Treatment of reflex sympathetic dystrophy with topical capsaicin. Case report

Pain. 1990 Sep;42(3):307-311. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(90)91143-7.


A 31-year-old woman with intractable reflex sympathetic dystrophy experienced nearly complete, though temporary, resolution of pain following 3 weeks of topical capsaicin. We propose that capsaicin may be a useful treatment for reflex sympathetic dystrophy, either by depleting substance P from primary afferent neurons that mediate allodynia, or by modulating sympathetic efferent activity.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Capsaicin / therapeutic use*
  • Contusions / complications
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Sympathetic
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Nerve Block
  • Palliative Care
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / drug therapy*
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / etiology
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / physiopathology


  • Capsaicin