In the United States 54 million people have a disability and only 15 percent were born with a disability (Jaeger & Bowman, 2005). If a person lives long enough, it is statistically likely that they will develop some kind of disability in their advancing years (Jaeger & Bowman, 2005). At some point in your life you could have experience a fractured bone, a minor cut, or had some type of surgery. Imagine after some minor injury that you may not even remember and then experiencing a constant pain so agonizing that no amount of pain medication can make you comfortable (Lang & Moskovitz, 2003). Some additional symptoms that you may also experience are severe burning pain, changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling and extreme sensitivity to touch (Juris, 2005). These symptoms are associated with a disease that is called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) but more recently termed as complex regional pain syndrome, type 1 (CRPS 1) (Juris, 2005). For simplification purposes this disease will be referred to as RSD throughout this paper.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss an invisible disease call Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and how it impacts an individual’s life. The framework that will be utilized is the strength and empowerment perspective to show some coping mechanism to assist individual’s adjusting to the impact this disease has on their life and how to improve their everyday experience when dealing with the symptoms of this disease. This paper will also discuss four policy recommendations that could be used to improve a patients overall heath and tools to manage this life altering experience.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
RSD is a hyper sensitized nerve condition that is considered mysterious and unexplored or often not considered at all by the medical community or society (Juris, 2005). This condition afflicts between 1.5 – 8 million people in the United States (Juris, 2005). The cause in unknown but suspected to be a dysfunctional reaction to minor bodily trauma as minor as a cut or sprained ankle to any type of surgery, it can happen to anyone at any time (Juris, 2005).
In approximately 65 percent of RSD cases, an ordinary soft-tissue injury processes into this condition (Juris, 2005). Fractures, surgeries, spinal cord disorders, injections, infections, and repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome are examples that can precipitate into RSD (Juris, 2005). RSD symptoms can establish themselves in many different forms, but the signature feature is unrelenting pain that exceeds the expected discomfort of the initial injury (Juris, 2005). The pain can be deep burning and constant, it can be sharp jabs of pain, aching pain, electrical sensations and small muscle spasms that afflict the affected region (Juris, 2005). While an individual can develop RSD anywhere in the body, it typically begins in one or more extremities, initially distributing itself along the hand or foot (Juris,...