What is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, is a poorly understood condition in which a person experiences severe persistent and often disabling pain.
Most cases of CRPS are triggered by an injury, but unlike most injuries, the pain does not resolve after the physical injury is healed. The pain is usually limited to one region or limb, but in some cases it can spread to other parts of the body. Typical for the condition is hypersensitivity of the skin in the affected body part. Even a slight touch, or even just a change in temperature can result in intense pain. The involved region can become atrophied, stiff and often have fluctuating skin color and/or temperature.
There is no known cure for the condition, but some cases of CRPS gradually improve over time, and some respond to a combination of physical therapy, pain medication and psychological support. However, in some cases of CRPS the severe pain persist, and the affected person will experience disabling pain for many years.
Much is written about this poorly understood condition, and severely affected patients have been willing to try extreme measures to obtain relief. One such approach, under investigation in Germany, is to induce a comatose state with iv ketamine (a dissociative anesthetic agent) for up to a week. Preliminary reports have suggested that about 1/3 of the patients may experience prolonged pain relief, but no well controlled studies have yet been published, and this costly and somewhat risky treatment alternative demonstrate to what length some patients in their desperation are willing to go.
The Lightning Process® (LP) has been employed successfully by many people with CRPS. This success is a relatively recent discovery, and Amanda Ashley (Portland, OR) and myself have also started taking on CRPS clients and been witnesses to remarkable success.
The theory behind this approach is that the brain has become hyper-sensitized to impulses from a region of the body previously injured, and that this adversely affects pain perception and also autonomic nervous system functions regulating the affected region of the body. By using the LP techniques the brain can be re-trained to restore a more appropriate response to impulses from this body region. It takes focus and commitment, but has had amazing and lasting results.
One of my clients has been willing to share her story for the benefits of other CRPS afflicted patients:
Cali: “I was diagnosed with CRPS in the fall of 2013 after shoulder surgeries from swimming injuries. My right arm would frequently swell and turn purple. It was so incredibly painful that I could barely use it. CRPS was a terrible diagnosis to get. My doctor told me that he’d rather diagnose a terminal illness ‘because at least then there would be an end to the pain.’ It took heavy doses of opioids to get through college. When the pain started to spread into my neck and shoulder I tried Calmare treatment, which did give me some temporary relief. But very soon after I started graduate school, the pain increased back to the 6-8 range and my life was truly miserable with no relief from the many other treatments I tried.
That’s when my mom discovered the Lightning Process. I was quite interested in neurology and neuroplasticity and read everything I could about the LP. I decided it was worth a try. The very first day of the seminar I got my pain down to lower levels, and by the end of the week it was consistently around a 1-2 – something I hadn’t experienced for over a year and a half by that point. For the first few months I would freak out every time my arm accidentally bumped something, expecting the pain to come back. But even in the few instances when my pain did increase slightly, I had the tool to manage it, to re-track my brain.
I got my life back from the LP! My mom, who spent countless hours looking for anything that might help me, got her life back too. And now I’m rock climbing most weekends, waterskiing and snow skiing. And the best part of all is hanging out with the people I love without having to pretend I’m not in excruciating pain…”
Missy, Cali’s mother writes:
“There is nothing worse than watching your child hurt and being powerless to help. Thanks to the Lightning Process and Berit, Cali is now leading a normal life now and I am so thankful to the LP for giving her the tool to heal from this horrible condition.”