If you or a family member or a friend suffers from Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, you must appreciate the difficulties of getting up in the morning and living your life. While your doctor can diagnose you, give you some resources, and then recommend that you see a pain management specialist, they cannot tell life-changing consequences of suffering from RSD/CRPS moving forward.
For the most, this is not due to their incompetence or deliberate withholding information, but because an RSD/CRPS diagnosis is a difficult one to make. Additionally, many doctors are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the condition.
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There is no one definitive guide on how to live with RSD/CRPS. The fact is, RSD/CRPS cases are relatively unique with every individual having a unique experience. That said, there are golden tips to follow to help you with your daily life.
#1. Manage Tension And Stress
Tension and stress only make things worse. This is because the stress system that controls your fight or flight is also involved with RSD/CRPS. As such, anything that increases your stress or tension will also exacerbate RSD/CRPS, making the symptoms much worse.
Some of the best stress management tools you should use include breathing exercises. The exercise involves taking deep breaths while focusing on breathing alone. Another tool that helps you deal with stress is taking deep, restorative sleep. Finally, consider seeking counseling when needed. Toughing it out tends to be ineffective. On the other hand, a support system will go a long way in helping you deal with stress.
#2. Exercise Is Crucial
Even though you might not feel bogged down and not in the mood to be active, consider engaging in moderate exercises at least a few times every week. Exercising will help you deal with the pain and improve your strength. To this end, consider taking walks, stretching, restorative therapies, or engaging in myofascial release. A point worth keeping in mind is the importance of finding and working with a therapist experienced in working with RSD/CRPS patients.
#3. How To Deal With Hypersensitivity
There are many cases of RSD/CRPS pain symptoms being worsened by something seeming insignificant, for instance, taking a car ride, listening to loud music, or sitting next to an open window. Vibrations, changes in weather conditions, and drafts can increase the pain symptom. When you suffer from RSD/CRPS, any slight sensation can cause a significant increase in pain and impact your physical well-being.
With that in mind, staying warm can help alleviate pain. Additionally, anything that helps increase blood flow to the skin will help as well. RSD/CRPS reduces the blood supply to your skin. As such, keep your thermostat at a higher temperature, take warm baths with Epsom salt, or take supplements such as magnesium citrate that relaxes blood vessels and boosts blood flow to the skin.
#4. Maintain A Healthy Diet
Everyone is encouraged to maintain a good and healthy diet. However, when suffering from RSD/CRPS, consuming a healthy diet is especially important. It would help if you also took care to avoid foods that decrease blood flow. Such foods include chocolate and coffee. Moreover, avoid foods you are allergic to. Whether you are allergic to lactose, gluten, eggplant, white potatoes or even tomatoes, avoid them at all costs. Finally, avoid any foods that increase a train to your immune system as they could worsen the conditions.
#5. Pay Attention To Your Body
It is normal for people to want to push their bodies beyond their limits to accomplish more. However, if you suffer from RSD/CRPS, do not overdo it. Pace yourself. You need to be mindful of the fact that there is more to the story than how you feel right now.
For instance, pushing yourself before it starts to rain might expose you to a dire situation. Understand your limit and do not feel bad when you cannot accomplish everything you wanted on a given day. There are good days and bad days; do what you can, when you can.
#6. Embrace Something That Keeps Your Mind Busy And Or Gives You Meaning
Everyone has those healthy things they love and enjoy engaging in. Many of us will go through life, searching for a higher purpose and meaning. However, when you live life with chronic pain, it is a tad difficult to appreciate such pursuits.
That said, if you could learn to live a life not controlled by RSD/CRPS, you will have an easier go at enjoy life and living a life of meaning and greater purposes. Although it is counterintuitive, RSD/CRPS can give the tools you need to empower yourself and to help others as well. While this often needs training, when you can use RSD/CRPS to give you a purpose in life, you will find living to be much more comfortable.
Additionally, consider taking hobbies that will help you keep your mind off things. Take up challenges that keep you relatively busy. Get a pet, install games on your mobile devices or engage your mind in any other way that distracts you from the pain.
#7. Build A Strong Relationship With Your Doctor
When you find a doctor who can help you deal with RSD/CRPS and its symptoms, ensure you build a strong relationship with him or her. Strong relationships with doctors are invaluable under normal circumstances but more so when you have RSD/CRPS. Keep in mind that they are out to help you and not judge you. Please do not be embarrassed or afraid to tell them about your habits and symptoms. Make a point of being open and honest with your doctor as they can help improve your condition.
Make a point of learning about your body in relation to the RSD/CRPS condition and symptoms. You should think of RSD/CRPS as a condition that cohabits your body with you. After that, makes decisions and take steps that keep you in charge of your body. Pay attention to the things that make you happy and keep you feeling good.