AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS. The healing of fractures, injuries, and other forms of trauma are often complicated by the reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) syndrome which involves pain, swelling, decreasing joint mobility, and large temperature swings in the affected part. A team of Dutch medical doctors have just completed a study aimed at proving their hypothesis that RSD is associated with oxidative stress and can be prevented by vitamin C supplementation. The study involved 115 patients with a total of 119 wrist fractures (some had fractures on both wrists). After initial treatment (application of a plaster cast) the patients were randomly assigned to receive one 500 mg capsule of vitamin C or a placebo capsule daily for 50 days. The patients were assessed after 1 week, 4-5 weeks (at removal of plaster cast), 6-7 weeks, 12 weeks, and 26 weeks and were interviewed by telephone after one year. All told there were about three times as many cases of RSD (22 per cent of all fractures vs. 7 per cent) in the placebo group as in the vitamin C group. The researchers conclude that oxidative stress (free radicals) is indeed an important contributing factor to RSD and recommend vitamin C supplementation as a simple, safe, and inexpensive way of preventing it. They believe that vitamin C may be effective not only in the prevention of RSD in connection with wrist fractures, but also in connection with other fractures and lesions.
Zollinger, Paul E., et al. Effect of vitamin C on frequency of reflex sympathetic dystrophy in wrist fractures; a randomised trial. The Lancet, Vol. 354, December 11, 1999, pp. 2025-28