Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Research In Chronic Pain Syndrome

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New Research In Chronic Pain Syndrome

Jeanette Trompeter
Aug 20, 2006 3:52 pm US/Central

(Video of this story available on the link at the end of this post.)

Imagine doing something as innocent as stubbing your toe and developing an unbearable pain that won't go away. For years, a lot of people were told it's all in your head. But new research has shed light on something called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Rachel Heisler, 11, was diagnosed after a minor foot injury during gymnastics triggered agonizing, non-stop pain. Now, nearly any vibration at all can bring her to tears.

"The microwave beeping, the phone ringing. So everyday noise would make it worse," she said.

Dr. Robert Schwartzman is an expert in CRPS. He said it's a chronic pain ailment brought on by even the slightest injury to nerves or nerve endings.

"It starts with severe pain out of proportion to what the injury is. So, you twist your ankle. Then, all of a sudden, it starts to swell more than it should," he said.

For years, people were told it's "all in your head," but Dr. Schwartzman said new research proves CRPS is real. While there's no cure, Schwartzman said pain medications and some treatments do show some benefits.

"If it got caught early and people understood this, I think we could dramatically stop its devastation," Dr. Schwartzman said.

It took doctors years to diagnose Vance Hudson. He said the pain has taken over his life.

"I'm no longer employed. I spent a year without any income at all. It impacts relationships. I'm just not the same person I was," he said.

Hudson and many patients find relief in support groups. He said CRPS can leave you feeling depressed and alone.

Heisler gets a lot of support from her family. She's improving and is trying chiropractic care. She can get around without her walker now and has big plans for the future.

The National Institutes of Health is funding studies in hopes of better understanding the disease and developing treatments.

(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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