Physicians fail to recognize post-traumatic vasospasm of the upper extremity because of its low incidence, the minor nature of the original injury in many patients, and the absence of obvious physical findings in some patients. The nature of post-traumatic vasospasm is poorly understood beyond the realization that sympathetic activity in the involved area is abnormal after an injury. This abnormality is characterized by one or more of the symptoms of pain, coldness, and weakness, or the signs of rubor, edema, impaired motor power, and increased pseudomotor activity.
Patients with post-traumatic vasospasm are erroneously thought to be malingerers or in possession of a low pain threshold in response to a minor injury. As a result, treatment is not given or the treatment prescribed is either improper or woefully inadequate. Unfortunately, these circumstances lead to a period of drifting from one physician to another in search of relief; the patient remains incapable
MEAGHER SW. Post-Traumatic Vasospasm: Role of Thermal Measurement. Arch Surg. 1963;87(4):539-541. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1963.01310160001001