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.
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.