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Need help with RSD


I have a friend who has RSD. It is affecting his right arm and shoulder which is red, has a burning sensation and pain. All fingers except the index finger are numb. His right arm is now smaller from lack of use. He also gets headaches that start at the base of his neck and move up and over to his forehead. He was injured in a 7 ft fall from a step ladder and landed on that right arm. He is being treated by medical doctors but the drugs he's being given haven't really helped much. Can you give me a place to start with him? Which meridians and points would be best based on this information? Thank you for any information you can give me.


Even though you don't specify here, I seem to remember from the email you sent with the same question that you are inquiring about acupressure not acupuncture - is this correct?

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD), also know as complex regional pain syndrome, often arises after an injury particularly it seems from those effecting the neck and/or upper back. While the condition can come out of the blue and can effect all areas, at least in my experience it seems to tie in with other traumas (even minor ones) and be focused or even limited to the upper body - arms in particular. The Tom Tam Healing System treatment page for RSD is here. Within that page you will find the points we most commonly use for this condition. For acupuncture you would add others related to the persons overall pattern but these would suffice for acupressure. The treatment goal from the Tam Healing perspective is to balance the motor and sensory cortex of the brain, balance the sympathetic nervous system and then work on points which effect the circulation to the arms and hands and to reduce the heat and swelling systemically. The points and their usages are indicated in the article referenced above. If you have any more detailed questions, please ask. Also, please keep us updated on his progress.

From my experience the condition is very treatable particularly in cases that start with a trauma.


Chad, ty for responding so quickly. Yes, it is acupressure I'm most interested in for the RSD friend. I plan to give him detailed info on points and their locations and reasons why certain points are being used if necessary so he can do it himself till I can get down to see him and give him a full treatment session myself. I would prefer, of course, to send him to either an acupressurist or acupuncturist in the mean time but his injury is work-related and therefore, not approved by workman's comp for payment and he's not bringing in enough money for him to get regular sessions. He is extremely motivated with my suggestion of accupressure points. His injury occurred 2 years ago and I didn't find out about it till more recently. Again, ty for the information you provided. I will keep in touch with you and as need arises will ask more questions:)



Thank you for such a great forum. I just wanted to add some content to this topic. I have a close friend who fell about 7 ft. from a ladder as well. She landed on her heel and shattered her foot. She has undergone multiple surgeries to restore her foot function. She has a severe form of RSD that has the potential to put her in a wheel chair. So what you say about it affecting the upper body only is not exactly accurate. Please see the additional information as well:

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also known as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), is a chronic progressive neurological condition that affects skin, muscles, joints, and bones. The syndrome usually develops in an injured limb, such as a broken leg. However, many cases of RSD involve only a minor, seemingly inconsequential injury, such as a sprain. And in some cases, no precipitating event can be identified.Pain may begin in one area or limb and then spread to other limbs. RSD/CRPS is characterized by various degrees of burning pain, excessive sweating, swelling, and sensitivity to touch. Symptoms of RSD/CRPS may recede for years and then reappear with a new injury.Types

Two types of RSD/CRPS have been defined:Type 1 - without nerve injury

Type 2 (formerly called causalgia) - with nerve injury

Both types express the same signs and symptoms.

Since we are now under the microscope more than ever I feel it is important to provide the most accurate information available to increase our credibility as medical providers.

Thanks again for all your great advice and educational information.


To clarify I didn't actually say that the condition will only effect the upper body. My quote from above is "While the condition can come out of the blue and can effect all areas...". And in my clinical experience at least 80% of the cases do effect the upper body. The reasoning for this is obvious, the neck, wrist, hands, etc. are far more vulnerable to the type of trauma that may lead to RSD. Simple falls, etc. can lead to RSD where to cause this type of trauma to an ankle, foot, etc. would usually require a random trauma or vehicle accident like your friend had had.

Secondly, the information that you presented is actually already on the RSD page that we have within which links to the tam healing and other protocols as they become available are listed.

Finally with regards to, "Since we are now under the microscope more than ever I feel it is important to provide the most accurate information available to increase our credibility as medical providers." Keep in mind that it is actually illegal for us to diagnose and even "treat" specific illnesses. Not only are we not under any particular microscope we also shouldn't act like we are western doctors. Our training between the two systems is entirely different and there are great advantages and knowledge pools in both. My answer then was simply to respond to the question at hand, provide what we normally do, with the appropriate caveat that the persons pattern from a tcm pattern should also be regarded within treatment. An encyclopedic answer to the question at hand provides no necessary information to a person wanting to know specific acupressure points for the condition. Nor does it provide any information relevant to someone reading our -acupuncture- forums and wanting to treat the condition with acupuncture. While it is good to provide this information (and it is in fact already on the site), it is not necessary or even relevant to provide this within every answer to every question.


Hi Chad,

I have a patient who developed RSD after having broken her foot. She is an elderly lady who lives by herself and I would really like to help her to stay independent for as long as possible. I read the Tom Tam Healing System treatment page for RSD and noticed that apart from SP6 all treatment points are situated in the upper body.

Can you advise me if treating these point would be enough in her case or would you advise to treat additional area's because of the pains in her lower body.

Can an additional diet be of any support/use to the treatment?

Thanks a lot,



Yes all of the upper points are fine as they are focused on the brain portion of the condition (the main part in our opinion) and the location of the symptoms is less relevant (again from our perspective). The only dietary changes would be to limit things which challenge the immune/nervous system - sugar, soda drinks, caffeine, too much dairy, etc. A general balanced, largely whole foods diet is the best.


I was diagnosed with RSD 5 years ago. I broke my left patella and had nerve damage to my kneecap to my left foot. Finally after 9 months of spinal injections and excessive therapy I was able to walk again. I was finally able to rebuild my life and get off all my medication. Then I had a fall in December 2010 and now the RSD has come back. In addition, I have been experiencing coughing up blood (hemoptysis) over the past 6 months. Can RSD have a symptom of hemoptysis?


There are 2 patterns of cough blood in TCM, fire heat to lung or lung yin deficiency, those will basic on your body&#39s energy condition. RSD may change your body energy condition and cause 1 of those 2 pattern&#39s situation happen.


No coughing up blood would not be a symptom of RSD. Hemoptysis can be somewhat benign (dry environment, etc.) over short periods, but if it extends and/or is extensive it generally indicates something fairly serious. You should consult directly with an MD sooner rather than later.

As an aside, in the future please start a new thread when you are not commenting directly on the forum question at hand.


My 13yr old daughter was diagnosed with RSD approximately 4 years ago. No specific injury, although she was heavily involved in dance. Within 3 months, she was in a wheelchair. Desensitization Rehabilitation, and entirely too many medications, she left the hospital 8 days later on a walker. She later used the increased mobility in the pool to not require the walker any longer. She remained on one medication untll she went into remission. Lyrica wa s the drug of choice, a pain Specialist in France was able to decrease her medication overload of (2400 mg) Neurontin, along with sleeping meds a few others. and placed her on Lyrica.

Remission lasted for approximately 8 months, and with no specific injury,,symptoms appeared again. She remains off perscriptions however Chiropractic adjustment have now ceased due to increased pain level after adjustments.

Coinciding with RSD is the difficulty to sleep,, several times a week or so she takes Melatonin.

My question is whether Accupressure or Accupuncture would have the same effects as the Chiropractic adjustments? I also am interested in any Circulatory supplements that can be suggested. Or any supplements your can recommend. Our diet is primarily a whole food diet,,we eat no red meat , and few dairy products,, Her pain is bilateral,,hands and feet,,a bad day,,full body.. including her back muscles, head aches have ceased since the Chiropractor visits. Extremeties effected temperature/color change etc. She thankfully in a full flare,,,no longer is oversensitive to touch,,I am assuing due to the desensitization therapy.

Thank You for the opportunity to post~


Two things, one just a forum etiquette rule - please try to post new questions/cases as a new topic instead of replying to other topics. Replies should be limited to direct comments on the question/case at hand...

Finally, RSD is treatable with acupuncture and while I have an obvious bias it is far more systemic than chiropractic. Personally, chiropractic would be low on my list of things to try with RSD for precisely the reason that you are experiencing now, however, there is such a range of techniques is hard to fairly make generalizations. At the least I can confidently say that if you were not seeing improvement after 9 weeks (at the most) you should not continue what you were doing.

So generally my original response above has a link to various points and techniques that we tend to use. My suggestion, however, is to see a fully trained acupuncturist, particularly one that is also trained and actually does tuina. Herbal supplements, even Chinese ones, are generally not very effective in my experience with RSD. Acupuncture and tuina is, however.


Thank You for the response. I agree, Chiropractic care was established to help with the adverse effects of a limp,. Have read the links provided . Thank You.

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