Hand & Wrist Care

Dr. Henry Backe is an integral part of the Orthopaedic Specialty
Group, P. C. team for over 25 years. Dr. Backe’s exceptional surgical skills are complemented by a personable style and dedication to the highest quality patient outcomes and satisfaction. He is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon and is fellowship trained in the area of hand and wrist and joint replacement.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Hand & Wrist Specialist In The Greater Fairfield & Shelton Connecticut Areas

Dr. Backe of Orthopedic Specialty Group P.C., is a specially-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand and wrist conditions and injuries. He treats hand and wrist injuries at his offices in Fairfield and Shelton, Connecticut. His patients receive a unique treatment plan matching their lifestyle and return-to-work goals. Dr. Backe offers innovative and less-invasive treatment options and state-of-the-art technologies that benefit his patients in many ways.

FAQs on Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a condition of intense burning pain, stiffness, swelling, and discoloration that most often affects the hand.

Arms, legs, and feet can also be affected by CRPS.

This condition was previously known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, Sudeck’s atrophy, shoulder-hand syndrome, or causalgia.


Although the two types of CRPS can be tied to injury or illness, the exact cause of CRPS is unknown.

One theory is that a “short circuit” in the nervous system is responsible. This “short circuit” causes overactivity of the sympathetic (unconscious) nervous system which affects blood flow and sweat glands in the affected area.

Symptoms most commonly occur after injury or surgery.

Other causes include pressure on a nerve, infection, cancer, neck problems, stroke, or heart attack.


Symptoms most commonly occur after injury or surgery. Other causes include pressure on a nerve, infection, cancer, neck problems, stroke, or heart attack.


After discussing your medical history and symptoms, Dr. Backe will carefully examine your hand or affected limb.

People with CRPS are unusually protective of the involved limb. Even a light touch may evoke expressions of severe pain.


Early diagnosis and treatment are important in order to prevent CRPS from developing into the later stages.

It is also important that these patients not be told that the pain is “in their heads.” CRPS is a physiological condition. Even though it is not fully understood, CRPS is treatable.

Nonsurgical Treatment


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral corticosteroids, anti-depressants, blood pressure medications, anti-convulsants, and opioid analgesics are medications recommended to relieve symptoms.

Injection therapy

Injecting an anesthetic (numbing medicine) near the affected sympathetic nerves can reduce symptoms. This is usually recommended early in the course of CRPS in order to avoid progression to the later stages.


Active exercise that emphasizes normal use of the affected limb is essential to permanent relief of this condition. Physical and/or occupational therapy are important in helping patients regain normal use patterns. Medications and other treatment options can reduce pain, allowing the patient to engage in active exercise.

Surgical Treatment

If nonsurgical treatment fails, there are surgical procedures that may help reduce symptoms.

Spinal cord stimulator

Tiny electrodes are implanted along your spine and deliver mild electric impulses to the affected nerves.

Pain pump implantation

A small device that delivers pain medication to the spinal cord is implanted near the abdomen.