Trust Me, My Pain Is Real

During the summer before eighth grade, I hurt my ankle at band camp. I went through physical therapy, but the pain still persisted. However, the x-rays and other imaging showed that my ankle was perfectly fine, that nothing was wrong. This was confusing, because I walked with a limp because of how badly it hurt. Touching it hurt. It just really hurt.

Luckily for me, I have a mom who would not give up until she got an answer for what was wrong with my foot. We ended up at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and saw a nationally accredited doctor who diagnosed me with RND a.k.a. Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy.

What the heck is that?

It is a member of the complex regional pain syndrome family, and is also known as Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain.

What does it mean?

According to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, RND is a condition "that leads to severe pain in the joints and muscles in children. The pain may be described as sharp, burning, achy, crampy, a pounding hammer, or cutting like a knife. The pain is caused by a nerve sensitivity whereby the nerves in the body send pain signals to the brain inappropriately" (RND Overview).

What about my story?

My story fits right in there with 80% of other patients diagnosed with RND (Sherry). Psychological factors, particularly stress, played a huge role in my pain. While in treatment with a physical therapist and a psychologist, they found that the more stressed I became, the more pain I was in. Nearly everyone has some kind of horror story about starting junior high/middle school, but mine is a little different.

The biggest thing in helping me get my RND under control is managing my stress. Sometimes, like finals time, I feel my ankle again, because my stress levels are higher than normal. However, it is not the debilitating pain that it once was. For many patients, blood flow to the affected area decreases or increases, causing the joint/afflicted area to feel either cold or hot. In my case, the blood flow decreases, causing my ankle to be cold to the touch. Very rarely does it actually hurt anymore.

Many people are not as lucky as I was. Their pain is dismissed as nothing, or imaginary, which only compounds the psychological stress. If you trust me, trust them, their pain is all too real.

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