At age 21, Cynthia Toussant dreamed of being a prima ballerina. She majored in dance and practiced for hours every day.
"I had a perfect life. I looked forward to a bright future. Nothing was going to stop me. However, something did stop her, a pain burned out of control.
The pain continued to get worse and worse to the point that it was excruciating. For ten years the pain left her bed-ridden. Every doctor she saw said it was in her head.
"I was even told that I was just a woman. So, it didn't really matter."
Finally Cynthia found a pain specialist who knew exactly what she was suffering from, ReFlex Sympathetic Dystrophy.
RSD is a disease we call neuropathic pain. A surgery or injury somehow sets off the body's nervous system. It becomes extremely hypersensitive. The nerves continually send pain signals to the spine.
"People come in here and they're wearing a glove," says pain specialist Dr. Edward Carden. "Even a glove can give them exquisite pain. The longer you go without treatement, the harder it is to control"
RSD is curable if it is caught and treated early.
"The treatment for RSD is physical therapy, you make sure to keep things moving to calm the nerves," says Dr. Carden.
"And I went from actually being bed ridden to walking around my condon in 3 1/2 weeks." says Cynthia.
Today Cynthia runs a non-profit organization that promotes RSD awarness. She wants people with RSD to know help is availalbe
"I'm able to turn my tragedy into something very positive and there is really hope.