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Yesterday was the first day of November, and with that, it was the first day of RSD awareness month. I've dedicated myself to blogging about RSD this month, to increase awareness of this condition. If you think you know all about it, or if you actually do, please stick with me. I'm hoping to share things you wouldn't expect. And please know that the stories I share here are not to gain pity, but rather to help others understand RSD.

First, though, we need to understand RSD, what it is and what the experience of having RSD is like.

What does RSD stand for? RSD stands for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, but the new official name is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and I use the terms interchangeably.

What is RSD/CRPS? It's a condition of pain which usually follows an injury. There are tons of theories of what causes it, but one thing everyone agrees on is that it's incredibly painful. So painful, in fact, that people who have it are usually not believed when we describe our symptoms.

What are the symptoms of RSD? According to American RSD Hope, there are four main symptoms of RSD

1. Constant chronic burning pain.
2. Inflammation
3. Spasms-in blood vessels and muscles of the extremities
4. Insomnia/Emotional Disturbance


It's not uncommon for someone to have most or all of these symptoms. For example, I have severe burning pain, stabbing pain, sensitivity to touch, change in skin color such as grey, blue, abnormally white or red. If I'm particularly unlucky, I get a combination of these colors. Then there's the swelling. There are also temperature changes, usually for me the foot and leg are colder than the good leg/foot. Finally, I have difficulty sleeping, and can deal with depression or anxiety.

The thing is that I might not always have all of the symptoms. And just because the foot isn't bright purple doesn't mean that my pain isn't horrible. It's common for this to cloud the diagnosis. Even if all of the symptoms are showing themselves when the patient is at the doctor's office, the doctor may not know about the condition.

Next in this series, we will talk about how RSD is treated, and why awareness is so vital.

Comments

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____hejira
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
In case I've never said, you are a pretty awesome person. You seem like you've been having a hard time lately, so I just wanted to remind you that you are an inspiration to a lot of people. Not necessarily because you're blind, have RSD, or because you're a published author. You are an inspiration because you are honest when you need help, you admit your faults, you are real with your feelings, you share your experiences out of a desire to help others, and you don't just give up, even if you want too sometimes. Keep it up. Hopefully one day I'll get to meet you in person, (maybe at CSUN.)
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