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Algodystrophy (or algoneurodystrophy) is characterized by joint pain following a trauma suffered by the joint in question. It is a highly debilitating disease, as it is very painful and difficult to treat. It mainly affects people between 35 and 65, but can also affect other age groups.
This type of disease usually occurs after a physical shock, such as a sprained ligament or surgical intervention, but remains completely unpredictable as it can also occur for no apparent reason.


Algodystrophy is characterized by:
  • widespread pain and sometimes deep-set burning or discharge;
  • functional impairment (decreased movement or inability to use the concerned area, mainly because of the pain it causes);
  • a very slow and spontaneous improvement, however progressive and generally leaving no sequelae.


The diagnosis of algodystrophy is difficult, and it is usually done by elimination, that is to say, after excluding other diagnoses potentially causing the same symptoms. Clinical signs are rarely significant enough to help establish a firm diagnosis. Additional tests are a good indication, but not sufficient either.
We can finally diagnose when sufficient evidence is found such as:
  • a history of trauma or operations;
  • a heightened and persistent pain in reaction to the same light stimulation;
  • joint stiffness with reduced range of motion (with muscle fatigue present in 50% of cases);
  • demineralization demonstrated on bone scan or advanced stages of osteoporosis visible on an x-ray.


For the best results it is imperative to start treatment quickly.
The treatments used to fight against dystrophy are designed especially to fight against pain. These are:
  • analgesics;
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • physiotherapy and occupational therapy;
  • spa therapy;
  • alternative methods may have beneficial effects: physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic ...


It is not possible to prevent and algodystrophy because we do not know its exact causes. However, we know that it tends to disappear spontaneously, usually within two years after its occurrence.
It usually leaves no sequelae except when it lasts longer than two years. In this case there is joint stiffness and muscle weakness, which is sometimes accompanied by pain.

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