Friday, March 30, 2007

Intergrative Medicine serves patients well.

The Intergrative Medicine conference was fascinating. I was very pleased I managed to understand most of what was said.
Firstly, Dr Russell Vickers spoke and he really knew his business. I went there with preconcieved ideas that they would be talking about supplements. Dr Vickers gave an excellent presentation explaining first about pain and the different kinds of pain and quite a bit about neuropathic pain syndrome mentioning Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

He then went on to explain pain in relation to face, mouth nerve pain and outlined alternative treatments for neuropathic pain. We were provided with information and notes which had explanations of terms in chronic pain pathophysiology and CRPS was one of the terms listed. It was described as

"Chronic pain syndrome spreading beyond injured peripheral nerve field, often with burning pain, neuralgic shooting pain, allodynia, hyperalagesia."

He talked about how pain is described providing printouts of pain questionaires. He mentioned physical signs eg dry mouth and other descriptions eg stabbing, burning etc and then how pain makes you feel eg disturbed sleep etc.

Then Dr Vickers went on to outline how he does research into herbs for biopsychosocial pain management. He showed the instruments he uses to accurately measure and guarantee quality of liquid extract which is used in research. His work is science based and measurable. I feel good about that as I'm more inclided to trust scientific outcomes. We were given a handout listing specific herbal liquid extracts that he uses, with indications for use, warnings and general information.

Basically he explained very well what he does and why he does it and followed that up with examples of case studies with treatment and outcomes. A really excellent presentation.

Professor Cohen then spoke giving a general overview of various alternative therapies and how they can be used in an intergrative approach. He went on to explain his current research telling us about money available for research into intergrative medicine and that he and his collegues have been busy putting together proposals for research.

The evening then went on to a networking session for therapists and ended with a panel discussion.

All in all I was very pleased I went this evening as I really learnt something.

Intergrative Medical Conference on Pain Management.

I've been invited to attend with a friend the Intergrative Medical Conference on pain Management held in Byron Bay tonight. Professor Marc Cohen, founding Head of the Department of Complementary Medicine at RMIT and Dr Russell Vickers, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, Oral facial Pain Specialist, Homeopath and herbalist will be key speakers.

I'm really looking forward to hearing what they have to say and will post tomorrow about the conference and current intergrative management of pain.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A little regular exercise is best for me.

My physiotherapist also understands that crps needs a whole body balanced therapy approach. I've learned that a little often allows my body to become comfortable with movement. I'll give you an example.

For at least 2 years I've had reduced movement in my left shoulder. It was suggested I lay flat on the ground with my arms at my side. I raised my right arm up and over my head to the ground whilst breathing in, and then lowered the arm breathing out more slowly than in. I did this on alternate sides with the left arm going as far as comfortable. I did this 15 times once a day. After 3 weeks I could move my arm as freely on the left side as the right. I need to keep doing this as my left side takes the strain of my inability to use my right hand properly (due to stiffness post fracture). If I forget, get complacent for a week my problems return. Physical therapy requires continued practice.

Controlled breathing helps with symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome.

life is bliss! Most days I walk along our pristine beach looking across to Cape Byron lighthouse where whales display, breach and whack their huge pectoral fins playfully as they journey south.
Thursdays we go to the growers' market in Byron where we replenish our stocks of fresh organic fruits, nuts, vegies, meat, fish and my personal favourite, sourdough fruit and nut bread. When I work out how to post photos I'll share this with you. A trip to Byron, 15 minutes from home, is never complete without a visit to the Cape, Australia's most easterly point. The Cape has a special feel which draws people there again and again. Sometimes we drop in to Wategoes or The Pass before heading back to town for a coffee. Friday we are back in Byron, this time for yoga exercises and breathing with a very special physiotherapist. This lady's taught me something which has helped greatly. In essence, if you breathe out twice as long as you breath in you'll support the parasympathetic nervous system. This has a calming effect both emotionally and physically. I can reduce my blood pressure by 20 points in 15 minutes of breathing this way.

This works for me. Seek the advice of treating professionals.
Focusd on fun.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The beach this morning. It's autumn but the water's still warm and inviting.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Can you know another's pain?

Recently a philosopher wrote on the How to Cope with Pain web site "How do you know anything about another's mind?" Specificaly he was asking how we can know another's pain.
This is relevant to chronic pain sufferers as we have to soldier on and not put our pain, "in you face", as it were. For our own survival and the benefit of others we focus away from our pain, altering our perception of it and presenting a coping, "it's ok" face to others.
I suspect that not only do we not know another's pain, we sometimes do not "know" our own pain.

There are two articles in the series. I found them really interesting and, because they made me think, a great distraction. If interested go to the link under crps/rsd related articles to the left of this blog and click on the "How to Cope with Pain " link.

Commitments sometimes make it hard to pace myself.

Today and tomorrow will require much more non stop activity and a certain amount of stress. Sometimes the direction life takes us impacts on our sensible life choices. Pacing and keeping stress to a minimum is a survival plan for me. In very recent times there have been five passing on from this life, neighbours, friends and one family member. Two neighbours were 50+. This caused everyone in our small community around that age to re think priorities. People here are talking about living life to the full, a plan I'd gladly embrace.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - each conscious decision gives us control.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome involves unrelenting pain to different degrees, throughout the days. It's easy to feel out of control. It's frightening and the future can seem bleak.

For me each time I make a conscious decision about something I give myself control.
I did not make a conscious decision not to take pain medication. I had no choice. Now I'm grateful that it happened that way as I do not have the side effects of meds. That's a blessing.

It took me a long time to feel there was something I could make a conscious decision about, but now
  • I choose to exercise.
  • I choose to use a heat pack or chilli cream.
  • I choose to soak in an epson salts bath.
  • I choose to do guided imagery (Recognize)
  • I choose to do mirror therapy.
  • I choose to control my breathing to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • I choose to eat smart.

I've made many more conscious decisions and with each conscious decision I become empowered. I know why I make the choices I do and I believe they will help me cope better with the pain and symptoms of crps.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A new approach to pain management.

Several months ago my physiotherapist stopped me in the shopping centre to tell me about a fantastic new book talking about a new approach to pain management. Explain Pain is about "the virtual body" and the relationship of the brain to pain. He offered to loan me "the book by David Butler and Lorimer Moseley. I bought it annd have read it and referred to it many times over. It explains very well how the brain is changed in the case of chronic pain and mentioned.

Apparently children who are born without limbs can feel those limbs. Phantom pain is well known so it is easy to understand that it is the brain that
feels (or provides the message of) pain. In complex Regional Pain Syndrome the brain chronically and excessively feels pain.

There is much research in various countries on mirror therapy for chronic pain. This was explained in enough detail in this book for me to work out how to use the method.

Previously I've had general body and back pain but not extreme pain in one side of the body.
So I had to wait till I had single sided pain. I stood side on to a stand alone mirror and watched my mirror image while I moved my right arm from my side, up and above my head and down again. I did this 10 times, less than a minute, all the time watching my mirror image, my left side hidden behind the mirror. I felt my left shoulder relax and put it down to distraction. An hour or so later I noticed the edge had gone off the pain and with it nausea. A couple of hours later I repeated the process just as before. I was aware that evening that I was in less pain. I repeated the exercise the next day and day after and by the third day the pain was only in my shoulder as it originally was. Then my right leg became very painful. I tried the mirror trick only hiding my right side and moved my left leg (which was by then pain free). I didn't feel the leg relax as I had with the shoulder but the pain was a little less. Again I repeated the exercise and after a few days the leg returned to normal.

I've repeated the process many times since with recovery times depending on the severity and location of the flare up. Each and every time I've eventually been able to reduce the pain and symptoms.

I encourage others to talk with your treating practitioners. Many Australian physiotherapists are now trained in guided motor imagery and mirror box therapy.
In the UK a pharmaceutical company has funded mirror boxes for UK pain clinics and the Australasian NOI Group who is behind Explain Pain and Recognize, guided motor program has facilities in Canada, Europe and the USA.

I've placed links to the NOI Group site in Canada, Europe and the USA.
If interested go to crps/rsd related articles to the left of this blog and click on the links.


What I do works for me. Seek advice of treating professionals.

Controlled breathing is calming.

Life is bliss! Most days I walk along our pristine beach looking across to Cape Byron lighthouse where whales display, breach and whack their huge pectoral fins playfully as they journey south.
Thursdays we go to the growers' market in Byron where we replenish our stocks of fresh organic fruits, nuts, vegies, meat, fish and my personal favourite, sourdough fruit and nut bread. When I work out how to post photos I'll share this with you. A trip to Byron, 15 minutes from home, is never complete without a visit to the Cape, Australia's most easterly point. The Cape has a special feel which draws people there again and again. Sometimes we drop in to Wategoes or The Pass before heading back to town for a coffee. Friday we are back in Byron, this time for yoga exercises and breathing with a very special physiotherapist. This lady's taught me something which has helped greatly. In essence, if you breathe out twice as long as you breath in you'll support the parasympathetic nervous system. This has a calming effect both emotionally and physically. I can reduce my blood pressure by 20 points in 15 minutes of breathing this way. She also understands that crps needs a whole body balanced therapy approach. I've learned that a little often allows my body to become comfortable with movement. I'll give you an example.
For at least 2 years I've had reduced movement in my left shoulder. It was suggested I lay flat on the ground with my arms at my side. I raised my right arm up and over my head to the ground whilst breathing in, and then lowered the arm breathing out more slowly than in. I did this on alternate sides with the left arm going as far as comfortable. I did this 15 times once a day. After 3 weeks I could move my arm as freely on the left side as the right. I need to keep doing this as my left side takes the strain of my inability to use my right hand properly (due to stiffness post fracture). If I forget, get complacent for a week my problems return. Physical therapy requires continued practice.
This works for me. Seek the advice of treating professionals.

Distraction - a great way of coping with pain.

"Distraction! Distraction! Distraction!" Making this blog is proving to be a great distraction. I'm having fun working on it for a short time and coming back again and again. A little often and varying what I do works best for me together with a great distraction.

Treatment for benign positional vertigo is easy

My neighbour has had a recent bout of vertigo and was taught the postural exercises to correct this. They really work and without having to take medicine so I decided to repost this now.

Vertigo! When I fell over getting out of bed this morning it explained my nausea for the past couple of weeks. My lifesaver, physio, Libby explained again the manoever to correct positional vertigo. It's called positional because moving in a certain way triggers an attack eg turning over in bed, bending down, looking up, sneezing. I fell down steep stairs, hitting my head as I rolled, finally breaking my right wrist, the incident which caused crps. Hitting my head caused vertigo in my case. Vertigo is not crps and thankfully a simple manoever fixes it. What works for me is to fold my arms across my chest holding my shoulders, sit on the edge of my bed, turn my head in the opposite direction from the side to which I over balance and drop my back on to the bed. I lie on the bed on my back, head to one side and feet still on the floor. I stay there at least 30 seconds, then get slowly up. I make no sudden movement, look up or bend down for the rest of the day. I've done this once only today and feel much better. I'll do it again before bed time. A google search for "benign positional vertigo exercises" will help explain.

Treatment for benign positional vertigo is easy

My neighbour has had a recent bout of vertigo and was taught the postural exercises to correct this. They really work and without having to take medicine so I decided to repost this now.

Vertigo! When I fell over getting out of bed this morning it explained my nausea for the past couple of weeks. My lifesaver, physio, Libby explained again the manoever to correct positional vertigo. It's called positional because moving in a certain way triggers an attack eg turning over in bed, bending down, looking up, sneezing. I fell down steep stairs, hitting my head as I rolled, finally breaking my right wrist, the incident which caused crps. Hitting my head caused vertigo in my case. Vertigo is not crps and thankfully a simple manoever fixes it. What works for me is to fold my arms across my chest holding my shoulders, sit on the edge of my bed, turn my head in the opposite direction from the side to which I over balance and drop my back on to the bed. I lie on the bed on my back, head to one side and feet still on the floor. I stay there at least 30 seconds, then get slowly up. I make no sudden movement, look up or bend down for the rest of the day. I've done this once only today and feel much better. I'll do it again before bed time. A google search for "benign positional vertigo exercises" will help explain.

Friday, March 23, 2007

CRPS/RSD - taking control

Just an update on CRPS/RSD taking control google group.

We've added a few new pages now as well as discussions such as what works for you and moving your mind. Here's what we have at present
  • Crafts & Hobbies
  • Happy Space
  • Budgeting Ideas
  • Let's write a story page
  • Links to articles, video and research
  • Quotes
  • Recipes, eating smart
  • Something to make us laugh
  • Nutritional Spotlight
and a very important one
  • Our Stories
You can visit our group by clicking on the box at the end of this page. We would like you to join us and make it your group too. You can join us by inserting your email in the box at the top of this page and clicking on subscribe, or visit first and join on the site. There's also a link under crps/rsd related articles to the left of this blog.
Until recently you needed to join to view the site. We've fixed that problem now so feel free to take a look around.

Unfortunately this group is now closed.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

To finish off a great morning we had coffee at this cafe near the beach at Belongil.

There were many sting rays in the clear water today.
Dolphins surfed while a huge turtle fed on a simply enormous jelly fish. Close by a lone small shark chashed a school of fish nearby.
A trip to the Cape after the market.
I thought I might share my day with you.
First - the growers' market in Byron Bay. Here's what I was able to buy today.
These are local and seasonal foods. I cannot buy oranges here now but lemons, limes persimmons and kiwifruit are plentiful. That's persimmon jam in the container. It's tarty as there's little added sugar.
I'll roast the organic garlic, eggplant and capsicans which will be a delicious addition to salads or I might roast the pumpkin with them and put it all on a pizza (I'll add seeds and grains to the base).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A whole grain of truth.

Whole grains are much more than just added fibre in our diet. Research now tells us that the benefit is in the "package" of nutrients (sound familiar).

Professor Slavin from Minnesota University is reported by wholefoodsfarmacy.com as saying that "the individual components of whole grains have an additive and synergistic effect."

This means that the combined nutrient components in whole grains is greater than the sum of the individual component parts. Or to put it simply 1+1 >2 (one plus one is greater than two).

So what are some whole grains?
They are the entire grain seed of a plant. Also known as the kernel, it is made up of three key parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.

Whole wheat, whole oats/oatmeal, whole-grain corn, popcorn, brown rice, whole rye, whole-grain barley, wild rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, quinoa, and sorghum are the more common grains.
Less well known are amaranth, emmer, farro, grano (lightly pearled wheat), spelt, and wheat berries. Spelt is is popular now because of it's higher protein and nutrient content.

Stone-ground corn and polenta have the germ intact so are closest to the whole grain in any ground cornmeal. You can even get whole grain couscous.

Quinoa, not really a grain but considered as one, is another ancient grain which is considered to be almost a wonder food as it contains complete proteine. A friend told me that she uses quinoa instead of couscous.

Soon I'll be posting about specific whole grains and why it is preferable to eat them over refined.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tea for two.

Keeping it simple and enjoyable.

Well I've decided that if I'm going to eat smart it's going to have to be simple and do able and also enjoyable. I won't stick at something if I don't enjoy it.

We've all heard of the health benefits of tea. Flavonoids are a special group of antioxidant phytochemicals found in black and green tea and adding milk doesn't alter the benefit.


It is worth being aware that drinking tea with a meal interfers with the iron intake from foods of plant origin so it is probably better to drink tea between meals.


I've decided that some traditions are worth upholding. For me the tradition of taking tea and enjoying the experience of tea is worth cultivating. So to do this I've searched for a two cup tea pot that pours without dribbling. I have a favourite cup (or two) and a small jug for milk.

I make tea and find a comfortable place to pour and sip and enjoy. I love company and a cuppa is great shared.

I'm lucky that our local tea is lower in caffeine so I can enjoy without problems. I actually think the enjoyable experience of tea for me out weighs the negative impact on pain of the caffeine.

Please seek expert advice before trying new things.

I am not an expert. I'm looking at ways of doing what I do now but doing it more wisely in my opinion. For this reason I've been on a quest to find a way of eating smart.

What I post here is what I've decided to do for myself. It is always wise to seek advice before trying something new. Each of us has our own health issues and what suits one may not suit another.

There is a wealth of information available. In my opinion one of the most sensible, easily understood and helpful sites is the World's Healthist Foods site.
You won't find all foods there but you will find information on natural, healthy foods.

If interested go to the left of this blog and click on the link under "articles of interest".

Monday, March 19, 2007

Red & yellow & pink and green, purple & orange & blue - rainbow foods.

I've thought a lot about this and come to the conclusion that to consume a diet rich in antioxidants for me it's best to think about colour and variety.

If, for example, I'm making a snack box of dried fruits, nuts and seeds, I'll put about the same quantity of as many varieties as I have to hand. Then from the container I take a mix of any amount I want when I want it. That way I know I'm eating a good range of antioxidants in the unique packages nature intended.

In the same way I roughly cut a selection of fruits trying to have a mix of colours. When I shop I now choose a selection of different fruits rather than a bag of oranges or a big bunch of grapes.

Why colours?

Reds contain lycopene and anthocyanims.
- red apples, strawberries, bets, red potatoes, tomatoes.

Yellow/orange contain varying amounts of antioxidants eg vitamin C, carotinoids, bioflavonoids.
- appricots, mangoes, oranges, sweet potatoes & carrots.

Blue/purple contain phytochemicals.
- blueberries, eggplant, dark grapes, plums & rasins.

Greens contain antioxidants lutein & indoles.
- avocadoes, green apples, green grapes, kiwifruit, peas & broccoli.

Whites contain phytochemicals.
- bananas, dates, white peaches & nectarines, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions & potatoes.

I've found that I have to chew both the fresh mix and dried fruit and nuts well. I now take my time to eat and take pleasure from the eating.


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome explained.

In my opinion it's a shitty diagnosis. 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. This blog is an attempt to remind myself about what works for me to help in relieving the pain and symptoms.

An Update on my list of what works for me to help with pain and symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

As other sufferers know, symptoms can vary from day to day and throughout the day. As well as an overall plan to erode back the symptoms, I need to have strategies in place to help with the day to day problems.
Some of the things that help me are

  • mirrors (August archives photos)
  • essential oils (still experimenting but amazed so far)
  • breathing out twice as long as in (August)
  • resperate machine could be used to control breathing(November)
  • distraction (September archives)
  • magnesium for muscle spasm (September)
  • fish/fish oil for inflamation (September)
  • beetroot for liver protection and antidepressant (September)
  • isometric exercises to reduce pain (September)
  • epson salts warm bath (September)
  • chili cream (capsaicin)
  • heat pack (September)
  • graduated repetition of movements (September)
  • pacing
  • move it or lose it
  • deflated ball gives a great massage (see photo Sept)
  • butterball bath bomb (Sept)
  • water relaxes, calms,slows and improves breathing, helps sleep (Sept)
  • Caring Doctors (Sept)
  • Letting go of worries and avoiding stress (Oct)
  • Actively seeking happiness (Oct)
  • I will take vitamin C if I must have surgery as a precaution. (Nov)
  • eat nutrient rich antioxidant foods. Eas smart. (Nov)
  • use Prantal powder for hyperhydrosis (Nov)
  • make a list what works for me as a quick reference. (Nov)
  • don't despare when I have flare up. Refer to the list. (Nov)
  • Doing the same movement in different ways to reinforce that "it's ok"
  • Following a dental procedure which works for me (Nov)
  • Changing thinking, not "what can be done for me" but "what I can do for myself" (Nov)
  • Eating smart - increasing antioxidants especially vitamin C in my diet. (January )
  • Eating smart - making sure I eat a variety of high antioxidant foods including vitamin C. (March 07)
  • Understanding that while it hurts it's not necessarilly harmful!!!

I am a sufferer not a professional. These things work for me about which I am very thankful. If you think something may help you check first with your treating practitioners.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fresh & dried fruit, nuts & seeds are delicious with no/low fat yoghurt.

Mixing fresh fruit varieties helps keep the balance.

In this mix

What?
Plums

Why?
Plums are a good source of vitamin C, A, B2 and potassium and provide essential fibre.
In general plums have the same sorts of health benefits as prunes.
As plums contain oxalates seek advice if you suspect kidney or gallbladder problems.

What?
Dark grapes

Why?
Grapes contain vitamin C and beneficial flavinoids which are phytonutrients that give the vibrant purple color to grapes, grape juice and red wine. Darker colour means more flavinoids.
Grape skins contain phenolic compounds which inhibit certain enzymes having an effect on constricted blood vessels. (My clever Dr Bill recommended sipping grape juice if I have a migraine. I know from my experience that it helps. Is this part of the reason?)
Grapes also contain the phytonutrient, resveratrol, "thought to be responsible for these numerous protective effects on cholesterol metabolism, oxidative stress (free radical activity) and inflammation." - from The World's Healthiest Foods web site. (see link to the left of this blog under "articles of interest"

What?
Apples

Why?
Apples are agreat source of soluable and insoluable fibre.
Apples contain the flavonoid, quercitin's whose benefits derive from its antioxidant activity, especially when it teams up with vitamin C, also found in apples, to bolster the body's immune defenses. This dynamic antioxidant duo provides another way in which apples protect us.
If interested in the research and other health benefits of apples go to the World's Healthiest Foods web site. ( see link to the left of this blog under "articles of interest")

What?
Nectarines & Peaches

Why?
Peaches and nectarines belong to the rose family. They contain vitamins A and C, which promote healthy skin, good eyesight, and a strong immune system. They also are good sources of potassium and fiber.

What?
Kiwifruit

Why?
Kiwifruit is almost a super food. It has great protective powers which go beyond those attributable to its high vitamin C and beta-carotine.
Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, neutralizing free radicals that can cause damage to cells and lead to problems such as inflammation. "Owing to the multitude of vitamin C's health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer." (WHF)
Kiwifruit contains the fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E. making kiwi fruit doulbly protective.

This is the mix for today. I use affordable, fresh fruits in season and try to have a mix of strong colours.
Each day I roughly cut a mix of fresh seasonal fruit and snack throughout the day.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A mix of antioxidant rich foods to snack on throughout the day - dried fruits.

What?
Wolfberries (Goji Berries)

Why?
Wolfberries contain 19 types of amino acids, 11 essential and 22 trace minerals, 6 essential vitamins including B2 and C (as much as oranges), 8 polysaccharides and 6 monosaccharides, 5 fatty acids, 5 cariote, phytosterols, and numerous phenols associated with antioxidant properties.

What?
Prunes

Why?
Prunes contain phenols which are very effective demolishers of the dangerous free radical superoxide anion.
Prunes help prevent oxygen based damage to fats by their vitamin A (beta carotine) content.
Potassium found in prunes is good for both heart and bone health.
Prunes are a good source of fibre and perhaps because of their vitamin C content help the absorption of iron.

There are some extrordinary claims made about wolfberries but that aside ther is no doubting their overall nutrient value.

What?
Black currants

Why?
Black currrants have exceptional neutritional value. They contain several times higher amounts of potassium, iron, vitamin C (4 times that of oranges by weight), organic acids and plant phenolic compounds than other common fruit.
Black currants contain more calcium and iron than other fruits.
Seeds are righ in both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
A real power food.

What?
Dates

Why?
Dates are rich in fibre, niacin and potassium and contain iron and are a good source of antioxidants although some of their antioxidant properties are lost in the drying process.
They are a great energy source but are high in kilojules so are a small part of the nutrient balance.

This mix will change according to what I can affordably buy and will be influenced by my findings on high antioxidant foods.

A mix of antioxidant rich foods to snack on throughout the day - nuts in the mix.

What?
3 brazil nuts

Why?
Three brazil nuts is the body's total daily allowance of selenium, a powerful antioxidant.
Vitamin E & selenium work synergistically in brazil nuts. They also contain glutamine, glutamic acid & arginine & amino acids cystoine & methionne.

What?
Walnuts

Why?
Walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid that supports the immune system.
They are a source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and among other benefits are anti inflammatory, aid brain function and help with stress.

What?
Almonds

Why?
Almonds contain the antioxidant of Vitamin E and monosaturated fats.
A quarter of a cup of almonds contains 99mg of magnesium which improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Almonds contain potassium, an important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles.
Flavonoids is another mineral that is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function.
The flavonoids found in almond skins team up with the vitamin E found in their meat to more than double the antioxidant punch either delivers when administered separately. (shown by a study published in the Journal of Nutrition)

What?
Pecan nuts

Why?
Pecans, walnuts and chestnuts have the highest antioxidant content of the tree nuts.
Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals – including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc.
Pecans are also a natural, high-quality source of protein that contain very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol.

These nuts I've thrown into the mix for now.

I am grateful for to George Mateljin Foundation, The World's Healthiest Foods Organisation especially for their help in providing information. I encourage you to visit their interactive website. Please go to "articles of interest" to the left of this blog and click on the link.

I am also very grateful for the encouragement and support of dietition, Amanda Clark.
Each day I fill a small container with a mixture of dried fruits and nuts.

Eat smart - a matter of choices.

Originally my plan plan was to increase Vitamin C in my diet. I've changed that plan a bit and here's why.

This much is known
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can be prevented by taking Vitamin C after a colles wrist fracture.
  • Professor Scott Reuben now uses Vitamin C as part of their protocols for preventing CRPS developing or worsening of symptoms after orthopeadic surgery etc.

I thought that
  • as Vitamin C is an antioxidant that demolishes the free radicals that cause inflamation
then
  • as CRPS has an inflamatory component
Vitamin C could be used as a treatment for CRPS.

As mentioned in a previous post, research into this is now being done.

I suspected that it is better to get nutrients such as Vitamin C from food. (my unique packages theory)
To support this I now have learned that Vitamin C is a stable antioxidant that gives an electron to a reactive substance such as a free radical.
Vitamin C then is an electron short and so itself becomes a free radical.
As electrons like to be in stable pairs Vitamin C then needs an electron to make it a stable antioxidant again. The antioxidant that gives Vitamin C it's electron then itself becomes a free radical and so it goes.

  1. Vitamin C antioxidant - gives electron to free radical (reactive substance)
  2. Vitamin C free radical - gets electron from antioxidant A which becomes free radical A.
  3. Free radical A - gets electron from antioxidant B which becomes free radical B.
  4. Free radical B - gets electron from antioxidant C which becomes free radical C.
And so it goes.

The process of giving and receiving electrons works well when there are a large number of different antioxidants working together. Too much of one thing puts the balance out.

That said I now am planning a diet rich in a variety of antioxidants. By doing this I am also making sure I'm getting much more Vitamin C than I have from my food till now.




Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Black ducks this morning.

Bream feeding on bread where the sting ray was yesterday.
Click on photos for a better look.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You have got to see this hilarious pain video on "How to Cope with Pain" web site.

How to Cope with Pain web site has posted an hilarious video about pain perception.

If you are actively seeking happiness too then check it out by going to crps/rsd related articles to the left of this blog and click on the link.

While your at the How to Cope with Pain web site check out some of the great information there.
This stingray's been stiring up the bottom feeding. We see this one often, recognising it by its cut short tail, so I suspect it might be seasonally territorial. The water is tannin from local tea trees.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Study about Vitamin C as a possible treatment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

I'm reposting this article and am at present trying to discover if the study has been completed and if the results have been published. "Watch this space!" as the saying goes.

Dr Andrew McBride of Bristol Royal Infirmary is currently doing a study to support previous research into reducing the incidence of development of CRPS post wrist injury by taking vitamin C. The study is has it's basis in the theory that CRPS is possibly partly caused by an inflamatory reaction.


At present it's now known that free radical disarming Vitamin C can prevent development of CRPS after a colles fracture. It is an antioxidant which specifically affects inflamation. As inflamation is a problem for sufferers of CRPS to me it make sense that Vitamin C could be useful to disarm free radicals and address inflamation in sufferers of CRPS.


Professor Reuben who was involved in developing protocols for preventing CRPS after surgery, says that his team now incorporates Vitamin C in the protocols.

I"ve already increased vitamin C in my diet. I increase this through diet when I have flare ups. This, I believe, together with mirror therapy, and other things on my list has helped me recover more quickly from major flare ups. Each time now I'm getting better in weeks instead of months or sometimes years depending on the place of flare up.

To read about it go to "crps/rsd related articles" to the left of this blog and click on the link.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Share your stories of your journey with crps.

Each of us with complex regional pain syndrome has a unique story to tell, however what we share is unrelenting pain.

The google group crps/rsd taking control now has a section where you can share your stories. It's under the section "To the new members".

Recently we've added new pages so you can now share a joke or tell us what you do that is creative and helps to distract from pain and symptoms.

Remember this new google group is for all of us to share ideas and suggestions. Please suggest ways of improving things and invite others to join.

Please note - this group has regretably been closed.
You can visit by clicking at the end of this page or join by putting your email in the box at the top of the page or go to

http://groups.google.com/group/crpsrsd?lnk=srg

or go to "crps/rsd related articles" at the left of this blog and click on the link.

Dr Lorimer Moseley's interview on How to Cope with Pain website.

I'm putting a direct link to Dr Lorimer Moseley's interview on How to Cope with Pain website.
I encourage sufferers to read the article and look up research on graded motor imagery and mirror box therapy.

Go to "crps/rsd related articles" to the left of this blog and click on the link.

Friday, March 09, 2007


A new Pacific island breached the ocean surface in August 2006 from the eruption of a volcano in the Tonga island chain. Pumice stone floating on the surface was the first sign of an eruption. Gases trapped like bubbles in the magma cause the pumice, frothed volcanic glass, to be buoyant.

I took this photo yesterday of goose neck barnicles on the pumice which has taken all this time to reach the east coast of Australia. Our local radio alerted locals to the find.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Comment from "How tto Cope with Pain about the Recognize program.

How to Cope with Pain said...

I think the recommended 3-part sequence of activities goes 1) L/R pictures, then 2) imagining your foot/hand in the same position as the picture, then the last step is 3) putting your foot/hand in the same position. My understanding is that the "treatment" doesn't work, and could even make things worse, if you don't do it in the proper sequence. The program is discussed at http://www.howtocopewithpain.org/blog/30/think-and-move-and-your-pain-may-improve/

My understanding is that it's a slow re-programming of the brain thru doing the sequence as listed. It shouldn't be a focus on your "score," but doing the exercises enough that your scores improves as your brain "heals."

My understanding is also that you should stick with 1st stage until your brain "re-trains," (which will be demonstrated by your score improving.)
www.howtocopewithpain.org/blog

Thank you so much for posting. I've taken note of what you've said.
Please go to "crps/rsd related articled" to the left of this blog and click on the link to How to Cope with Pain.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Strategies to help cope day to day and with flare ups from complex regional pain syndrome.

As other sufferers know, symptoms can vary from day to day and throughout the day. As well as an overall plan to erode back the symptoms, I need to have strategies in place to help with the day to day problems.
Some of the things that help me are

  • mirrors (August archives photos)
  • essential oils (still experimenting but amazed so far)
  • breathing out twice as long as in (August)
  • resperate machine could be used to control breathing(November)
  • distraction (September archives)
  • magnesium for muscle spasm (September)
  • fish/fish oil for inflamation (September)
  • beetroot for liver protection and antidepressant (September)
  • isometric exercises to reduce pain (September)
  • epson salts warm bath (September)
  • chili cream (capsaicin)
  • heat pack (September)
  • graduated repetition of movements (September)
  • pacing
  • move it or lose it
  • deflated ball gives a great massage (see photo Sept)
  • butterball bath bomb (Sept)
  • water relaxes, calms,slows and improves breathing, helps sleep (Sept)
  • Caring Doctors (Sept)
  • Letting go of worries and avoiding stress (Oct)
  • Actively seeking happiness (Oct)
  • Taking vitamin C if I must have surgery or dental work as a precaution. (Nov)
  • eat nutrient rich antioxidant foods. Eas smart. (Nov)
  • use Prantal powder for hyperhydrosis (Nov)
  • make a list what works for me as a quick reference. (Nov)
  • don't despare when I have flare up. Refer to the list. (Nov)
  • do the same movement in different ways to reinforce that "it's ok"
  • follow a dental procedure which works for me (Nov)
  • change thinking, not "what can be done for me" but "what I can do for myself" (Nov)
  • Eat smart - increasing antioxidants especially vitamin C in my diet. (January )
  • Understand that while it hurts it's not necessarilly harmful!!!
  • apply pressure with my hand to the apparent site for nerve firing.
  • sip warm camomile tea.
  • massage my face with moisturiser.
  • cover my skin to protect it from the breeze of the fan.
I am a sufferer, not a professional. These things work for me about which I am very thankful. If you think something may help you check first with your treating practitioners.

"Recognize" - a program to retrain the brain.

The NOI Group has created a novel computer program to tell whether you can identify a pictured limb as left or right. The program starts with simple pictures on a manilla background and allows you to gradually progress to more difficult tasks.

I started the program last week. You may remember that I have already been doing my own version of mirror therapy with some amazing results (amazed me). It's recommended that this program precede the beginning of mirror therapy. Until now I hadn't realized that it is used to correct a right/ left confusion. I did not realize that my (rather obvious) right/left confusion could be related to chronic pain or crps.

Well I did the first most basic test (coloured photos of single foot on manila background), and am almost ashamed to admit that try as I might, I cannot get 100%. When I first did the test I had very significant left sided pain. My results were 60% left and 80% right. I thought "practice makes perfect". Well, no!

I thought slower would give a better result (so I slowed the time between pictures from 5 to 25 seconds). I got a worse score. However when the left sided pain settled, the results for the left side went up to 85%.

Today I have a nasty headache on the left side which is flaring up again, slept very poorly last night and feel generally below par. Today I scored 30% left and 40% right.

I thought about it and slowed the test down to a minute. Then I placed each foot in the same position as the pictures. This time I got a good result. I'll next practice making my feet do the positions till I get faster and try the test again. As you can imagine, each time you do the test the pictures are different.

I'm thinking that by doing this with hands and feet I'm retaining the brain. I know this works when I lose proprioception. I practice while watching myself move until I can look away and make the movements. If it works that way to correct proprioception, I think it should work to fix my lefts and rights.

To hear David Butler's podcast about the program "Recognize" go to"crps/rsd related articles" to the left of this blog and click on the link.



Scientists at Manchester in the UK can use computer technology to alieviate pain.

Earlier today I posted about mirror treatment. I explained that the idea of treating sufferers of complex regional pain syndrome with mirrors came out of successful treatment of phantom limb pain. Like phantom limb pain CRPS is driven by incorrect brain messages from an unconscious brain. (We cannot control the unconscious brain only the conscious one.)
Now scientists at Manchester University in the UK have discovered that phantom limb pain can also be alleviated using a virtual reality computer system. In a similar way to mirror therapy the brain is tricked into believing that everything is OK.

If this works for phantomv limb pain then it makes sense to think that the pain and symptoms of CRPS can possibly be relieved using the same method.

The real benefit to CRPS sufferers is that virtual reality brain retraining might work for central (down the back), and whole body pain. Because mirror therapy works by looking at the mirror image of the "good" side, it hasn't been useful for pain that is not one sided.

This is exciting research and offers real hope.

See "CRPS/RSD related articles" to the left of this blog and click on the related link.

"Explain Pain" really does clearly and simply explain pain.

This blog is about what works for me. I encourage sufferers to refer to their professionals for advice.

I'd found information about "the virtual body" on the internet, but until I read Dr Lorimer Moseley and David Butler's book "Explain Pain", I hadn't realized the vital part the brain plays in our perception of pain. It's helped me understand better and change my focus from "what could be done for me" to "what I could do for myself". I encourage anyone suffering chronic pain to seek out the book and read for yourselves. Australian libraries should have it. I've been told some physiotherapist will lend it. Information on the book is on the NOI Group website. Go to the left of this blog to "Articles of interest" and click on the link.

As mentioned in previous posts Ramachandran in the Us did the origional research but there is no doubt Australian physiotherapists have embraced the new approach to understanding and pain management.
Dr Lorimer Moseley employed a motor imagery program which was "two weeks each of hourly performance of a hand laterality recognition task, imagined hand movements and then mirror therapy."(notes from 8th International Physiotherapy Congress) Personally I did not follow that regime but just used a mirror as described. It really does work for me just using a mirror, hiding the painful part and watching the mirror image of the non painful part performing a movement that would be painful for the other part. I believe many physiotherapists use Dr Moseley's method which would undoubtedly be the best way to go. I contacted the authors of "Explain Pain" about how it could be applied to whole body or back, essentially body parts that cannot have a mirror image. David Butler, co author, indicated that research has been done on hands and feet at this stage. He did mention that it has been shown to work for pain after single sided mastectomy. Pacing and graded exposure is very well explained in the "Explain Pain" book. G. Lorimer Moseley and David Butler co authored this excellent book. www.noigroup.com will give you information.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Complex Regional Pain at a glance.

In my opinion it's a shitty diagnosis. 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. This blog is an attempt to remind myself about what works for me to help in relieving the pain and symptoms.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Following a proven treatment regime works again.

I am relieved to say that again I've managed to control the major flare up which this time resulted in only one week of extreme nerve firing. Usually it peaters out after three weeks.

I write about following a plan and referring to my list but I'm always amazed and relieved when it works. My brain keeps telling me this is beyond me and I have a fear the pain will never stop but again the nerve firing has finally stopped. My face and left side are still hypersensitive but much better.

The main things that helped were things that brought about calm
  • immersing in water (pressure of water activates the parasympathetic nervous system)
  • controlled breathing, out twice as long as in (activates parasympathetic nervous system)
mirror therapy (shows the brain that the painful part is ok/very calming)

Other most helpful things were chilli cream and pressure (both work on the gate theory and capsaicin in chilli cream deals with substance p).

It's really empowering to feel you have some control over what can seem an out of control pain syndrome.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Food provides the best and safest way to consume nutrients in my opinion.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported findings of Dutch research into the effect of antioxidant supplements on mortality from 68 randomized trials with 232 606 participants. It was found that beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E, increased mortality.

Please notice that at present vitamin C is considered safe as it's water soluable. Even so, the best and safest way to get nutrients such as antioxidants, I believe, is through food.
My reasoning is that food comes in unique packages which provide the right combination of nutrients for the optimum use by the body.

I am personally convinced that increasing antioxidants in diet could help us with crps. My reasoning is that crps is stressful (not to mention all the other stressors in our lives). Stress, whether from pain, environmental or emotional causes, makes us oxidize. Oxidation is normal but too much produces excessive amounts of free radicals. Some free radicals cause inflammation (one problem with crps). Antioxidants demolish free radicals.

Antioxidants are thought to be most effective when consumed together.
The best way to go is to get a range of free radicals and the very best way to get them is through food. Just how to improve diet to increase antioxidant intake is what I'm working on at present.

Very briefly

  • Smart eaters consume all the carotinoids. Carotenoids create the colour in plants.Reds & yellows signifiy immune boosting carotinoids.
  • We are advised that a recommended healthy diet contains 5 veg & 2 fruit of mixed colours, 40%of diet fruit & veg, 500gm of fruit & veg daily.This of course depends on whether you have fresh or dried etc.
  • Each day eat one of each colour group, red, orange, yellow, blue/purple and white.
  • Mix colours in every meal but always try to include green and orange. The deeper the colour the higher nutrient value.
Canned or frozen fruit and veg are, I think, just as nutritious as fresh. (check additives eg sugar & salt)

I personally increase the vitimin C foods when I have acute flare ups. I also take a supplement before dental work or with nerve firing acute flare ups. I don't give this as advise.

Some supplements interfere with drugs so seeking advice is best.

So far research has been done proving vitamin C can prevent crps from developing from surgery etc. See previous posts. I do not know of any research showing vitamin C as a treatment for crps but I have seen it suggested in light of its preventative qualities. To me it makes sense that extra vitamin C together with other antioxidants would be helpful if only in controlling inflamation. This is my personal opinion, not a recommendation. I do not offer this as advice.

I've nearly finished putting together my thoughts and plan about "eating smart" and will post more soon.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The pain and symptoms of CRPS change throughout the day but sticking to a plan helps.

Yesterday morning I was confident that the nerve firings were less frequent and less intense but that changed as the day wore on until I was convinced I was losing the battle. Although my rational brain reminded me that the two previous mornings things were getting better, the agonizing nerve firing was overwhelming and again I struggled to think what to do.

I added these to my previous list.
  • I applied pressure with my hand to the apparent site of the firing.
  • I sipped warm camomile tea.
  • I massaged my face with moisturiser.
  • I covered my skin to protect it from the breeze of the fan.
  • I used an antiseptic mouth wash in case there was and problem there.
Again before bed I rubbed my home made chilli cream on my face and neck. I lay as still as I could and used controlled breathing. Finalli I slept and am better today.

Today I'm avoiding loud noise and vibrations and sudden movements. It's 11.30am here and so far things are not getting worse again. Although I am still struggling with this I know that I'm actually managing things this time. In the past the acute phase went on for weeks.
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