Algodystrophy: the symptoms

The main symptom of algodystrophy (complex regional pain syndrome) is, at the beginning, a pain that sets in suddenly, with slings, tingling, tingling ...

Present at rest, the pain often increases when one touches the articulation, when one moves it, or thanks to emotions, noises or variations of temperature.

The limb or joint loses its vigor and mobility, takes on an inflamed appearance with edema, red and moist skin.

Cramps can also appear, locally sweating, and stiffness of the affected limb.

The affected area becomes slightly swollen, hot, sometimes with tingling, burning and pain.

The intensity of the pains is variable but aggravated by the movements. This stage lasts about three months, sometimes less, sometimes more. And in some people the symptoms can evolve.

The pain can get worse and at the same time become more diffuse. The edema diminishes, the limb is often cold and weakens while the skin becomes pale or bluish and thin. It can be oozing, greasy or on the contrary become dry and then begins to retract.

Nails can also be damaged and hairs fall. The joint can be stiffened gradually. In these severe forms, if no treatment is undertaken, the pain persists and can spread to the whole limb, with a risk of muscle atrophy.

These different stages of dystrophy that doctors describe as "hot" and then "cold" are not systematic. Patients can immediately have signs of dryness and pale skin, without redness or inflammation before. Then things will return to order and the pain will gradually disappear. But it happens - fortunately it is rare - that things get worse, and then irreversible retractions of the skin and tendons occur.

There are several stages involved in the development of the disease. However, each individual reacts personally and has symptoms and changes that may vary.


Signs of bone demineralization can be seen by performing bone radiology.

Other examinations are sometimes performed: a bone scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) especially in case of damage to the hip or knee.

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