Wednesday, December 31, 2008

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be."

I've sent this post to be part of How to Cope with Pain's last blog carnival for 2008. However with so much happening I left it too late to be included. However I encourage you to click on this blog title for the link and see what others have to offer.

This Karen Raven quote holds true for people with chronic pain.

Life, as they say, is not a rehearsal. We get one go at it. The choices we make direct out path in life. I choose happiness.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain killers, and produces a general sense of well-being. The threshold of pain is raised during and for a short period of time after laughter.

Laughter also engages various parts of the brain. Perhaps this is one reason people often find that a good dose of laughter can be followed by a burst of creativity.

We know that by making positive affirmations pain perception can be reduced by up to an amazing two thirds.
(Conversely, you can actually increase pain perception by focusing on negative aspects and fearing your pain.)

These findings make perfect sense to me. I know when I talk about how I'm feeling, I feel worse. When I'm having fun I feel better. Now I know I can actually change the inputs which bring about a change in the brain, I'll be more aware of how I think and feel. I'll also be dedicating more time to "actively seeking happiness" and strive to see "the glass half full."

I encourage you to expand your knowledge, reach to grow. Only by seeking information can you go forward. By looking the way will become clear. I encourage you to dare to dream of a better life. "As much as I dream can I be".

Go to "crps/rsd related articles" to the left of this blog and click on the direct link to the article, "Natural Born Pain killers" in that explains the research behind this thinking.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Meditation reduces stress, eases pain. Check out Scenic Video's new meditation offerings on their own Utube channel.

Jay of Scenic Videos is now producing videos for quiet meditation. His videos are quality productions. I recommend you watch "Sunset over the ocean" a video in high definition filmed in Newport Rhode Island. The great thing about Jay is that he offers to make a video to suit your needs. This is his Winter Waterfall Relaxation Meditation video.

Click on the title of this blog to go to Scenic Video's Utube channel. Recommended!

Now the festivities are over and many will be feeling the consequences of overdoing it and paying for it later, it's time to remember what helps.

With CRPS/RSD I have learned to take one day at a time. Many things have helped in in my journey to wellness, the most significant of these being Mirror Visual Feedback.

Having breaks between major flare ups is a blessing and an indication that I'm on the right path. Here are some of the things I've found to help with pain and symptoms.

  • when doing mirror therapy pay attention to the location of most pain.(July 07)
  • if pain returns after mirror therapy has relieved the pain, look for underlying problem (October 07)
  • essential oils (still experimenting but amazed so far)
  • breathing out twice as long as in (August) I now do it for a few minutes 5 times a day instaed of once for 15 minutes.
  • 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 - Bollywood dancing (of sorts) August 07
  • 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)
  • Taking the "glass half full" approach (October)
  • Yamamoto neuro-acupuncture (Nov 07)
  • laser acupuncture mirrors
  • alternate nostril breathing (October 08)
  • Understanding that while it hurts it's not necessarily 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.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

In December 2006, to our amazement Doc, our stumpy tailed cattle dog, added his decoration to our tree.

Thanks to "Cat" for sending me this. It reminds me of when Doc decorated our tree with his broken tennis ball.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Doc wasn't sure about the train under the tree. He watched and he watched until it got the better of him and he flattened it with a paw.
I hope you all have a lovely holiday season and that 2009 is a better year for everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Eating smart - a matter of choices.

Better health Victorian Government article says "phytochemicals found in plants and zoochemicals found in animal products are believed to have greater antioxidant effects than either vitamins or minerals.

Wheat is the most important cereal crop in the world and in its natural unrefined state, features a host of important nutrients. Dr R H Liu of Cornell University, New York, reported that, "whole wheat contains many powerful phytonutrients". Bound phytochemicals were the major contributors to the total antioxidant value.

Phenols, unique phytonutrients found in prunes, are damage preventing substances effective in neutralizing a particularly dangerous oxygen radical. An excellent source of beta carotene, prunes help prevent oxygen based damage to fats. As well as these benefits, potassium in prunes lowers blood pressure and fiber helps to normalize blood sugar.

Sunsweet Dry Fruits note that a recent study from Tufts University in Boston "ranked the antioxidant value of commonly eaten fruits and vegetables using an analysis called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity). Prunes topped the list with more than twice the antioxidant capacity as other high-scoring fruits such as blueberries and rasins." has heaps of information and recipes. The link is to the left of this blog under "articles of interest".

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.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vitamin C reduces the prevalence of complex regional pain syndrome after wrist fracture and more.

This is of particular interest to me as, had this information been known at the time of my wrist fracture in 1998, this simple, inexpensive treatment could have prevented my ten years of pain.
  • The Lancet in December 1999 reported that doctors at Leyenburg Hospital, The Hague, The Netherlands in a prospective, double-blind study showed that vitamin C was associated with a lower risk of RSD after wrist fractures. They hypothesized that this beneficial effect of prophylaxis would be useful in other forms of trauma.

  • Pub Med reported that Researchers at Centre Hospitalier, Rue Marcellin Berthelot, 02 000 Laon, France found that the incidence of reflex sympathetic dystrophy was five time times lower in a group give vitamin C orally for 45 days from the start of the fracture. They considered that this supported previous observations and lent credibility to the value of vitamin C administration as a prophylactic measure to prevent the occurrence of reflex sympathetic dystrophy in patients who undergo surgical treatment of a displaced fracture of the distal radius.

  • In July 2007 the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery reported that Drs Zollinger, Tuinebreijer, Breederveld and Kreis, Department of Surgery, Red Cross Hospital, Beverwijk, The Netherlands had conducted a randomized, controlled, multicenter dose-response study into whether vitamin C can prevent the development of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in patients with wrist fractures. The study concluded that Vitamin C reduces the prevalence of complex regional pain syndrome after wrist fractures. A daily dose of 500 mg for fifty days was recommended recommended. This was later changed to 1000mg.
To read more go to the link to the left of this blog under "crps/rsd related articles" or click on the "vitamin C" tag to the left of this blog.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What do anti-oxidants have to do with CRPS/RSD?

First suggested by Sudeck in 1942, Dutch researchers' studies supported the theory that oxygen derived free radicals are possibly the mediators of mechanisms leading to some of the neurological symptoms of CRPS. They found
  • high oxygen supply with tissue hypoxia in CRPS extremities;
  • a diminished oxygen availability to the skeletal muscle tissue affected by chronic CRPS;
  • and several deficiencies in the skeletal muscles of CRPS sufferers.
Studies in Holland have centered around free radical scavengers as treatment for CRPS. There are many ongoing studies with DMSO, NAC in Holland.

Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle micronutrient (vitamin) antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Additionally, selenium, a trace metal that is required for proper function of one of the body's antioxidant enzyme systems, is sometimes included in this category. The body cannot manufacture these micronutrients so they must be supplied in the diet.

Vitamin E : nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, whole grains (esp. wheat germ), fortified cereals, and apricots.

Vitamin C : Ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin present in citrus fruits and juices, green peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe, kiwi, and strawberries.

Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A (retinol) and is present in liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, spinach, carrots, squash, broccoli, yams, tomato, cantaloupe, peaches, and grains. (NOTE: Vitamin A has no antioxidant properties and can be quite toxic when taken in excess.)

Research now shows that we can substantially affect the level of anti-oxidants in our bodies by eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

Google "antioxidants for crps" to learn more.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We all benefit by doing something for others.

Australian singer/songwriter writer Kate Miller-Heidke performed at an historical concert at Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. Organised by MTV EXIT, it was the first ever rock concert to take place at the ancient temple, and was held to spread awareness of the plight of victims of human trafficking.

Kate's website quotes her as saying, "The setting was magical and timeless as soon as the music started, all these Khmers came out of the forest and were dancing under the stars."

What I have noticed is that people in pain are compassionate. At this time of year it's good to remember those less fortunate.

Monday, December 15, 2008

These tiny flowers and orchids along the track.

"And orchids deck the tree tops"
Dorothea Mackeller - My Country

Minion Falls

This is Minion Falls yesterday, a short drive from Byron Bay.
Perfect for a picnic.
Taking time out for happiness.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

There's nothing like a little good fortune to lift our spirits.

As there is a global recession we could all do with a little good fortune. Today I'd like to tell you about two competitions.
  • How to Cope with Pain is giving us the chance to win prizes by singing up for email posts. I singed up a long time ago as I like to keep informed and the posts are so helpful.
  • Tony Tobin posted recently on his website about a fantastic competition to raise funds in support of a pediatric cardiac unit at Great Ormon Hospital. For the price of a 4GB MP4 player for £60 complete with full warranty,
    you receive free entry into the prize draw. Entrants have a one in 200,000
    chance of winning - and never having to work again.
    Those are very good odds and for a brilliant cause plus you actually get something for your money. The Brits have style. Remember it was a UK pharmaceutical firm, Pann Pharmaceuticals, that donated mirror boxes to pain clinics through Britian. Here's the link to Tony's post.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Care to swap your painful body for a fit pain free one?

A new friend of mine from my web-site Stephen Monaco who lives in S. Cal. found an article on a recent experiment and sent it to me. Thanks heaps Stephen. Stephen gets my new posts in his email. If he clicks "reply" he is able to email me personally. If interested just click on
Subscribe to crps/rsd a better life by Email at the top of this blog.

Yahoo news reported on a brilliant piece of Swedish research "exploring how people can be tricked into the false perception of owning another body."Technology involving wearing goggles has enabled people to experience the illusion of changing bodies.

When Stephen saw this it occurred to him that it might have something to do with the brain retrain stuff I've been posting about. Well Stephen I believe you are very perceptive. I've posted before about the Interfaces Goup in the UK who have stopped phantom limb pain using virtual realaty. You might remember my post (and How to Cope with Pain's) about the virtual snow dome which eases the pain of having burns redressed. Now this idea of swapping bodies has real potential for easing pain by retraining the brain. I had been thinkiong of using virtual reality to project your body in front of you. Using goggles and our own movements the virtual body could be seen to move befor eyour eyes. The illusion would be that the body moves freely without pain. Now if you put the body swap idea together with your own body projection idea there could be hope for pains that are hard to treat with mirror therapy such as back pain. There is also research to support benefits of visualizing movements. The is the ultimate visualization.

Click on the post title for the link to the article. I also encourage you to click on the slide show which shows pictures of just what they did in the experiment.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What's in a name? - Not all mirror therapy's the same.

If you google "mirror therapy" you come up with a range of therapies all calling themselves "mirror therapy". Some mirror therapy has been developed to combat body image problems and involves face on examination of yourself in a mirror and "telling yourself" that this or that body part is OK. This, I believe, is a form of training and psychologically based.

It is not the same as the mirror therapy which was invented by Vilayanur S Ramachandran (see link to left of page) to help alleviate "phantom limb" pain. Further studies in the UK and in Australia have proven this type of mirror therapy to help allieviate the pain and symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome. Just as the brain keeps responding with pain messages in the case of phantom limb so too does the brain send pain and pain response messages in the case of CRPS. These messages are not in response to something being wrong (eg dropping a hammer on your foot). The messages are brain driven or created in the brain in the same way as the brain creates the message to tell you heart to beat. You cannot consciously tell your heart to stop beating any more than you can tell yourself to stop the pain. It isn't just pain messages that the brain sends out in CRPS, it's protective messages because of pain eg inflammation, swelling, sweating, vascular messages, colour and temperature changes. These things are under the control of the autonomic nervous system - out of our conscious control.

It hurts and our learned behaviour is to protect the hurting part by stopping things touching it and moving less or resting. This is the best thing to do if the pain was from an injury but it's not. I know that I need to override the normal pain response and move normally and not protect the hurt part. It isn't easy. That's where the mirrors come in. The brain message is wrong. I cannot take pain medicine but even if I could I'd only be treating the symptoms of pain not the cause. The cause is these false messages. By looking at the mirror image of the body part opposite to the one that hurts moving, the brain gets visual stimulus of a moving pain free limb. The brain is being retrained. For me there is usually no instant difference. About 10 minutes after I've finished I notice that I don't feel quite as bad. I do it again and again. It takes effort and I need to keep doing it for several days or weeks. I treat each flare up immediately before it spreads (as it very quickly does for me). Doing this gives the best result. When the pain stops, it is gone for good. If the pain is in the same place again, I know something has triggered it and follow the same process again.
Mirror therapy isn't the whole answer.

  • I do physical therapy every day in small amounts throughout the day. Physical therapy is essential to regain lost function. I try not to over do it (very hard).
  • I do mirror therapy for one sided flare ups. I do it for a short time and several times a day until pain resolves.
  • I breath out twice as long as in for 15 minutes every day to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. I've changed this to alternate nostril breathing with out breath longer than in. I do this for 5 minutes about 5 times a day.
  • I have laser acupuncture and use self hypnosis. I sometimes have Yamamoto New Scalp Acupuncture which stops migraine, settles tendinitis and normalizes the autonomic nervous system.
  • I eat foods high in antioxidants (prunes are highest) to deal with the free radicals caused by stress of coping with CRPS. I "tweaked" my diet so that I have more antioxidants especially Vitamin C. Vitamin C demolishes the free radicals involved in inflammation.After a knee injury I took 1000mg of vitamin C as well as an increase in vitamin rich foods.
  • I refer to my list of things that work for me when I have flare ups.

My plan is to persist until the symptoms of CRPS resolve. CRPS symptoms, specially dysautonomia had resolved earlier this year. However I had an accident in which I injured my knee. Immediately dysautonomia returned as did other problems. However as I took vitamin C immediately and continue to do so, I have no CRPS in the injured knee.

If interested look through my blog under archives to see explanations of what I do and photos. Click on tags under posts to bring up other posts on that topic.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Last night I took this photo. Two bright planets in our solar system, Venus and Jupiter, have aligned with the moon creating a rarely seen face formation. Moon represents emotions, Venus love and belonging and Jupiter the need to expand. I hope your universe is filled with love and belonging, your emotions are happy and your horizons expanding.
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