Complex regional pain syndrome
I really enjoy working with clients with CRPS. It seems to be one of the most painful pain conditions but also one of the quickest and easiest to fix. I think this is because it is often experienced in isolation and has not ended up linked in with many other conditions such as chronic fatigue and anxiety. I have seen nearly all my CRPS clients recover – even higher success rates than my other client groups. The record holder so far was able to fix her CRPS in seven minutes!
WHAT CAUSES CRPS?
A medical answer is that there is swelling in the central nervous system and maladaptive neural pathways which send pain messages through the body that are disproportionate to the original injury experienced. Fluctuating blood flow can cause extra swelling, skin turning red or purple, temperature changes and sharp pain. With time, the pain usually starts to spread from the original injury site (around 90% of sufferers) and for an unlucky 35%, the pain is then felt all over the body. However, this still begs the question – why? Clients often report that their initial injury was so small and insignificant, and yet a few weeks later, they are suddenly in enormous pain. I believe that this is because their body has got stuck in a stress response and this has affected their neural pathways. I have observed that people with CRPS are usually very high achievers and very driven, which has put their system under huge demand. They are often young children who are star sports players or academics and are succumbing to the pressure of being so successful. This can be a contributing factor to their pain.
How can Empower Therapies help?
There are two options for CRPS treatment at Empower Therapies:
- ‘The Switch’ – a three day training programme that I now teach instead of The Lightning Process
- NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) – a one hour individual session.
The Switch teachesyou about how your brain produces pain messages and how you can reprogramme those faulty neural pathways. You will learn techniques that you will need to practise often to switch off those faulty neural pain messages and to close the neurological pain gates throughout your body that have become falsely open. You will also learn about the role of stress in producing pain, and about thinking patterns and beliefs that exacerbate pain. You will explore any underlying emotional issues from your past that are also contributing to your pain and learn simple, quick techniques for releasing old issues. While historically, I treated all CRPS clients with athree day course, in the last couple of years, I have discovered that some CRPS clients are able to recover from an NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) session that I have personally developed, tailor-made for CRPS clients. This approach teaches people about the physiology of pain and how to use techniques to simply shut the pain gates. It does not deal with emotional issues and stress response, so this intervention is not suitable for everyone. Any clients who want to work with me would need to apply for the full 3 daySwitch programme and work through the workbook for it, to prepare themselves for mind-body approaches. If I think the CRPS NLP session would be suitable, I will offer it at the time of assessment. If I believe that the full Switch course is required, I will offer that. We get a lot of enquiries from America, so may I recommend that there are two Lightning Process Practitioners (the course I used to teach before The Switch) in America that you could check out – Amanda Ashley and Berit Frivold.
How can you help yourself?
Get your hope back about recovery being possible by watching some of the movies on this website. Just knowing that there is an answer can help people to relax and calm their stress response and start getting improvements.
Start actively reducing your stress response by doing things like meditation, breathing exercises, and activities that you find particularly relaxing.
Every time you catch yourself thinking about your pain, immediately make yourself think about something else instead. If you re-route your brain often enough, you can start creating changes to those faulty neural pathways.
Spend time everyday visualising all your pain gates shutting (perhaps you need to do some gate maintenance such as painting them, squirting CRC on the hinges et cetera?), or imagining a giant truck jack knifing on a motorway, blocking all the pain traffic from getting through. An orthopaedic surgeon has reported good results with his clients by getting them to use this imagery, as it helps to slow down the automatic pain message traffic going through your body.
If these suggestions fix your CRPS – FANTASTIC! If these very simple interventions are not enough for you, that’s OK. We have a lot of far more comprehensive techniques and education available at The Switch that will allow you to make bigger transformations.
Below are graphs showing my statistics of my first 15 clients with CRPS. They all made full recoveries.
Length of CRPS illness
Busting unhelpful CRPS myths
“Only children can recover from CRPS”
Of the 13 recent CRPS clients, 10 were children and they all recovered within a few days. Three adults also did the course and they all recovered within a couple of weeks and experienced dramatic pain reductions within the first 3 days.
“Recovery is only possible in the first year of having CRPS”
There is a nasty myth perpetuated by doctors and media that people who have had CRPS for longer than a year cannot hope to recover. I have seen no evidence for this. I have had several clients who had CRPS for 8 – 10 years and they also fully recovered.
“Results won’t last”
I follow up my clients for at least six months and I consistently see people maintaining their improvements long term. I sometimes hear from clients who resolved their CRPS five years ago and they report that they can barely even remember what it was like to have had CRPS. They do not fear that they will ever have it again. This is because they have learnt how to fix themselves and have actively rewired their own brain, rather than having someone else treat them.
“Treatment for CRPS will be very painful”
While the hospital physiotherapy treatment for CRPS can very painful and requires many months of purposely using the affected limb and massaging it through the pain, treatment at Empower Therapies does not cause additional pain. This is because we work by retraining the mind, rather than targeting the affected limbs. Most clients experience a dramatic pain reduction very quickly and are usually pain-free and medication-free within a few days or weeks.
Disclaimer: We are not medically trained and therefore did not diagnose these clients ourselves. We rely on client information about their diagnosis from their health professionals and we recommend clients to return to their doctors after our treatment to confirm that they no longer have CRPS and to be advised about safe weaning from their medication. Statistics reported on this page are based on the outcomes reported by clients (and sometimes their doctors). We cannot guarantee results, as every individual is different, however, we have seen excellent results for almost all our CRPS clients. Note –I taught The Lightning Process for 8 years and saw over 1200 clients through it, with excellent results. Now I teach The Switch instead, and I have been very excited by the results that they are achieving.