Overall treatment to hit at ALL the symptoms: Qi gong, qi gong and more qi gong. That’s the most important thing I do. After that, i have go-to approaches to treat symptoms. Qi gong is how I essentially sedate my nervous system; not unlike a free, all natural ketamine treatment. Every day.
RSD Headache: Fish oil. I keep high quality fish oil on hand for days i have RSD headache and take it several times. Apple cider vinegar foot baths. I pour anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup of Bragg’s ACV into my Dr Scholls footbath and fill it with water that’s just slightly too hot but that i can ease into inside of a minute. I then soak my feet for at least 20 mins. I do feel this draws some energy away from my head and down to my feet and makes me feel a lot better.
Also getting out with other people to stimulate my parasympathetic system has shut this off rather quickly. I think being alone with RSD headache just might prolong it.
Burning/Neuropathic pain: Pain. Nothing compares to feeling like your body is on fire. This pain is certainly the overriding symptom and when people downplay it, I feel the need to tell them to Google the McCall Pain Scale and RSD. Yep, rated higher than childbirth, cancer pain and every other condition out there. Our brains are reading pain at every turn.
It’s almost unbelievable to learn that meditation such as qi gong can actually stop this. But meditation triggers the parasympathetic system which, in turn, calms the sympathetic system. The overactive sympathetic system is what is sending blood to these areas when there is no longer injury but is causing pain.
I will push myself to get out and walk or something to get me moving to hopefully reduce inflammation. Watch a funny movie. Take a quiet moment and think about what the pain would feel like if it didn’t feel like it was burning. Acupuncture. Anything to calm me down. Don’t get upset, don’t get stressed. That will make it worse.
Swelling/Edema: I find the quickest fix to be compression socks. I bought mine at Magellan – the travel store. When I am having symptoms that warrant compression socks, i sleep with them on (yes, sexy). By morning I feel considerably better. There have been times when my feet were almost too sensitive to put the socks on but always woke up feeling better. There is also a leg pillow at Hamacher Schlemmer which is amazing for edema and was $100 well spent.
The more I walk, the less swelling there is. Physical therapy is such a tough thing for us. When I go to a facility, I end up hurting myself. It’s not their fault (they are great) but being in that environment pushed me to push when I know I need to respect my limitations. I can walk for miles. So what if pilates hurts me? I don’t need pilates. Pilates can help someone else who cannot walk. That’s the difficulty with this condition (one of them anyway), it takes so many forms and hits us all differently that you have to find what works and do it.
Bloodpooling/pressure pain: I just started to have this creep up on me again – that feeling like the blood is building up in my feet and it’s oddly painful. I definitely got my money’s worth on those compression socks that I also use for edema. Thankfully, I have learned how to get the blood moving without having to get bloodletting done. This is also referred to as bloodcupping and rarely practiced in the United States. When I told one of my western doctors I had done it he said, “hmmm, interesting. Kind of like how we used to use leeches.” Exactly that. It pulls out the stagnant blood which, by the way, comes out dark and gross.
In Eastern Medicine, blood stagnation and inflammation are the same thing. When I once referenced stagnant blood to one of my self proclaimed RSD specialists, he looked at me like I had two heads. The blood was unhealthy and needed to come out. Mind you, an acupuncturist who is licensed and knows how to find the stagnant blood is key. Don’t start cutting and hope for the best. Also, foot baths and full baths are generally good for blood flow and, I would argue, just doing things to control your inflammation levels will help it from getting to the point where bloodletting is even necessary.
Muscle spasms that hit many muscle groups at once: It’s TERRIBLE. It feels like my entire body is wound up and is impossible to calm down quickly. I assume it’s because my nerves are especially haywire on a day like that. Nerves control muscles and there you have your muscle chaos. I used to hit the muscle relaxers for those but I am not sure they worked. So i’ve stopped.
When these spasms hit, i go for several epsom salt baths a day. If i am lucky enough to get to see my acupuncturist while this is happening, he gives me cupping on my back, hips and sides of my thighs. That, without a doubt, has been the most efficient way to stop those spasms.
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