Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), is a disorder of the nervous system characterized by severe, pounding and often incapacitating pain. It causes a distortion or enlargement of the brain’s “pain maps”. The extent, nature and frequency of the disorder vary from person to person, which is why research on the nature, diagnosis and treatment is rare and inadequate.
Until now, there is no exact science to how RSD manifests, which also makes it virtually challenging for patients to cope with the symptoms. A more simplified explanation of RSD is that it causes a distortion of pain maps, which then regulates other bodily functions such as pressure, temperature, vibrations, sympathetic control and sensation of movement.
Raising Awareness and Understanding Pain
In a very insightful essay about chronic pain, Jessica Mendes discusses how the lack of education about the complexity of disorders such as RSD or CRPS adds to the “pain” they go through. Mendes stresses that if the disability gains more attention in public discourse, especially among medical practitioners, it would promote initiative and understanding on the part of RSD patients.
RSD and CRPS patients suffer from a kind of unrelenting and burning pain, usually on the extremities such as arms, legs, hands or feet. Changes in the body also develop over time, such as in bone and skin. Tissue swelling and excessive sweating may also occur until patients will develop an extreme sensitivity to touch.
The Plight of RSD Patients
RSD patients claim that other than the debilitating and ceaseless physical pain, the fact that very few people are aware of the disease adds to the pain they feel. Though records show that there are 1.5 million people suffering from the disorder, research is very scarce and treatment is insufficient.
The lack of awareness is a more troubling condition, as most would view chronic pain disorders as “invisible” maladies. RSD sufferers hope to shine a light on how the disorder affects the quality and changes the course of their lives.
Moreover, much of the controversy surrounding RSD is that most cases have strong links to medical malpractice. Most patients who reported that they suffer from symptoms of RSD have undergone surgical procedures.
It is comforting to know that there are few institutions now that are taking the initiative to shed light on this unfortunate dysfunction. Law firms such as TyroneLaw.com provide lawyers to represent RSD patients, making sure to settle cases for patients who develop RSP and CPRS due to medical malpractice such as mistakes made during surgery.
If finding a cure is not going to be possible in the near future, RSD and CPRS patients hope for ways to heal instead and cope with a life maneuvered by pain. If there happens to be no cure at all, RSD patients at least demand health practitioners to take an effort in educating people that RSD is real. They add that medical practitioners should raise awareness in describing the pathology of all cases of RSD and CPRS.