents through no fault of their own. We have the experience, skills, and resources to build a strong case on your behalf and work toward a favorable resolution. If you want to discuss your case with an attorney with years of experience handling reflex sympathetic dystrophy cases, look no further. Our legal team is here to answer any questions about California’s personal injury claims process and is available anytime to provide free, friendly case advice. Call us today to set up a free consultation with one of our accident lawyers to go over the specifics of your RSD case and learn how we can help you through this difficult time.

What are the Symptoms of CRPS?

While reflex sympathetic dystrophy (an older term used to describe a type I CRPS) and causalgia (also known as type II CRPS) occur from different causes, they both have similar signs and symptoms. These include:

  • Alterations in the texture of the skin that may become shiny, thin, or tender in the affected areas
  • Changes in the growth of the nails and hair
  • Damage, swelling, and stiffness in the affected joint
  • Temperature changes in the skin and alternating between cold and sweaty

The symptoms of CRPS and its subtypes may change over time and differ in severity from individual to individual. Aside from its source, it may also occur elsewhere in the body, including an opposite limb. While the signs and symptoms of this neuropathic pain disorder may subside on their own, others may find that they last for months or even years.

What Causes RSD?

The exact cause of type I CRPS, formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and type II CRPS, also known as causalgia, is unknown. However, both are linked to disease or injury. It most often follows trauma such as amputation or bone fracture but has been found to occur after minor injury. One theory behind this medical condition is an overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system that may affect the affected area’s sweat glands and blood flow. Symptoms may manifest following surgical intervention or trauma. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (OrthoInfo), other causes may include heart attack, stroke, issues with the neck, cancer, infection, and pressure on a nerve. In some rare cases, the condition may develop without any apparent cause.

How is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Diagnosed?

After a physician discusses the medical history and symptoms with a patient, they will thoroughly examine the affected limb. Those presenting with RSD may experience severe pain even with a light touch and are often overprotective over the affected extremity. There may also be a change in the texture, temperature, and appearance of the skin in the affected area. While no single diagnostic imaging technique may diagnose this medical condition, some may help a physician determine a diagnosis. These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone scans, and X-rays. It is essential to seek immediate treatment when experiencing symptoms of RSD to prevent its development into later stages.

How is RSD Treated?

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing patients presenting with RSD from developing stage 3 CRPS. This stage may involve permanent changes, such as difficulty moving the affected limb from severe pain. While there is no cure for CRPS, treatment of this medical condition is most effective when initiated early and focuses on symptom relief, slowed progression into later stages, and assisting patients in how to deal with the pain. Favorable outcomes are often achieved through a team approach, including:

  • Non-Surgical Management: The symptoms of CRPS may be managed through several types of prescription drugs and over-the-counter pain medications. Prescriptions may include medications for blood pressure and slowing or preventing bone density loss. Occupational or physical therapy is essential for moving and exercising the affected limb to prevent muscle tissue loss and maintain flexibility. Some alternative treatments for RSD may include chiropractic care, acupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Surgical Intervention: Patients who do not benefit from non-surgical management for reflex sympathetic dystrophy may be a candidate for surgery to help manage their symptoms. This may include the implantation of a pain pump near the abdomen responsible for delivering pain medication to the spinal cord. The other option may be a spinal cord stimulator. This involves the implantation of small electrodes along the spine where they will deliver electrical impulses described as minor to the affected nerves.

In addition to non-surgical treatment and surgical intervention, patients with RSD may benefit from counseling and psychological evaluation to combat the anxiety and depression that may arise with this medical condition. Patients must discuss these options with their physician and determine which is appropriate for their condition.

What are the Possible Complications of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy?

With a health condition such as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (now known as type I CRPS), a patient needs to seek immediate medical care to avoid complications, learn how to cope with chronic pain, and get guidance on how to lead a healthier life. If RSD is not diagnosed and treated immediately, the condition may progress to later stages that are more debilitating. This may include atrophy, a deterioration, and weakening of the muscles, bones, and skin from avoiding or difficulty moving an affected limb because of stiffness and pain. A patient with RSD may also experience contracture, a tightening of the muscles that may progress into the toes and foot or the fingers and hand contracting into a fixed position.

Importance of Seeking Medical Treatment After an Accident

After suffering a traumatic injury in an accident, such as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (now known as CRPS 1), it may be challenging to navigate the legal process. That is because the insurance company representing the other side or even the claimant’s insurer may question the injury as its cause is not entirely understood. That is why an injured party should seek immediate medical care for prompt diagnosis and treatment to document RSD and prevent it from developing into later stages, such as stage 3 CRPS. The more evidence used to support a bodily injury claim, the better standing an injured party will have against the various defense tactics used by the other side.

Failure to get treated right away may cause more harm than good in the long run, particularly in a personal injury claim. This is because the claims adjuster and defense counsel may argue that the injured party is not as badly hurt as they say they are because of delayed medical treatment for reflex sympathetic dystrophy. To avoid this from happening in your accident case, you must get checked out immediately after a crash and follow up with your physician after an RSD diagnosis. Not following orders from the treating physician and allowing gaps in treatment may cause the other side to devalue or deny the bodily injury claim.

What Types of Damages May Be Recovered in an RSD Case?

With a painful neuropathic disorder like reflex sympathetic dystrophy comes the potential for emotional, physical, and financial hardship. When the condition occurred because of an injury suffered in an accident caused by a negligent individual or entity, the injured party may seek monetary relief through a bodily injury claim. This type of case is generally brought against a negligent party and their insurance company for the recovery of economic damages and non-economic damages. The former represents financial losses that have resulted from accident-related injuries, such as medical bills, wage loss, out-of-pocket expenses related to the incident, and more. The latter considers intangible harms like diminished quality of life, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.

Given that CRPS has acute and chronic stages, an injured party must retain legal counsel immediately. Those with this condition may experience severe pain that may interfere with their lifestyle and ability to work. To make matters worse, mounting medical expenses may also occur, particularly in the chronic stage of this medical condition. That is why hiring an experienced reflex sympathetic dystrophy lawyer is essential to protect your rights and interests throughout the legal process. You cannot depend on the other side to do what is suitable for you and your accident case, and your RSD attorney will ensure you are fairly compensated for the undue harm you have experienced. Watch this video on how to find the best personal injury lawyer to handle your case.

Is There a Time Limit on Personal Injury Claims in California?

In most personal injury lawsuits, claimants have two years from the date of the incident to file in civil court. This is by the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1. Exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations are rare, but there are a few special situations when the filing deadline is shortened or tolled. In a case involving negligent actions on the part of a government entity, a notice of action must be brought no later than 180 days from the accident date, as stated in the California Government Code Section 911.2. In a personal injury case involving a minor child, the statute of limitations may be tolled or paused until they reach 18.

Bodily injury claims are often challenging, and determining what time limits apply may be difficult. To make matters even more overwhelming, failure to meet the statute of limitations may result in the court’s dismissal of the case and the loss of the right to seek financial compensation. An injured party’s best course of action in such situations is to retain legal counsel immediately to understand their rights and options for recovery before their right to seek compensatory damages expires.

Is Hiring a Lawyer for an Accident Case Expensive?

One of the first questions that may come to mind for those injured in a recent crash is whether to retain legal counsel. The expense of legal representation is the top reason some injured parties may be reluctant to hire an accident attorney. Most people are overwhelmed by mounting medical costs and time lost from work to recover from severe injuries like reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Adding high hourly rates and retainer fees to the equation may discourage them from seeking legal assistance for their RSD case.

Many may not know that most lawyers, such as ours at AutoAccident.com, handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. Under this agreement, there are no upfront costs to retaining legal counsel, and attorneys’ fees will only be due if a successful resolution is obtained on behalf of the client. Contingency fee arrangements work for a client’s best interest as they may be able to seek legal representation without having to worry about their finances. This will allow the client to focus on recovering from their injuries and rebuilding their life, all while their RSD attorney handles all aspects of their personal injury case.

Contact a Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Attorney Today

Type I CRPS is a debilitating medical condition whose exact cause is unclear. When this condition occurs because of an accident caused by the negligent actions of another person or entity, an experienced reflex sympathetic dystrophy lawyer should be contacted immediately. The insurance company is concerned with protecting its bottom line, and that will often come at the expense of parties injured in accidents, just like you. That is why immediate and active involvement by legal counsel is necessary to assist an injured party with their RSD case.

Founder and California personal injury lawyer Edward A. Smith established our law firm in 1982, dedicated to helping injured people get their lives back on track after a severe accident. Our team of experienced injury attorneys is committed to advocating for our clients, protecting their rights, and working toward a favorable resolution that they need to put the tragic incident behind them. If you have suffered a traumatic injury such as RSD in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, contact our legal team today to schedule a meeting with one of our skilled lawyers at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are available anytime to discuss your reflex sympathetic dystrophy case and provide free, friendly advice on moving forward in your situation.

Editor’s Note: Updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.15.23]

Photograph Source: By Pexels User “AneteLusina

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