Hit The Ground Running With Everything You Have
Written by Teryl Worster for the RSDSA blog.
How and when did you develop CRPS/RSD?
On June 4, 2020 I sustained a fractured bone in my right hand from a kick from my horse.
What has daily life been like since your diagnosis?
I had never had a broken bone in the 54 years of my life and I was very active, so I was not sure what to expect. Things went fairly well at the onset as I have a high tolerance for pain and was a certified personal trainer, so I felt that I could bounce back relatively quickly. I also own and operate a wellness spa, so I felt that I had all I needed at my disposal. This turned out to be a godsend because as the next few months played out, I found that my hand had become unusually immobile post incident. My right hand was very swollen when the cast came off, there was a burning pain, and the color of my entire right arm was very different from my left.
I immediately started physical therapy and added a variety of treatments. I used far/near infrared light, PEMFT (Pulse Electromagnetic Field Therapy) as it was good for microcirculation. I had no idea what was wrong but began working hard to decrease the pain and inflammation. I used homeopathic pain management products, massage therapy, and acupuncture, yet still the hand was not getting better. This did not make sense to me as I understand much of the science behind inflammation.
My right hand was very sensitive to touch, and the skin discoloration and edema were beyond what was normal after several weeks of PT. My surgeon offered to give me a cortisone shot in my wrist due to the pain and immobility. This was the most pain I had felt up to that time. He also put me on a prednisone pack.
By August, I was still unable to really use my right hand and I was not sleeping well at night due to the pain. I continued to do therapy at home, ice baths (ouch) warm magnesium soaks, etc. It was a full- time job and I was also trying to run a business. I finally insisted that this was “not normal” and looked closely at the new x-rays in August showing a very different looking hand as far as the bones were concerned. My doctor shockingly said how sorry he was and that he sees now it is “classic signs of CRPS.” I had never heard of this but he felt that I was in a good place with all the therapies I was utilizing. He felt that I had made such good progress that he felt I may have already put it into remission. The next step was a stellate ganglion block with a pain management specialist. These shots compiled with the therapies I was already doing have given me hope and have allowed me to gain function and to decrease pain to a very manageable level. I also added ozone therapy and hyperbaric chamber therapy as I did not want to leave a single option behind.
The second battle I fought and won was against the insurance company. They denied several times payment of the nerve blocks, the very procedure that with the other therapies will, according to my doctor, leave me with a normal hand within the next several months.
What is one thing you wish those without CRPS/RSD could understand?
This disorder affects not just the physical body, but the psyche of the individual dealing with it. It is debilitating and causes multiple layers of dysfunction beyond just the pain.
What advice would you give to newly diagnosed Warriors?
When you are newly diagnosed, you need to hit the ground running with everything you have. Time is of the essence with this disorder and science has not quite caught up with this disease. Be your own advocate and find multiple ways to treat this including natural therapies such as acupuncture, ozone therapy, hyperbaric therapy, and massage therapy, when tolerated, as it will work if caught early. Do not give up and be diligent to do all the homework necessary.
What encouragement would you give to Warriors who have had CRPS/RSD for many years?
If this has become a chronic issue for you, you must find natural ways to manage the symptoms. I practice daily Sudarshan Criya breathwork as it calms the nervous system and helps you to get your mental state grounded. Yoga, movement, homeopathic pain management all will allow you to be the captain of the ship and take control back over your body. Your body is a miracle and when you give it the right environment, it can heal itself. Also watch the foods you eat. I did notice quickly that certain foods flared the pain more than others. Try to go on an anti-inflammation diet if you can.
What activities or treatments have helped you find temporary or long term relief?
Acupuncture, physical therapy, ozone therapy, hyperbaric chamber therapy, yoga, cardio, strength training and working diligently with my farm animals all have helped me progress in my healing.
Anything else you would like to add?
Make sure to monitor your “self talk”. I had no idea that I had developed a nervous system disorder, so I started to feel over time that I was “weak” or my body was “less than”. I did all I could to stay positive around that and decided to just make jokes and try to see a positive outcome. I never allowed myself to succumb to the internal conversation of “Why am I not healing when other people heal quicker from this type of injury?” My ego was bruised until my orthopedic surgeon eventually confided in me how amazed he was at not only my progress, but my overall attitude towards what I was dealing with. He feels it is in part contributing to my ability to beat this and put it into full remission. It may be a year after the original trauma that I will regain full use of my right hand without pain, according to him, but I see this as good news. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and if my knuckles do not go back to their pre-injury size, then there are jewelers who can fix all my rings that are just waiting to be worn once again. We can do anything as human beings we want to, we just have to believe.
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