Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) is a chronic pain condition that affects the sympathetic nervous system. It is often associated with a sensitivity to light touches. It also can include swelling, skin color and temperature changes, weakness, abnormal swearing patterns and depression. The syndrome tends to impact a specific area on a person’s body such as their arm or back. The disorder is progressive and tends to get worse without RSD treatment.
One RSD treatment modality involves the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Patients receiving hyperbaric oxygen treatments are exposed to medical oxygen at a much higher percentage that is available to them at normal atmospheric pressure. These chambers can immerse patients in up to 100% total oxygen. By making more oxygen available to the different tissues in the body, they are able to get therapeutic benefits from the therapy.
For many patients with RSD, the cause may never be identified. Some doctors point to an abnormal stimulation, irritation and excitation of the sympathetic nervous system. It has been said that parts of a person’s brain, their involuntary nervous system and peripheral nerves all play a role in the development of RSD.
Patients who receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy for RSD treatment, they often find they experience a reduction of pain level and swelling. The increased amount of oxygen that is provided by hyperbaric oxygen treatment centers helps with healing in both the brain and the limbs that may be affected by RSD. By reducing the swelling the affected areas are better able to experience healing through the oxygen and increased blood flow to the area. This kind of treatment can also be very effective at helping prevent fibrous tissues from developing, which are often a big cause of pain for RSD sufferers.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for RSD treatment is often used as a supplemental treatment for the management of their chronic and severe pain. When RSD sufferers receive the treatment alongside more traditional pain management modalities, they often see an increase in muscle tone, which is another way the treatment helps reduce the amount of pain they experience. They also report sleeping better, lower stress levels, reduced depression symptoms and they are able to think a lot clearly after they undergo a few RSD treatment sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. They also report being more able to deal with and follow normal daily routines that had been difficult due to their high pain levens.
Chronic and constant pain has been shown to cause changes in a person’s brain chemistry. People who suffer from chronic pain report higher levels of anxiety, depression, insomnia, financial stress due to medical bills, memory problems and poor concentration, headaches, gastroenterological problems and higher blood pressure. People with chronic pain are at a higher risk for addiction to pain medication such as opiates. For some, being in chronic pain robs them of their will to live and their direction in life. It is hard to overstate the negative impact severe chronic pain has on people’s lives.
People who suffer from RSD may feel hopeless. For many, the disorder has no known cause and there is no official cure. Anyone who has experienced severe, chronic pain will tell you that the prescription drugs given by most doctors are far from ideal. Many people report unpleasant side effects such as itching, drowsiness, constipation and an altered mental state when they take opiates such as Vicodin and Percocet. Increasingly, people in serious pain are having problems getting these pain medications as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issues stronger guidelines for their use. Doctors around the country are often hesitant to prescribe these for even people in really bad pain.
Hyperbaric therapy for RSD treatment can provide people who suffer from this disorder some hope at real healing and relief from the pain. Hope is a powerful tool when combating chronic pain disorders such as RSD. It is much too easy for people who experience pain on a daily basis to lose any hope that it will get any better. When the pain medications do not work, it is hard to trust any new treatment options. Luckily, enough patients with RSD are seeing real benefits from hyperbaric oxygen treatments to give hope to others.