Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Parent's Pain

Jim Moret

Jim Moret

Posted: February 2, 2010 11:10 AM

A Parent's Pain

I was watching news coverage of the devastation in Haiti, trying to imagine the depth of suffering being experienced by tens of thousands of families at that very moment, when I heard a sound from my son's bedroom. A sound which had become all too familiar.

My twelve year-old, Matthew, was screaming in pain, as he had been doing for the past few weeks. In November of 2008, Matthew was diagnosed with a little known and even less understood neurological condition, now referred to as CRPS: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. In simple terms, pain signals from his foot are constantly being sent to his brain, even though no injuries are outwardly apparent.

He was originally misdiagnosed with a broken ankle, prompting doctors to place his foot in a cast for several weeks. When the cast was removed, the pain continued to escalate and it took a team of physicians and trips to the emergency room, a series of MRI's and X-Rays, to finally settle on this one diagnosis.

Matthew's pain is so severe that he is unable to touch any part of his foot without triggering spasms of intense, burning agony. I fashioned a foam pillow for his calf, allowing him to rest his leg on top of the covers, safely supporting his foot well above the bed. Even his ceiling fan had to be turned off because it created a draft of daggers against his foot.

It is difficult to express the feeling watching your son cry and scream and experience so much pain that they say they wish they were dead. Even though he later admitted that he did not mean it, those words still pierce the air with severity and seriousness.

As parents, our first instinct is the overwhelming desire to protect our babies. The inability to relieve the pain by even the smallest of degrees is, to this father of three, a helpless and horrible feeling. A twelve year-old's days should not be spent in bed, away from school and his friends, and traveling to physical therapists, psychologists, neurologists and psycho-pharmacologists.

His initial battle with this syndrome and his "cure" less than two months later prompted me to write the chapter "Miracles" in my new book, The Last Day of My Life because his recovery was, simply put, sudden and miraculous. Ironically, while I was in New York, promoting this book of gratitude and hope, Matthew had a full relapse. His world and ours were once again shattered. The debilitating pain, which we all thought was gone for good, now frightened and angered him. CRPS was once again testing the resolve and strength of this wonderful boy. As his father, it humbled me and clearly reminded me that, even during that full year when Matthew was well again, I had fallen into a typical trap: I had taken his health for granted.

If you are a parent, be grateful if your child is healthy. Because nothing tests your spirit and faith like watching your child suffer. I know that my boy will recover. I have to believe that because, right now, it's the only thing that bridges the hope and knowledge of his recovery.

Wherever you are right now, take a moment and honestly consider the blessings in your life. Big things, small moments. It's never too late to count your blessings.










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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

'Immune jab' treatment blocks chronic pain


'Immune jab' treatment blocks chronic pain

A treatment already used for immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis appears to also work for chronic pain, scientists have discovered.

One small dose of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) reduced pain in just under half of patients treated.

The pain relief lasted five weeks, on average, with few or no side effects, Annals of Internal Medicine reports.

The Liverpool University experts now plan bigger trials on more patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Unrelenting pain

Also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Complex Regional Pain syndrome (CRPS) involves a malfunction of the nervous system that causes often unrelenting pain.

It usually develops after an injury or trauma to a limb, and continues after the injury has healed.

Experts are not entirely sure why some people develop CRPS, but the latest discovery of how to treat it suggests it might be partly down to inflammation and a heightened immune response to the damage.

The immunoglobulin treatment contains blood antibodies that help dampen inflammation.

We have seen the same in our patients in more acute stages of the disease
Pain expert Professor Franz Blaes

The team at Liverpool's Pain Research Institute tested the treatment on 13 of their patients who had been experiencing chronic pain for the past six months at least.

Although the treatment did not work for every single patient, for many it provided significant relief.

Lead researcher Dr Andreas Goebel said the real effect of this treatment in clinic may turn out to be even greater because the therapy can be given in higher doses, and repeated treatment may have additional effects.

"IVIG is normally repeated every four weeks and we are working to develop ways which would allow patients to administer the treatment in their own home," he said.

Professor Franz Blaes, of the University of Giesseu in Germany, has also been trialling the treatment in CRPS patients.

He said: "We have seen the same in our patients in more acute stages of the disease. Some of the patients really do benefit - probably between thirty and fifty percent of them.

"It may be that stopping the inflammation stops the problem.

"It is quite an expensive treatment and, as yet, we are not able to tell who will respond until we try it. But we are working on that."

Longstanding CRPS affects about 1 in 5,000 people in the UK.






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