Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy: Incidence and Epidemiology

  • Stephen E. Abram
Part of the Current Management of Pain book series (CUMP, volume 7)


There is relatively little information available regarding the overall incidence of causalgia and reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) in the general population. Carron and Weller (1) reported that they documented 128 patients, who met rigid criteria for RSD among 1156 pain clinic patients (10.7%) treated over a 22-month period. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine the population base from which those patients came. Sixty-three percent of those patients had upper extremity involvement. We diagnosed RSD in 41 of 653 patients (6.3%) admitted to the Medical College of Wisconsin Pain Clinic (unpublished data). Seventy-three percent of those cases occurred in the upper extremity. Other series also show a tendency for the syndrome to occur in the upper extremity, at least in adult patients (2,3). Bonica (4) reported that two thirds of cases of causalgia (associated with major nerve trunk injury) involved the upper extremity.


Brachial Plexus Peripheral Nerve Injury Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Antecedent Trauma Carpal Tunnel Surgery 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

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  • Stephen E. Abram

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