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My boyfreind’s granny had a stroke and after that she started having problems with her arms. They would become stiff, and they would swell. His parents took her to a hospital and she was diagnosed with something called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. My boyfriend is very attached to his grandmother as he had spent his childhood with her and he is very worried. We would both like to know more about this disorder. Is there anybody who could help us? Thank you in advance!

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Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), is a condition of burning pain, stiffness, swelling, and discoloration of the hand. RSD occurs from a disturbance in the sympathetic (unconscious) nervous system that controls the blood flow and sweat glands in the hand and arm. When the nervous system becomes overactive, burning pain is felt and swelling and warmth are left in the affected arm. If not treated, RSD can cause stiffness and loss of use of the affected part of the arm. Sometimes, the cause of RSD is unknown. Often an injury can cause RSD, or the symptoms may appear after a surgery. Other causes include pressure on a nerve, infection, cancer, neck disorders, stroke, or heart attack.
Three forms of treatment may be combined: medication, physical therapy, and surgery. Medication taken by mouth can help decrease the symptoms. Therapy is important to regain function and reduce discomfort caused by RSD. Successful treatment depends on the patient's effort in therapy. Surgery is sometimes performed in the later stages, but patients often don’t benefit from it.
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