Complex Regional Pain Syndrome · CRPS · Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy · RSD

Our Emotional Journey

This post is about the stages of emotions we sometimes experience when you are living with CRPS/RSD or other painful Chronic debilitating illnesses.

CRPS/RSD Is A Journey Through Many Emotions.

Many individuals living with RSD/CRPS or other debilitating illnesses find it hard to explain to loved ones the many emotions that they are going through.

Many feel unsure if they emotions they are experiencing are “Normal“.

Emotions Of Chronic Pain like RSD


As you first experience RSD symptoms there is concern over what is happening.

-After consulting with a doctor who specializes in RSD or other related diseases, the concern is directed toward the results of your medical exam.


Concern can quickly turn into fear as the uncertainty of the illness becomes the focus. The long-term prognosis may be feared.


The most powerful emotion which attempts to take over other prevalent emotions is denial. Avoiding the reality of the situation and continuing to live life as if unaffected by the disease is used as a coping mechanism.

Harm might be caused if denial leads to activities which increase or aggravate symptoms.


A definite diagnosis of your early symptoms can give you a sense of relief. You feel more in control, because you know what to call this “thing” that has taken over your life.  This relief is only temporary, since a diagnosis does not guarantee a cure.


Frustration is a common emotion for people living with RSD, arthritis, fibromyalgia or other debilitating illnesses.

Frustration mounts when dealing with:
                       – limitations
                       – loss of ability
                       – decreased mobility
                       – increased fatigue
                       – other changes

Lifestyle changes caused by these illnesses are often difficult to accept.


Often regarded as jealousy, envy, or the “WHY ME” syndrome.
An overwhelming sense of loss from all the lifestyle changes can lead to feelings of unfairness and being shortchanged. You may look at other people and wonder why you and not them.

Anger: Many aspects of RSD can lead to anger.

Circumstances that may lead to anger include: 

  – inconveniences caused by the illness

– attitude of doctors and health care

-personnel (this one will continue…)

– lack of understanding from family and friends(hopefully this gets better by providing family with reading material about your disease.)

In Contrast;

Angry feelings may occur when loved ones hover over you, try to control your life, or affect your need for independence. 

Anger is an emotion people encounter intermittently throughout the course of the illness.

Loss Of Control:

At some point the individual realizes that RSD pain is the determining factor in many situations. You no longer control every situation because the disease/pain becomes a major factor.


As one’s plans, goals, and lifestyles are forced to be altered, a feelings of devastation can occur from:

                              – financial loss
                              – career loss
                              – family

A person suffering so much loss, often feels depleted, mentally exhausted, and robbed by their illness.


Self-destructive feelings such as hopelessness can surface if you become swallowed up by your sorrow.

Sadness is a normal emotion that we all feel at times. IT’S NOT THE SAME AS  DEPRESSION.

If you give up or surrender to the negative impact of RSD without focusing on the remaining positive aspects of your life, hopelessness will prevail.


An RSD sufferer will go through the process of mourning from:

 – the realization that life has forever changed

 – inability to continue working, loss of job or career they loved

– inability to play with children, or interact with friends and family

– inability to participate in hobbies due to pain or loss of physical function

Just as the death of a loved one is met with a period of mourning, the loss of dreams and the loss of the person you once were must also be allowed a period of mourning.


A person living with chronic pain can develop a change in perspective.

Just as a special camaraderie, or friendships and bonds can develop among people coping with chronic pain.

Your coping skills can be improved through:

         – mutual support
         – loved ones
         – patient education
         – being an active participant in ones own health care

Solving difficult issues imposed by RSD helps people “Live With” the illness.


At the point when you learn to accept your diagnosis and not fight the disease, you truly become liberated and begin to concentrate on:

  • treatment options
  • eliminating stress
  •  prioritizing activitie
  • changing career paths, jobs or retiring                                           
  • making choices that are not based on your pain, but rather the quality of life you want 

With acceptance, you reap the benefits of living “with” the RSD, not Dying with RSD.


A positive attitude can help you adjust to life with a chronic pain disease.

The emotion of hope must also exist when searching for better treatment and a better quality of life.

Support groups are not only an emotional support network, but can also be an educational resource, for best treatment options to obtain the quality of life you are reaching for.

You are not alone in your journey with RSD/CPRS

I hope this post has been helpful to you.

I hope everyone has a low pain week filled with a warm healing light, and surrounded by those you love.