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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1996 Mar;40(3):364-7.

Treatment of acute reflex sympathetic dystrophy with DMSO 50% in a fatty cream.

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Department of Anaesthesiology, Free University Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Acute Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (acute RSD) was defined using a reproducible classification. Elevated temperature of the affected extremity ("calor"), measured by the dorsal side of the observer's hand and mentioned by the patient, pain ("dolor") measured by the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), redness ("rubor"), edema ("tumor") and limited active range of motion ("functio laesa"), all contributed to the classification system. Patients scoring 4 to 5 positive symptoms were considered to have acute RSD. A prospective, randomized and double blind study was performed in 32 patients, all suffering from acute RSD. In all of these patients the primary injury was the result of a previous accident. One patient was taken out of the study because of his surgery. The study involved treatment with a fatty cream with 50% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, group A), or without DMSO (placebo, group B), both for 2 months. All patients received physiotherapy applied within pain limits. Application of the creams resulted in both groups in an improvement of RSD-scores and VAS-scores after 2 months. However, the improvement of the RSD score in patients of group A (DMSO-group) was significantly (P < 0.01) better compared to group B. The results suggest a certain activity of DMSO 50% cream in patients suffering from RSD and is, therefore, recommendable.

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