Friday, September 01, 2006

Living with Unbearable Pain

Living with Unbearable Pain, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Living with Unbearable Pain

August 28, 2006 -
Eleven-year-old Rachel Heisler loves to watch her brother race, but being near race cars can sometimes cause her horrible pain.

"She would sit in the stands and cry it hurt so bad, but she had to go see him race," Marilyn Heisler, Rachel's mother, said.

Rachel suffers from complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS. Doctors diagnosed her after a minor foot injury during gymnastics triggered agonizing non-stop pain. Even slight sounds can bring her to tears. Sounds like the microwave beeping or the phone ringing can make the pain even worse.

Dr. Robert Schwartzman is a CRPS expert. He says it's a chronic pain ailment brought on by injury to nerves or nerve endings.

"It starts with severe pain out of proportion to what the injury is ... I don't think there's any pain in medicine that's worse than this," Schwartzman said.

For years, Vance Hudson was told the pain was all in his head.

"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," Hudson said.

While there's no cure, experts say pain medications and some treatments can help, but early diagnosis is critical.

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

Support groups give patients like Vance relief. Just knowing there are others like him makes him feel less helpless and alone. Rachel gets a lot of support from her family. She's improving with various treatments and hopes to continue with a normal life.

"I want to go back into gymnastics, have no pain and go back to school," Rachel said.

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