Saturday, September 30, 2006

Why epson salts (magnesium sulfate) helps.

If you google "epson salts crps" you'll find heaps of reasons magnesium helps.

I know a warm epson salts bath makes me feel more relaxed and in less pain. If it does the other things, it's a big plus.

Complex Regional Pain Program - a better life

Click on the archives to the left of the page to see photos and an explanation of what works for me in the fight to beat this disabling condition. Click on the photos for a better look.
The rainforest in the area around the falls is truely beautiful.
Minnion Falls a leisurely half hour or so drive from Byron Bay.
The road beyond Minnion Falls about 30 minutes from home.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - WHAT WORKS FOR ME

  • mirrors (August archives photos)
  • essential oils (still experimenting but amazed so far)
  • breathing out twice as long as in (August)
  • distraction (September archives)
  • magnesium for muscle spasm (September)
  • fish/fish oil for inflamation
  • beetroot for liver protection and antidepressant
  • isometric exercises to reduce pain (September)
  • epson salts warm bath (September)
  • chili cream (capsaicin)
  • heat pack
  • graduated repetition of movements (September)
  • pacing
  • move it or lose it
  • deflated ball gives a great massage (see photo September)
  • butterball bath bomb
  • water relaxes, calms,slows and improves breathing, helps sleep (September)
  • Caring Doctors (September)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Crocs feel like walking on cushions. They're made of foam, not rubber so they don't encourage your foot to sweat and have a raised arch for support. I got mine today after the lady who makes my shoes recommended them. They take out the jarring effect of walking in normal shoes. They also mould to your foot as you wear them. Crocs rock!
Market day again. As usual we went whale watching at the Cape.
Saw lots of whales, dolphins and a turtle.
These kayakers are just off Main Beach in Byron.The water's not as clear today.
Click on the photo to see the kayaks better.
Click on Archives September and August at the left of this page for more info and photos.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

You'll have to imagine the dolphins beyond the shore waves where 3 whales earlier played.
Today was another beautiful day.

Just helping a local fisherman. Nice bream!
A Striated Pardalote watched as we walked along our beach.

Click on photos for a better look.


Controlled breathing works. Does oxygen play a part?

I've mentioned before that breathing out twice as long as in has the effect of reducing raised blood pressure (in my case 20/20 in 15 minute). It activates the parasympathetic nervous system bringing about a closer balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. I am interested in the role oxygen plays in this and in pain states. This article is really worth reading. Food for thought.


A soothing suggestion.

One of the comments on this blog inspired another crps sufferer to give it a go. My friend is so pleased with the result she's hoping to make it a regular thing. Great suggestion. Thanks.
if you're willing and able to have a bit of a splurge, one of the best things for dry skin is the butterball bath bomb from lush. they're full of body butter, and the heat of the bath helps to soak it into the skin. works wonders, particularly for people who are sensitive to touch. also excellent in a cold bath if you're sunburnt - takes the dryness away and helps to stop peeling - actually, any cheap body butter is good for sunburn. the bath bombs are about $6.00 each, but worth it.
Got it.

Plunged in after a stick.
(click on photos for a better view.)

Today I chased waves.

This is my deflated ball pressed up against the wall. I move my hand in a circular motion and get a gentle massage.

Deflated ball gives gentle massage.

My physio provided me with a large (about 20cm across), soft ball to use for exercises. If I put the ball against the wall and lean against it with my back, then move up, down and around, the ball gives a gentle massage. You can put any part of your body against the ball. Another great physio suggested putting 2 tennis balls in a sock and, placing them on the wall move your back up and down so it massages either side of the spine or you buttocks or other bady parts. My husband says it's marvelous for trigger points. If you press anywhere on my body it feels like stone bruses so tennis balls are too hard and painful for me. However I highly recommend deflating a soft kid's ball and giving it a go. The ball I have is call "overball" and cost me $14 from my physiotherapist. I think a soft rubber kids ball should work well.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Water provides physical benefits.

It
  • relaxes
  • calms the nervous system by balancing the symapthetic/parasympathetic
  • slows breathing unless exercising
  • decreases pain by raising endorphins
  • improves circulation and skin colour
  • releases muscle spasm and cramp
  • helps us breathe deeper
  • decreases feelings of anxiety
  • helps with sleep
  • increases self satisfaction and sense of well being
Good reasons to get wet.

Monday, September 25, 2006


CRPS explained again.

What is crps/rsd?

In my opinion it's a shitty diagnosis, a burning ring of fire. Complex regional pain syndrome, formally known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy is the name given to a collection of symptoms the worst of which is continuing pain out of the ordinary for the event that caused it. Abnormal changes in temperature, colour, sweating, hair and nail growth, in addition to ongoing pain set crps apart from other pain syndromes. The initiating event may be as simple as hitting your elbow. Light touch is unpleasant or painful, touch that might normally be painful is excessively so. Early diagnosis and treatment usually results in a better outcome. In many sufferers pain persists for years.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Spa therapy warms and relaxes.

We shared drinks and nibblies on a rug at the beach with our wonderful neighbours. As it was cool when we returned they invited us in for a hot spa under the Milky Way.

My physiotherapist had told us that pressure of water activates the parasympathetic
nervous system. I have to tell you that the movement of water gives a gentle massage that helps to take away the pain of activity (doing too much and overstimulating), and the pain of inactivity (after a night in bed).

Spa
  • pressure is calming
  • gentle massage eases pain
  • heat warms the cold parts
  • it's fun
Mmmm. Must do this again.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

See "Archives" at the left of this page for the beginning of my story and an explanation of complex regional pain syndrome.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sometimes I think I've died and gone to heaven.

Today I watched Spaghetti Circus, strolled around Byron's Spring market, bought sarongs for $5, and saw whales breaching their huge bulk in synchronized display on our local beach, watched a brahminy kite swoop along the beach, spotted my favourite bird, the pelican, near home and ducks in our canal. I talked with our family and tonight I'm about to drink champagne while watching TV Turns 50. Life is bliss.

"Green tangle of the branches
Where lithe lianas coil"
Dorothea Mackeller's poem describes it well.

Magnificent crows nests.

A short stroll from the markets you step into this incredible paperbark forest. This remarkable place is within walking distance of the Byron Bay shops and beach.
Today's market charity was the local kids' Spaghetti Circus group. These kids were amazing.

Move it or lose it.

Today I'm recording what I do to keep moving. When I woke up I was painfully aware that I'd been in one position too long. My left side of my face felt as you do if you sit on a hard floor for too long a time. You need to massage your bottom to make the strange numb, pain feeling go away. My left upper body felt the same as did my lower back. Before I got out of bed my husband firmly but gently rubbed his hands over my back. This gets the blood circulating. I then had a hot shower and massaged any parts of my skin I could reach but particularly my left side and lower back. While the hot water warmed my skin I did some foot exercises (basically drawing the arch up under both feet and then relaxing 100 times). I didn't use chilli cream today as we're going to the Byron Spring Market this morning and the chilli sometimes stains my clothes. Next I did a modified version of yoga "salute to the sun". I'll post photos later. This stretches out the back. My face and left ear still hurt as does my back but not as much as before. The more I move the sooner that feeling will calm. (I hope). Market's calling! More later.Well as you'll see from above I 've had a lovely day. Unfortunately as the morning wore on I became in more and more pain and developed that "whole body anxiousness" I've written about before. When this happens it means I've done too much. I did no other physio today. Experiencing the joy of the day kept my focus on happy things. It's too easy to let the other things dominate. So another day I'll chronicle what I do in a day to move it or lose it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oil in the bath softens skin, stops irritation.

When I have warm soaking bath I calm the irritation of dry skin by adding a little oil. I put about a cup of epson salts and some liquid soap, usually Radox or soap on tap or bubble bath in while the water's running. Straight after the bath I gently rub chili cream into any area of burning pain. This works well for me.

Click on the photos for a better look.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

CRPS comments are in red.

You probably realize by now that any comments relating to crps are in red. That is to remind you of my first post in August about crps being like a burning ring of fire.Go to Archive on the left of this page and click on August.

Not everyone feels the pain caused by crps in the same way.
I now have burning in my back and sometimes the backs of my legs but for a long time I didn't have burning pain at all. I have nerve firings like a nerve being prodded. Think being stuck with a pin. My bones sometimes ache. I can ache all over as if I have a fever and have what Dr Wilkie calls "free-floating" anxiety. You just can't pin down what's making you anxious. (I strongly recomment Dr Wilkie's books The Home Psychiatrist and Understanding Stress Breakdown.)
Pain varies in type and intensity all the time. When I read about others with crps, I thought I couldn't have this condition. However, things we all have in common are the vascular signs, (cold/hot, colour changes, and pain from light touch or excessive pain for the type of touch.
If you haven't read my notes on mirror therapy yet, look for the leg pictures. I am amazed each day at the response I get from such a simple cost free pain, free technique.

The benefits of water.

I really love being in water. My special physiotherapist explained that the pressure of water helps to bring about a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. I think it's because it calms the sympathetic system. She said water's best for this condition at 33degrees. I know 22-24 degrees is less than ideal but I love swimming in summer and I figure the endorphin raising power of having fun wins out.

Another thing I've discovered about water is that if I'm having whole body nerve firing and I drink a full big glass of water, it settles. I'm not sure why but it works for me.

More planned projects.

If the bird bath turns out I'm planning to glue bits of hebal together and carve as garden sculpture. My wonderful husband loves the garden and has recently taken an interest in orchids. You can pretty much stick them on the trees here and forget about them, so I want to have orchids on the garden art. This is a long term plan.
This plan uses 2 of my coping strategies, distraction and pacing. It has the bonus of satisfaction in acomplishment and enjoyment in the doing.
This is my present project. At first it was going to pelican. Now it's planned to be a bird bath. It's hebal which is recostituted concrete. I use a file and a small engraving tool to scrape out the shape. You can seal and/or paint it. I'll post a photo when it's finished.

I made a dozen white teatowels. It took me 3 weeks but I like them so much I'm planning on making another dozen.
This is an old stained table that I covered with rice paper pictures. My husband painted on varnish which gave it a durable surface. I took a few months to finish.
Three weeks in the making and tennis elbow from the making but I think this tea cosey rocks.

I've learnt that I might take a while but a little at a time I can still achieve.

I used to paint. I can no longer do fine work. It took me a long time to find something I could and also wanted to do. In the past 2 years this is what I've done.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Caring and inquiring doctors are priceless

Firstly let me say even though my orthopedic surgeon didn't diagnose crps after a colles fracture he was indeed caring. He put the pain I was in down to the severity of the break. Now I know that up to 35% of colles wrist fracture patients develop crps. I also now know that a UK double blind study has shown that taking 500mg of vitamin C after a colles wrist fracture can prevent development of crps. A google search vitamin c crps will show new studies presently being undertaken to support the UK study. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which counteracts the inflammatory response which occurs after injury. I personally suspect that if vitamin C was given to everyone with wrist injury or operation and perhaps all injury patients, there may be less development of crps.
Over the 8 years since my accident I've found several wonderful doctors who have believed me, spent time searching when they didn't know the answers and were prepared to admit when they didn't know and couldn't help. Dr Andrea Riha devised a plan and methodically carried out treatment trials. When it became apparent that drug therapy was not appropriate, Dr Rhia did not drag me through even more trials but told it as it was. I am grateful for that. Dr Bill Wilkie, psychaitrist, helped me look for alternatives and answered all my questions always respecting my need to understand and have some control. He's a very clever person with a thirst for knowledge. The third Doctor, in my local GP practice, DR Liz Elliot really inspired me with confidence to keep searching. She's shown me great respect. Dr Elliot also is thirsty for knowledge and looks outside the square. Sometimes she gives me so much information my tired and addled brain can't process or remember. The more I read the more I remember that it's something Dr E has told me and with time I can understand. I feel blessed to have found these three wonderful people. They don't have all the answers but I have confidence that together we can overcome this condition.

What works for me so far

  • mirrors
  • essential oils (still experimenting but amazed so far)
  • breathing out twice as long as in
  • distraction
  • magnesium for muscle spasm
  • fish/fishoil for inflamation
  • beetroot for liver protection and antidepressant
  • isometric exercises to reduce pain
  • epson salts warm bath
  • chili cream (capsaicin)
  • heat pack
  • graduated repetition of movements
  • pacing

Pacing works for me

I've found, as have many others, that if I'm feeling a less shitty or a bit energetic, I go like the clappers at doing "whatever" only to pay for it later by nerves firing wildly, agitation and aching like I'm running a fever. I'm cope far better if I pace myself, do what I want to do but take longer about it. I don't sit too long, stand too long, walk too far (without a break), use the computer too long, hold things too long. You get the picture. I wanted to make a dozen tea towels. One day I measured, next I cut, next I washed, next I ironed etc until after 3 weeks I had a dozen beautiful white teatowels. Now I'm making a bird bath out of hebel. I spend 10 minutes or so at a time, couple of days break and 10 more minutes. I'll take a picture when it's finished. I've decided not to get frustrated about how much I can or can't do but be happy with the doing.

Move it! Move it! Move it!

This works for me. I have trouble walking far as my feet become stimulated and nerves fire. I've found that if I walked the same distance over and over and then a little further, and then the new distance over and over and then a little further, I could gradually increase what I could do. My feet came to accept what I did as normal. In the same way I lay on the floor with my arms by my side and raised each arm up and over towards the floor above my head. I did this one arm at a time. At first I could only move my arms part of the way, but I kept doing it for no more than 15 times once a day. After two weeks I could reach the floor. I keep doing it each day now increasing the difficulty just a little. I start with a movement that doesn't hurt much and repeat it to the point of boredom, then either gradually increase repetitions or difficulty and do it over and over again. I've managed using this method to both increase time I can spend doing something and increase range of movement.

Mirror works again

Whilst I've been sitting here up loading photos my right foot (in the area previously diagnosed as morton's neuroma) has been throbbing. Like a pulsating rhythm the nerves fired intruding on my concentration, demanding I pay attention. So I went to the mirror and placed my body side on to the mirror and watched the mirror image of my left foot as I moved my foot (raising the arch as I contracted my foot keeping it flat on the ground). I didn't think it would work this time as at the same time as I was doing this looking at my mirror image moving painlessly, I was aware that my right foot continued to throb. I came back to the computer and a short time later realized the pain had gone. I did the movement I'd done with the left foot and it caused no pain. I understand how it works but I still continue to be amazed that it does.
These are the sweetest strawberries imaginable
and they stay fresh for days (if they last that long).


mmm Growers' Market. Must be Thursday. Blair of Fisherman's Bounty
has my omega 3 rich smoked trout. Our stumpy tail cattle dog loves
Blair's sprinkles made from the skin and bone of of the trout.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

He didn't waste much effort on burying it.

"Just guarding my chew."
After all that a bloke needs a drink.

Wish I had his moves!


Up close and personal in our kayak.
No cattle to round up sooo...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Free range chooks at Bruns Rest Stop, one of my favourite things about Brunswick Heads. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 04, 2006

Heat packs work for me

Heat or pressure override pain messages which is why you can fell in less pain when using a heat pack. This phenominon is called the Gate Theory. Google "gate theory" to learn more.

Chilli cream works for me for burning pain

Over the years burning pain has increased for me. It's mostly in my lower back but extends to the backs of both legs and right up the back. The pain can be quite nauseating. My wonderful husband applies firm massage to the burning area for a short time (too firm is painful as is light touch and for too long is over stimulating). I then have an epson salts soak for 20-30minutes. My husband then rubs chilli cream in until it disappears. I make my own chili cream as I'm allergic to something in prepared cream. The active ingredient in chile is capsaicin which breaks down substance p. As the body continues to make substance p you need to keep applying it. Medline has information about capsaicin cream. The cream works for me and helps me get some sleep if I have the bath late in the day and apply it. I also apply a heat pack.

Supplements that help me

Two years ago, when I was told I could not be given any medicinal pain relief due to unacceptable side effects, my wonderful Pain Psychiatrist, Dr Bill, handed me back some control. Like other crps sufferers who've had similar news, I felt abandoned by the medical profession. He wrote down for me, "For chronic inflamation - Avoid animal - derived fats and coconut oil/cream. Magnesium helps reduce pain and muscle spasm. Ultramuscle - take 1 tsp in water each morning and night. Magmin is best Mg Aspartate or alternatively 1/4tsp of Epson Salts in a large glass of water every day. Increase fish oil Omega3, cheap tinned salmon, mullet, and fish oil capsules - start off 2 capsules daily and after one week up it to 4 capsules a day. Increase olive oil and olives. No dairy food and no chicken fat. To reduce homocysteine and toxins etc - eat beetroot regularly - this interacts with homocysteine to produce methionine (liver protector) and SAMethionine (SAMe), a natural antidepressant. Cut out tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate.
Exercise - Resistance exercise (isometric) will reduce pain for 90 minutes. (it releases a growth hormone that antagonises inflammatory hormones"
I've noticed that during times of acute muscle spasm flare ups, increasing magnesium helps. I also soak in epson salts baths. Usually health food shops and some chemists sell it cheaply in bulk. I drink Madura tea as its lower in caffeine.
  • magnesium for muscle spasm
  • fish/fish oil for inflamation
  • beetroot - liver protector and antidepressant
  • isometric exercises reduce pain for up to 90 minutes.
This is what I do and what helps me. Seek advice from treating professionals.

Migraines cause acute nerve firing

For me migraines trigger acute nerve firing in my head, in the side of my head at the site of the migraine. A nerve fires with the intensity of pain of trodding a raw tooth nerve. Think how it feels when the dentist blows air over an exposed nerve and magnify that pain. The nerve fires every few seconds and goes on for around 3 weeks slowly peatering out. I generally have odd nerve firings for weeks afterwards. I've been given Tegretol and Neurontin but they cause unacceptable side effects. I also don't think either made a difference. I just lie still till the firing eases. It's excruciating. My wonderful pain psychiatrist, Dr Bill, remembered UK research on Vitamin B2 for preventing migraine. His suggestion was "take VitB complex extra strong 400mg of Vitamin B2 in 4 divided doses per day to prevent migraine and acidosis." I actually find that Natures Own MegaB150 with 150mg B2 taken once a day in the morning works for me. He also told me to sip dark grape juice if I do get a headache. I do occasionally get one but it's usually mild. I take 2 Aspro Clear and sip dark grape juice. It works for me.
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