Lorena's Medical Condition

This page was intended primarily to inform friends and family what's going on with my medical situation, but I'm not really updating it anymore. I've included some links to info I've found useful at the bottom of the page, in case you found this site while looking for general information on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. To avoid this page showing up high on searches on this condition, I'll refer to it by name as seldom as possible :-).

After eight doctors and at least seven tests, the diagnosis came back down to the same thing I was told in January: RSD. The medical-go-round it took to get here:

My understanding of RSD from the reading I've done is that it's "a chronic pain disorder involving the sympathetic nervous system. It usually is the result of an injury or trauma.... The trauma sets off the body's mechanism for pain recognition, but then the 'normal system of pain perception' begins to misfire in it neural response, and an abnormal cycle of intractable pain begins." [About CRPS]

In my case, the probable trigger seems to have been the combination of pain from a pinched sciatic nerve (which started a few days after Thanksgiving and has long since cleared up) and overly-hot water from trying to treat the muscle spasm we assumed was causing the sciatic pain. The pain perceptors turned on, and now they don't want to turn off. That's a very oversimplified description, but it gets the basic idea across.

I've got the slight burning sensation on my left foot, swelling that's slight but enough to make me hobble when I walk, and I can't stand or walk on it for very long (time- or distance-wise). I can get around the house OK, but when we go out to the store or wherever I need a wheelchair. Pressure from snug socks/shoes/heavy covers aggravates it, so I wear loose slippers a lot when it's not warm up enough to go barefoot. It's a good thing I have a pair of warm, water-resistant boots that are sized to wear with really thick socks; if I use a thin sock I can wear them for an hour or so before the pressure starts getting to me. This is also important since letting the foot get too cold can make it hurt, too (cuts down circulation). I've put a frame under the bed sheets to take some of the pressure off my foot, but that's not as much of an issue when it's too warm for anything but a sheet. I'm still using the wheelchair to sit at the computer, since it's far more comfortable than the old office chair I was using.

For more information, I refer you to the following sites. It's not meant to be an exhaustive list, and some of them have links pages if you want more :-). For the record, CRPS seems to be the newer/preferred designator for this, but many sites still refer to it as RSD. Same condition, same symptoms, newer name apparently to better reflect the condition.