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Hospital launches new support group for pain sufferers
Hinsdale – A new support group at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital is the first in the area for sufferers of reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), a rare nerve disorder that causes chronic and severe pain.

The group, which meets from 2 to 4 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month, features open discussion and guest speakers who address a variety of topics related to RSDS, including new treatments and medication. Meetings take place in the Lincoln Room at the hospital, 120 N. Oak St., Hinsdale, and are open to family and friends.

“The goal of these support groups is to help people with RSDS, along with their loved ones, learn how to live with the pain and find hope and encouragement,” said Dr. Ahmed Elborno, medical director of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital’s Pain Management Center of Excellence.

RSDS causes abnormal responses in portions of the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates involuntary functions such as increasing heart rate or blood pressure. Symptoms include burning pain, swollen or inflamed skin and excessive perspiration. An exact cause is not known, but doctors believe the disorder might be linked to nerve injuries, infection and cardiovascular disease, among other aggravating factors.

The disorder, also known as complex regional pain syndrome, often makes itself known by causing a burning pain in the shoulders, hands or arms. It affects an estimated 200,000 to 1.2 million Americans. There is no known cure.

Edwina Schaeffer, executive director of the Illinois RSDS Association Support Group, coordinates the support group at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.

“We help educate our members and their families about their medications, new procedures and anything that’s available to help them help themselves,” Schaeffer said. “Our goal is to give patients and anyone with this chronic condition the help they need right in the own community.”

For more information on the support group, call Schaeffer at (630) 665-0717.