As a personal injury attorney here in Atlanta, Georgia, who specializes in RSD/CRPS (Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) cases, I see many clients who are sufferers of chronic pain. In many instances these clients have had to visit multiple doctors and medical facilities over a number of years before being properly diagnosed with RSD/CRPS. Therefore I wanted to emphasize how very important it is for you to become your own advocate and to take charge of your own medical treatment. Doing so can lead to early diagnosis and therapy, and early detection and treatment is key in reducing the severity of the condition. You know your body better than anyone else, doctor or otherwise. RSDSA (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association) has an excellent video entitled “Yes You Can – Becoming Your Own Advocate“. Below are some tips from the video describing things you can do to become your own best advocate.
- Once you have been diagnosed, it’s important to understand as much as you can about the condition. Surf the web, read books, talk with others who have the condition. Get as much information as you can about the different available treatments, and take them to your doctor and discuss with him/her. Also have a list of any questions regarding points you may not understand. Because your time spent with the doctor is brief, you need to try to maximize it as much as possible.
- Keep a pain journal – Have a system to measure your pain on a daily basis, and always write it down. Many people use a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least severe pain and 10 being the most extreme pain. Then when you visit your doctor, be sure to take this with you so that you can figure out any patterns… times when you have more pain, perhaps activities which cause you more pain, etc.
- Make a list of what’s wrong, what’s hurting, what are you having trouble with – perhaps you now have physical limitations as to what you can accomplish. What’s changed since your last doctor visit? Once again, remember to always take your pain journal with you to the appointment.
- Once you have found a good doctor, you then need to investigate all of the available treatment options. There is no single treatment that will work for RSD/CRPS. It has to be a combination of therapies. Perhaps medication plus physical therapy. Though your doctor will make recommendations, it’s up to you to actually follow through and make sure that you have covered all available options for yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your doctors lots of questions. As stated before, you only get a short amount of time with them during your actual appointment, so it’s important to find out as much as you can during that time. Who else has RSD? How can I learn more about it? How can I learn about support groups and organizations? Are there any organizations that will help me cover the cost of my therapies that my insurance doesn’t cover?
- You will need to establish for yourself a treatment team. Because this is such a complex illness and there are many different pieces to the puzzle, you need more than just your doctor. Your team will consist of doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, support groups, and supportive family and friends. You are the captain of your own team, and it’s up to you to ensure that you have all the necessary elements.
- It’s good to have supportive family and friends, but a support group is really crucial. There’s a big difference in having a friend who has no knowledge of the condition but is very supportive, and having a friend who is supportive, but also suffers from RSD/CRPS. It’s a different level of comfort and camaraderie, a different conversation, a different level of support. Others without the condition don’t understand the pain you are in because they cannot see it. Sometimes they may think you are exaggerating or may not even believe you at all. You can ask your doctor or a member of your team for information on RSD/CRPS or chronic pain support groups in your area, or you may also check the 2 online non-profit RSD organizations for information, RSDSA and American RSDHope.
- There are many different treatments out there and no single one works for every person. So it’s up to you to try them all, after discussing each one with your treatment team and your doctor to see how it may affect your individual situation. You never know what might work and what won’t until you have tried them all.
- Another important part of your treatment will be your physical therapy. You will only have appointments with your physical therapist once or maybe twice per week. Therefore it’s entirely up to you to do your exercises every day. It’s crucial that you do them every day in order to maintain the level of improvement that you have reached, and to attain further improvement. No matter what you have to change in your schedule, if you have to get up earlier, leave work early (if you are still employed), you must do whatever is necessary to fit your exercises in. You must make the time.
In summary, there are many different tools, therapies, and professionals that can make your life easier and better. You must advocate for yourself and find them.
If you or someone you love is suffering from RSD/CRPS as the result of someone else’s negligence, call us for help. We will talk to you and review your case for free. The Tyrone Law Firm specializes in representing those who have suffered a devastating injury, such as RSD/CRPS resulting from an accident or injury caused by the negligence of another. Our personal injury firm here in Atlanta has been very successful in trying such cases.
Nelson Tyrone handles RSD/CRPS, Brain Injury, Spine Injury, and Birth Injury cases throughout the United States. He recently obtained the largest medical malpractice verdict in the history of Gwinnett County. He involves only the top medical, rehabilitation and life-care plan experts in the field. His results on behalf of clients include several of the largest settlements and verdicts on record.
You can reach us at 404-377-0017 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we can’t help you, we will do our best to put you into the hands of lawyers who can.