A review of the autonomic nervous system and exploration of diagnoses associated with reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
The hand therapy literature about reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) tends to discuss this phenomenon in terms of traumatic hand or upper-extremity injury etiology. Hand therapists' bibliographies run the risk of being inbred and delimited to orthopedic and neurologic sources. Nonetheless, this well-developed body of knowledge identifies cardinal signs and symptoms, stages, and clinical types of RSD. Therapy guidelines have been well detailed in accordance with pathophysiologic explanations. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), to briefly consider the history of the term "sympathetic," and to explore familiar and less well-known predisposing events and associated diagnoses. Appreciating the gamut of diagnoses associated with RSD may promote additional opportunities for hand therapist collaboration in the care for this complicated and challenging diagnostic group.