Physical and occupational therapy can be of benefit to sufferers from RSD as part of an overall team providing pain management.
Occupational therapy can be helpful in address RSD’s impact on a patient’s ability to work, as well as to deal with normal daily activities and to enjoy recreational opportunities. First, the therapist will work with the patient to determine the particular activities that produce an increase in pain levels. This is following by identify alternate methods for achieving those activities in ways that will hopefully minimize any symptomatic worsening. This may include behavior modification and/or equipment that helps the patient adapt to the activities.
Ultimately, this type of occupational therapy can help a patient achieve a new “daily routine” that accomplishes as many of the prior work and life activities as possible, while reducing those activities negative impact on pain symptom levels. This is helpful not only in physical terms, but psychological terms as well, by returning the patient as much normalcy in their daily activities and social interactions as possible.
Physical therapy is a complement to occupational therapy – the physical therapist will help the patient understand how their RSD symptoms are created and exacerbated so that the patient can minimize symptoms and increase physical capacity. This treatment includes setting realistic goals and working with the patient to meet those goals. This is followed by gradual increases in activity designed to re-map the brain and bypass the pain signals being created in the affected limbs.