Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a condition that is associated with the imbalance and malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Medically speaking, it is the most painful disease known to man – rating higher than both childbirth and amputation on the McGill Pain Index. Unlike childbirth, though, the pain experienced from CRPS is relentless and unending. Tragically, this condition has been dubbed the “suicide disease” due to the severity of the pain it causes those who suffer.
Many CRPS patients suffer for years before they finally figure out what is wrong with them. Some never even receive an official diagnosis. The typical CRPS patient has been down a long road and has seen many, many doctors. Sadly, there is a general lack of awareness and understanding surrounding this condition. In fact, many of our patients tell us that their physicians had never even heard of CRPS. This lack of understanding has resulted in treatment options that typically do not provide any kind of real, sustained relief for patients.
At this time, the most frequently used pain relief treatments and techniques for CRPS include:
Sympathetic nerve Blocks:
During a sympathetic nerve block, anesthetic medication is injected into your nerve near your spine to numb the pain. Most people we see have had multiple nerve blocks and we find that it causes scarring in the tissue, which is an added complication that you have to deal with later on.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic. Its job is to disconnect the brain from the pain that you’re feeling. What we tend to see with patients is that it does work for some people short-term, but infusions must be repeated, as the results are not permanent. The problem with this (and many other “maintenance” forms of treatment) is that while this is happening, that fire (the CRPS) is burning hotter and hotter and hotter. Eventually, you’re unable to control the CRPS pain with the ketamine. Ketamine has a ceiling, CRPS does not. Ketamaine also has numerous notable side-effects.
Calmare therapy disrupts the pain signal by “scrambling” it. This treatment applies a low-amperage electric signal that is made of codes recognized and normally used by the brain. The new code “tricks” the brain to read a discernable nonpain code. Calmare therapy is a more non-invasive approach, but it’s still interrupting the pain signal rather than getting to the root of the problem. We’ve had several instances of patients saying their pain spread after getting Calmare, so there is a risk involved.
Spinal Cord Stimulators:
Spinal cord stimulators are devices that are surgically placed under your skin, sending an electric current to your spinal cord that attempts to block neuropathic pain. The electric pulses created by the stimulator aim to mask the pain signals from reaching your brain. We find that they are not very effective. They can help with the pain, but they cause lots of scarring around the leads, and for many people, they don’t work at all. We have often seen that getting a SCS causes the CRPS to spread. It is also important to note that once the stimulator is inserted, the damage it may cause cannot be fully undone. They can take the stimulator out, but the leads cannot be taken out due to scarring around them.
Many CRPS patients rely on opioids, or other prescription drugs just to get through the day. In addition to unwanted side effects and dangers from narcotics, when you take opioids (or any type of prescription medication) you’re taking an unhealthy body and adding more and more chemicals to it. Eventually, all of this becomes a mass that your body can’t bear.
Pharmaceutical Drugs (Gabapentin, Lyrica, NSAIDS, Naltrexone, etc.):
Pharmaceutical drugs can take the edge off for some people, but many of them come with a host of unwanted side effects, and most patients will build up a tolerance to them. Again, drugs have a ceiling – CRPS does not. When it comes to pharmaceutical drugs, the bottom line is that you must advocate for yourself, exercise caution, and do your research before you decide to start taking any drug.
These treatment options share one commonality:
They all attempt to interrupt, scramble, or numb the pain signals. These are all pain management techniques – designed to manage your pain, but not to provide a solution to it. For CRPS patients, the need for pain control is very obvious, but simply controlling your pain is not a long-term solution.
we have found The most effective approach to treating this condition
At our clinic, we are passionate about getting to the root cause of conditions and treating the body from the inside out. We know that the presence of CRPS indicates a malfunction of the central nervous system. Therefore, we have found that the most effective approach to treating this condition is to treat the central nervous system itself.
Over the years, we have introduced numerous tools and techniques in order to perfect our program and help our patients achieve healing. Our approach is focused on nervous system rehabilitation consisting of vagus nerve stimulation, neuromuscular re-education with patented technology, magnetic resonance technology, viral and bacterial analysis and treatments, and liver detoxification. These modalities are designed to enhance one another synergistically to restore balance to the central nervous system. When the nervous system is given the tools that it needs to achieve a state of balance once again, symptoms tend to resolve. You are not broken beyond repair. Your body is amazing and capable of healing!
We have seen firsthand how enormously important it is to provide an uplifting environment for our patients to heal. It is crucial that you receive treatment from doctors and therapists who understand your condition and truly care about you as a person. This loving, supportive network is another component of treatment that sets your experience at our clinic apart. We operate like a big family – probably very different from any other medical experience you have had. When you arrive here, you are surrounded by people who get it. Our waiting room is a sacred place where encouragement and understanding abounds. You will be hugged. You will shed tears. You will celebrate victories. You will make life-long friendships with people who are so fiercely fighting the same battles that you are. You finally see and know that you are not alone.
Know that there is hope for you regardless of how long you have had CRPS or what you have tried before. We have seen patients with very recent diagnoses and patients who have suffered from this condition for over 30 years. Many of our patients have exhausted every avenue before finally finding us.
We know how easy it can be to lose hope when you are living in agony and there seems to be no end in sight. We know that many of you spend your days feeling like you aren’t living, but merely existing. We know how insanely heartbreaking and hard it is, and we commend you for fighting. Please know and believe this, regardless of what anyone tells you: CRPS can be conquered. It is possible to thrive again. Every single patient who recovers should bring you hope. Their bodies are no more special or capable than your own. Healing is possible for you, too. Your body was intricately and magnificently designed to recover and repair.
-Dum Spiro Spero – While I breathe, I hope.