Dr Oz: Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy RSD: Paula Abdul’s Health Battle


Dr Oz: Paula Abdul’s Shocking Health Confession

Paula Abdul revealed to Dr Oz her shocking health confession – that she has Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD (but don’t worry, the show got more cheerful when Doctor Oz revealed Paula Abdul’s Beauty Secrets). Paula Abdul skyrocketed to stardom, but claimed her success has caused a devastating blow. At the age of 17, Paula suffered from an injury. In 1991, she received platinum albums, but claimed she suffered a broken leg in a dance rehearsal. In 1993, Paula was left partially paralyzed from a plane crash that caused several injuries. She had numerous surgeries to correct the issues, but was still left with the pain.


  1. says

    Paula…..please, please please get in touch with me for your inflamation.
    Are you aware of far infrared product that was invented by NASA for space suits.
    You will not believe how it will rid your body of the inflamation. You can be cocooned in it as you sleep. It is a fabulous product!!
    Good luck
    Jill Hill Giesecke
    [email protected]
    cell: 830-377-7999

  2. Sandy Gerstner-Fiessel says

    Hello Dr. Oz and Miss Abdul, Finally, someone is bringing this devastating disease to the media. I had a pull I jury to my left shoulder/neck in March of 2003. Went to physiotherapy, acupuncture, traction, ciropracters, and MRI was normal. All the while the arm continued to swell twice its size, was cold to the touch but felt like there was a hot branding iron up the bones. The hair quit growing as well as the nails, and most of the time I could not send a brain comand to it, no response. I was then diagnosed in January of 2004with RSD/CRPS at the pain clinic in Saskatoon Saskatchewan by Dr. Ha. It was good to have a diagnosis but the pain and symptoms increased to having ulcer soars on the arm and the pain also spread across into the right side of neck and shoulder. I was on handfuls of opiates, anti-convulsants, diabetic neuropathy meds,methadon, everthing at max dosage alltogethrr, but nothing worked, I couldn’t have a sheet touch it or wind blow on it. Then the neursurgeon wanted to try a spinalcord stimulator, but couldn’t do that cause other neurologist said it was going into the C5 and that nerve operates the heart and top of lungs and if he stim moved, which they often do, I would die. I wanted to die anyway,but they said there was I brand new treatment called Ketamin, used as a horse tranquilizer. I would try any thing. They prescribed a low dose cream to be absorbed through the skin and an ingestable caplette. Both were increased of dosage every 3 weeks, and slowly about 2 years the soars healed, hair has grown, nails grow but look ridged and fungal. The pain has decreased to about half, some days are better than others. This all took 7years from me and my family, our youngest was 5 and next was 8. I wasn’t able to much of a Mom or wife. Sleep Deprivation and chronic pain makes a person extremely difficult to be around so our marriage also deteriorated and has now ended after 19 years. All I am able to manage is to look after me, I wish it hadn’t happened but it did, and that’s just the way it is.

  3. says

    My X got RSD from a fall on his wrist. The meds he was on for pain should have killed him long ago. Wouldn’t suggest this for anyone, but, because of his mental depression he was given shock treatment. Interestingly that seemed to help his pain or he went into remission. He could finally let someone touch him without pain.

  4. Vicki Morgan says

    I was diagnosed with RSD in 2007 after having MRSA in 2006 in my IV site in my left arm. I have been on several different nerve meds, some that really messed up my memory. I haven’t been able to work and had to apply for Social Security Disabilty which I’m still waiting on. When you have a nerve disease you can’t see what’s going on so it’s hard for people to believe there is something really wrong with you. My kids & I had to move in with my mom. I’ve had 10 nerve blocks which helped for a short time. I was so glad to see Paula today it helps to have hope. I can relate so much to the writer Sandy on here I’ve felt the same way so many times. Thanks Dr. Oz

  5. kenken says

    The bullet list is incorrect, should say ‘no sugar’, not ‘no sugar substitute’. Paula said sugar (sweet tooth) was her weakness, but she uses stevia now, this is a natural plant sugar substitute that is good to use, its not like the equal packets etc, those are acidic, but stevia plant sugar substitue is not.

  6. says

    While I’m glad that RSD has finally made it to national television many patients are very upset that not enough accurate information was given. Paula was right in that Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome is a painful, debilitating illness. While ice may work for her it needs to be said and noted that ice is a “no no” for RSD patients. It can cause even more damage to occur. Never use it! Also the show made it sound as if by taking vitamins, supplements and plant based diets that it some how is a cure for this. It is not! It is true keeping away from inflammatory foods and drinks will help keep inflammation down which is a good thing, but this is only a tiny part of it.

    The pain is truly indescribable though one may feel the intense burning, stabbing, pins and needles, sharp stabbing and more.

    More than 10 million people have been diagnosed in the United States alone.

    Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (causalgia) has a score of 42 out of 50 on the McGill Pain Index. RSD in the most painful chronic disease that is known.

    Patients present with muscle spasms, local swelling, increased sweating, softening of bones, joint tenderness or stiffness, osteoporosis, allodynia, restricted or painful movement, and changes in the nails and skin. The pain of CRPS is continuous and may be heightened by emotional stress. It is not a condition caused by stress. Depression may be diagnosed secondary as a result of the continuous chronic pain.

    Moving or touching the limb is often intolerable. Abrasions and ulcers can form on the skin. Occasionally the limb is displaced from its normal position, hands and fingers lock in place, ankles and toes lock up, bones become brittle and softening becomes more disperse, Later muscle wastes away and atrophy becomes irreversible. Intense burning pain is the most common symptom, a feeling of constant fire through out the effected area and even through out the body to the point the body will often look burned, reddish, blue, purplish and discolored.

    RSD/CRPS involves a disturbance in the sympathetic nervous system which is the network of nerves located alongside the spinal cord and controls certain bodily functions.

    Treatments may include pain management, medication management, a spinal cord stimulator, various modalities, ketamine infusions, low light laser treatment, hbot and other possibilities. These are only treatments and what may help one may not help another. Not all treatments are available to all patients.

    RSD was first discovered by Weir Mitchel during the Civil War who named the condition Causalgia which means burning.

    There was so much left out of the show. I wish Dr. Oz and the producers had done more research. There will be much confusion now.

    RSD is NOT just body aches.
    Ice is NOT a treatment for RSD.
    Omega 3 and Vitamin B12 is a daily supplement NOT a treatment.

  7. Gail Booth says


    I agree completely. Although RSD does need national recognition especially that will lead to more understanding as well as more research, this interview with Paula simply did not promote accurate information or understanding of this debilitating disease. As you said, RSD (which is actually now known as CRPS- Complex Regional Pain Disorder) is said to be the most painful disorder known to man and thus morally we need to be finding a treatment to help patients and alleviate their suffering and also work for a cure. Currently there is no cure.

    RSD/CRPS is not caused by stress, although stress can make the experience of pain feel worse. It is not understood what causes it, but new things are being discovered about it every year. Treatments are as Twinkle listed, and supplements might help the RSD patient in some minor way, I myself take these yet go through daily unimaginable pain. Children as young as 2 have had RSD. There are no ages or groups of people who cannot get it. It is FAR from being body ACHES. The pain is extreme burning, stabbing, shooting, deep aches, and every kind of pain that has ever been described, except it is more intense. The degree of pain is beyond anything that makes sense physically as the brain and spinal cord are not acting in a normal fashion anymore with RSD and pain signals are sent constantly that are beyond what the injury or surgery pain should be.

    People with RSD have excruciating pain when anything even lightly touches the skin that is affected such as a bed sheet or clothes or the touch of a loved one. Many people with RSD become totally disabled from the pain. It can affect any part of our bodies, including our organs such as stomach, bowels, heart, and eyes. Some lucky people do go into remission but that number is a very small percentage of RSD patients. Many losses come with RSD and as friends and family do not understand or even believe the patients’ pain, we lose spouses and others. We lose the ability to work quite often. We lose the ability to get around and be independent. We lose income and then health care options. We lose our homes… I am. Depression is quite common which only makes sense. Unfortunately, suicide is said to be common. We don’t have numbers on suicide but one of the most well known RSD doctors in the US states that he knows that it is common and I believe him. I have thought of it and so have most others who I have met who have this. I read recently that cancer can also be the result sometimes of RSD/CRPS, I think due to the inflamation it causes. Widespread inflamation is also known to cause serious heart problems. With RSD the inflamation never goes away.

    This Dr. Oz show with Paula Abdul brought up RSD but did not give information that made it sound ANYTHING like it actually IS. Dr. Oz seemed somewhat compassionate to Paula about it but he made it seem like supplements were THE answer to RSD and to getting over it. He also made it seem like RSD was caused by stress which it is not. Young children who get RSD do not have it due to stress and no doctor has shown any kind of trial that showed that stress was a cause. It was more of an old wife’s tale than medical truth that stress caused it.

    It makes me sad and angry that something as serious as RSD would not have been more responsibly represented on the show. It hurts so much to know that friends or family might have seen this show and be further convinced that the patients are not as bad off as they seem to think they are. RSD takes our lives from us and causes many of us to become homebound. One friend of mine is bed-bound completely seeing her body waste away and there is nothing she can do about it. I wish Dr. Oz would take the time in an upcoming show to explain what RSD/CRPS is more clearly since he REALLY failed us on this and it hurt. A great guest he could bring on would be Dr. Robert Schwartzman (I don’t know him) because he is a “guru” of RSD treatment in the US. I hope we have not heard the last of RSD on the Dr. Oz show and I hope we as patients will not feel so hurt by the misinformation next time.


  8. Mara says

    Paula is so beautiful and she gives me hope. Her diet lifestyle resonates with me. I wish CRPS was presented more accurately though.

  9. says

    I would like everyone to know how I developed CRPS. I had a severe injury to my right leg. I went outside to get the newspaper, upon my return to our deck, my right leg got pinned between the house and the deck, up to my midcalf. I was pinned for about twenty minutes. I had swelling, abrasions and contusions. No broken bones. I continued to work as a Visiting Nurse until I could no longer climb stairs or even walk. When I fineally saw a neurologist ( six months later) I was diagnosed with CRPS. The following month I went into heart failure. That all occured a year ago. The CRPS has caused diabetic neuropathy. I have been diabetic for six years. Never had a problem with neuropathy until last month. I can no longer walk due to difficulty breathing and severe leg pain which has never gone away or gotten any better. It has only gotten worse over the past year. I am now loosing weight at the rate of a pound a day….no matter what I eat. Due to my diabetes, heart failure and diverticulitis I have to watch my diet closely but I have never lost weight as fast as I am loosing it now. I agree to your contacting Dr Schwartzman. I don’t know him personally but I have heard of him. I keep going and trying to walk every day…at least a little bit with encouragement from my brother. My brother has Wegnears Granularmatosis and has also been through a lot.

  10. gina forte says

    I have had rsd for 7 years,it has made my life hell.I have tryed ketement for 10 days,it did not work.I lost most of my life because of this rsd,I did not go 2 my daughters wedding because of treaments.this need s 2 be out there more,I live in rochester ny A few dr,s know but most know nothing about this please help and talk about more

  11. gina forte says

    i see tomorrow U R going 2 talk about MS,what about RSD please ,I am about 2 give up nothing is helping,and not enough people understand this please help

  12. Melanie Stevens says

    Even though the original posting was May 2012, I see comments are still made. I was diagnosed with RSD in 1998 and it was determined my RSD came from from knee surgery after skiing accident in Mammoth CA in 1988. I have all the symptoms and problems others above have written about. As well as extensive treatments and surgeries. To compound the problems I’ve had multiple car accidents with additional injuries and surgeries to other parts of my body.
    I am lucky to have great doctors which took many years to find. My RSD is currently manageable. But, I have flare ups when it is exasperated. I have been in PT on/off since 1988. All of what I have to do to keep the pain down is no way to live. Actually, I live as best as I can, I can say I exist and try to live. I do not ever have a day in less pain than 5 on the pain scale and that is an improvement over many years when it never went below 8.
    I have research RSD since 1998 and there is still not enough known about it and public awareness is limited. As for SS disability, good luck, the IRS is not very open to RSD as a real illness. I would love Dr Oz to address RSD on his show. It would be a benefit to many.

  13. says

    please read the letter for families and friends regarding what a day in the life of an RSD patient is like. Keith has brought to the attention exactly what it is like for us and I am truly greatful for that. Please if you really want to know Dr. Oz what it is like to live with RSD read that articled. Please, DO not sugar coat an illness that costs you almost everything you have. It is wrong, Paula has the money for medical care, she doesn’t have to worry about no medical insurance or losing her home or having no money for clothes, food, medication, She doesn’t have to wake up everyday with the stress of wondering what you will not be able to afford today. You failed all the people that suffer from RSD. You make it a joke. That was wrong. Bring on real people, real problems, that we live with daily. I am ashamed that you would make a mockery of such a horrific disease.

  14. Nancy Bass says

    I am sorry the website is American rsdhope.com Keith is the true hero in this piture. He has been able to give each of us a voice. The article should be read and you can forward to your friends and family what it is like in the day and life of someone who has RSD/CRPS. Don’t put someone on your show to sell her beauty products. This is a very serious dibiliating disease that most of us DO NOT have the financial freedom that Paula Abdul does. We live with stress from Dr. Bills, Family and Friends that think this can’t be that bad. I am hoping people will read that article and you Dr. Oz. I am hoping you will read that and understand, you did not help us, you hurt us by making out to be nothing a little supplements, and good eating can’t cure. How wrong you are. Most of us not only live with the pain but, the financial stress that goes along with it everyday.

  15. Nancy Bass says

    The website that the article is on is American RSD hope.com Please read the article and forward it to any of your friends and family. I am sorry that I for got to mention the website. But, keith put into words exactly what life is like for us. My hat goes off to him and to his family for really bringing this aweful disease to the forefront.

  16. Dawn says

    I have to admit, I did not watch this episode, however, my husband has crps/rsd. The fact of the matter is this, we have 5 children, no benefits, he has been on gabapentin, ketamine oral, ketamine infusions, cymbalta, ketamine topical has been prescribed, oxy(unsure of what type) and a few other things. It is insane. No one knows how to treat, and early diagnosis is almost impossible…if you get second or third opinions, you are doctor shopping. My husband is the financial provider for our family. He has altered his life and career to phone quotes and business is handled by phone. His leg has given out on him, smashed this front tooth put of his mouth, his teeth are horrible from meds, he has to buy shoes two sizes bigger to accommodate the swelling, he doesn’t sleep, our s-x life is shot, financially speaking its straining, we haven’t slept in our bed in months because he cannot make it up the stairs at days end, we cannot go for walks, he cannot play with our kids the way he would like to, his temperament is atrocious most days, his leg convulses like it a self contained seizure, charley horses so bad you can physically see the muscle pulled in leaving indentations and I haven’t even touched on the burning pain, the feeling of bones feeling like they are breaking, the feeling of your muscle being pulled off and all this pain lies in his eyes, visible for me to see. He takes cymbalta, not for pain, but most days he wants to jump infront of a truck, and it just makes him feel like he got hit by one instead. This “syndrome” HAS not yet been brought to light by the media in the way that those who live with it see it, and it needs to be.

  17. says

    Thanks for coming out about your disease 33 years later. RSD has been looking for someone to speakout for awareness of this disease. I am glad she finally came out a little to late for my mother who died in OCT from kidney failure because all doctors did was subscribe pain meds to her over and over. Though I am upset that my mother is dead and there is not enough awareness I hope her story will help for all patients with this disease.

  18. Jo says

    I’m one of the lucky ones! I fell and fractured my right arm. After it healed enough to get into therapy, my therapist discovered my swollen right hand and had me ask my orthopedic doctor about RSD. She was right – RSD. My arm healed quickly, but the pain was beyond belief in my hand – couldn’t use it or move my fingers. After 18 months of therapy, there is no more burning pain, I have to use a tens machine daily to keep my fingers moving, but cannot make a fist – and I can even type again. I credit my therapist for my healing in that she discovered it within a month of my fall.

  19. Scott Vogt says

    I also suffer from CRPS/RSD and there is nothing remotely funny about this condition. Approx. 12 years ago I was bitten by a Brown Recluse spider and since that time I have seen the progression of this Syndrome from my legs to my right arm and hand. I have been involved in pretty much every experimental treatment available except for the 7 day Germany or Mexico Ketamine induced coma. I have completed four separate 4-day high dose Ketamine infusions from Dr. Kirkpatrick (Tampa) with pretty good results. The first time, about 6 years ago, I had substantially less pain for about 8 months. It allowed me to get off the heavy duty pain medications and out of the wheelchair for the first time in years. It has been over a year since my last infusion and I am still benefitting from it. I hope this can help others.

  20. Brandi says

    I have a family member with severe RSD and am starting to show signs of it myself in my arm and hand. When I heard that Paula Abdul has/had RSD I didn’t believe it at all. After reading this article I am even more in doubt. It sounds more like fibromyalgia or a Chiari Malformation than RSD. I see all these pictures of her in heels ( it is supposedly in her leg/foot?) and ask how many RSD sufferers with it in their legs or feet wear heels… come on now. All of her “remedies” correlate more with the previous diagnosis than with RSD. certain things naturally increase pain, such as foods and stress, but avoiding these things will not make RSD at all tolerable. This is an excruciating disease and I believe she has made more of a mockery of the cause than a step forward because now when you say, “I have RSD” people will think , ” well look at Paula Abdul, she’s perfectly fine, so why can’t you be?” This is the biggest load of… I am sure she has chronic pain from injuries and the accident but that does not mean she has RSD. Not sure who diagnosed this one… but epic fail.

  21. says

    Dear Dr. Oz & Ms. Abdul, I am writing to the both of you on behalf of my niece. She is 36 years old and presently is suffering from whole body CRPS/RSD. She has had this disease since approximately 2006 as the result of a broken ankle. It has now spread throughout her entire body and her doctors have said that she has one of the worst cases of this disease that have ever seen. She has had spinal cord stimulators that did not work. Truthfully I have lost count of all the procedures that she has tried. Presently she is hospitalized after having a very serious back surgery, not the first. For this surgery she had a disc that was so deformed that she has been bedridden for months and months. The doctor has told us that the disc was pressing against the nerves to her left leg and toes for so long that it is deformed. At this point the doctors do not know if her pain from this nerve will ever be resolved and there is a possibility that she might be bedridden for the rest of her life due to the CRPS/RSD and the nerve pain. We just have to take one day at a time. Obviously I am quite overwhelmed for her and there is a lot more to her story. Her father also has this disease and it has been progressing quite rapidly. Inspite of all of the pain that my niece endures and the chances of her life’s hopes and dreams never coming true she always tries to have a smile on her face and never takes out her fears on others. The point of my sending this e-mail is not to ask for money, but to beg some people who might have influence on the public to help raise funds for research for this disease. My family have used all of their resources and there is still so much that we do not know about this disease. I urge you that both Dr. Oz and Paula Abdul receive this email as their support through national exposure could make a huge difference in ongoing research. Thank you, Lisa Daly

  22. Tiny van Pinxteren says

    I am commenting on all the earlier written comments. I am 58 years (young) and live with RSD (CRPS) since 1994. After my accident that crushed my left upper leg, doctors tried to fuse it with several bone grafts, but it never really succeeded and every time they went back in they saw more soft tissue and nerve damage. The odd thing was that pretty well every time, 6 weeks after surgery the leg joints stiffened completely up, the leg became purple and skin started to crack open. Eventually after 13 surgeries, several tries with a cocktail of medications, in about 4 years, they had to amputate the left leg. I was fitted with a prostheses and got the best available on the market, but again no matter what type of fit we tried, I could not tolerate it on my stump. I became wheelchair bound after one day all of a sudden my good right leg was all purple, swollen and very painful. I saw several well known doctors from around the world and tried pretty well everything mentioned in earlier postings. Nothing seemed to help and it eventually spread up to my rib cage, even from time to time in my arms and legs. Having a lot of family connections with Holland and the medical system there I found out that they seem to do more research and patients support there than anywhere else in the World. After seeing Dr. Goris (retired now) and Dr. van der Laan at the University Hospital in Nijmegen twice, we tried the drug Gabapentin at 3,600 MG daily. This seemed to do it for me and I no longer require any of the other drugs except 40 to 50 MG oxyneon. During flare up I may need more. This is a lot down from the 300 MG amitriptyline, 8 oxycocets, prednisone, and up to 100 ML morphine daily. Not that I am cured now, but the pain is tolerable, there is no swelling anymore, hair is growing back, but the coldness and burning is still there in different levels depending on no reasons at all. Physical and mental activities definitely have effect on the pain levels. Avoiding stress sure helps although that may be hard to do after all the other changes in your life. I also lost my marriage after about 30 years and can no longer work. I have to say it is hard to do, but what I found is that adjusting to what your body says is most helpful. Some days are awful, do nothing and go on the next day. I no longer have use of my legs, but it never spread any further. I am able to live on my own and do all my daily chores myself. There is hope. Stay positive and it always could be worse.

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  25. Julie Johnson says

    It is too bad Paula Abdul does not use her notoriety as a platform to bring this disease to light. She suffers, so she knows the pain, the hopelessness, the frustration. I have written to her Fan Club, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts encouraging her to speak upon the behalf of fellow Patients.
    CRPS needs to be more known to the medical community, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome needs to be common medical terminology. There needs to be more education, there needs to be more research. There needs to be a cure. I took my husband to the ER, The #2 ranked Hospital in the Country and I had to inform Them what CRPS is. This should not be happening. Thank God for sites like Yours.
    My husband was told after his Spinal Cord Stimulator was placed that he has maxed out options. If the SCS does not provide tolerable relief then its long term opioid pain control for him as his only available treatment. To me, in 2017 this is unacceptable.

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