A workers’ compensation claim for reflex sympathetic dystrophy may not be easy to prove.
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a painful and debilitating condition affecting many Americans. Approximately 10-20 percent of RSD sufferers cannot pinpoint a clear cause of their condition, but others develop the condition as a result of a work-related accident or injury. RSD can be difficult and expensive to treat. However, injured workers can ease their financial burden by filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
RSD is a multi-symptom syndrome that affects the body’s extremities. RSD can impair virtually any body part necessitating extensive rehabilitation. Sufferers of RSD are often never able to recover completely. Medical experts believe that RSD is usually triggered by an injury to a soft tissue or nerve that does not heal normally. Statistics show that 2-5 percent of people who suffer some kind of peripheral nerve injury and 12-21 percent of individuals who suffer partial paralysis after an accident develop RSD.
Many types of workplace accidents and even minor work-related injuries can lead to RSD. Other factors that are associated with RSD include trauma, heart attack or heart disease, cerebral lesions, repetitive motion disorder, cervical spine or spinal cord disorders, infections, and surgery. In the absence of timely treatment, RSD can spread and lead to chronic pain, deformities, psychiatric and psychological problems including substance abuse.
Symptoms of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
- skin changes
- movement disorder
- bone changes
In mild cases, the symptoms may last for weeks followed by a period of remission. In many cases, the pain may last for years.
Diagnosis of RSD
Each RSD patient experiences different symptoms. Before diagnosing RSD, doctors often rule out other life threatening conditions that mimic the symptoms of RSD including blood clots, heart attacks, carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated discs, or breast tumors that have spread to the lymph nodes. A serious type of nerve damage that is associated with the development of RSD is known as causalgia, which is characterized by weakness and numbness in affected areas. The diagnosis of RSD can be made when the patient experiences any of the following symptoms in addition to severe pain:
- changes in tissue growth
- movement disorder
- abnormal function of the sympathetic nervous system
The pain and other symptoms of RSD are usually severe both in terms of duration and magnitude. It is important that there are objective findings to support the diagnosis when an injured worker makes a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The insurance company may accuse the injured worker of faking the condition in absence of any concrete findings.
Workers’ Compensation for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
A workers’ compensation claim for RSD may not be easy to prove. Consult with a St. Louis injured at work lawyer for legal guidance. Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300 for a free consultation.