“I am proud that I don’t let the fear of pain or what my future may hold stop me from living each day to the fullest and creating a better future for myself.”


This Is CRPS

Tessa’s Story

“I was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in 2010 following a soccer injury. RSD/CRPS is a rare debilitating chronic pain condition that causes constant sympathetic nervous system activation following a minor injury and sometimes no injury at all. For some, the RSD is localized in one limb, while for others like myself, it affects the entire body. Though RSD causes extreme pain by producing the sensation that the affected areas are on fire, it can cause even more detrimental effects, as it has the potential to move to the autonomic nervous system where it affects the heart, digestion, blood pressure, temperature control, and more. RSD can even affect muscle control, sensation perception, hair and nail growth, and skin temperature, amongst a host of other symptoms. I am one of the lucky ones who has autonomic dysfunction as well as dystonia (uncontrollable muscle contraction) in addition to problems with sensation perception (allodynia and hyperalgesia) and skin temperature regulation as a result of RSD. Worst of all, though RSD/CRPS is characterized as the most painful medical condition according to the McGill Pain Scale, researchers do not know what causes it and thus, do not know how to cure it.

“Making the transition from an active sixteen year old soccer player to a professional patient wasn’t easy. I have had to endure hundreds of appointments with specialist doctors, X-rays, MRIs, EMGs, nerve blocks, tilt table test, endless hours of physical and occupational therapy, frequent infusions, week long hospital stays, spinal cord stimulator implantation surgery, and perhaps worst of all, the consumption of thousands of pills. It has not been an easy path and I would not wish RSD on my worst enemy; however, I have learned so much from my journey. I have learned to be thankful for the little things in life, such as wiggling my fingers. I have learned the importance of being my own best advocate and that the happiest of moments in life are created, rather than being handed to us. I have learned that everyone has a story and you cannot be quick to judge by outward appearance. I have learned that it is okay to get upset and feel weak and to turn to the ones we love when things get tough. I have learned that no matter how hard things may get, you never, ever give up and I have learned that the worst of situations make the best of life lessons. 

“I am thankful for my journey. Though most nights I collapse in bed having spent all of my energy pushing through the pain during the day, my journey has led me to where I am today. I am proud of what I have accomplished despite the obstacles I have had to overcome. I am proud that I don’t let the fear of pain or what my future may hold stop me from living each day to the fullest and creating a better future for myself. Most importantly, however, I am proud of what I can offer to others because of my experiences.” – Tessa

Help Tessa fight the flame. Every year we raise money to donate to the RSDSA to research CRPS. Register for our Fight the Flame 5k or donate below:

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