Is it possible to manage CRPS without drugs?
I tell you from personal experience, it takes time and study and a lot of experimenting, but many have done it and I did for years.
I found that nutrition, activity/rest, and mental hygiene were the Magic Triumvirate.
Nutrition has a huge effect on what happens in our cells.
Activity re-regulates the whole CNS, while our bodies require rest and pacing to let the activity happen.
Mental hygeine encompasses meditation (sitting, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, relaxation exercises), cognitive behavioral tools (such as noticing tense postures and re-grounding and releasing them, playing chamber music or soft rock or soft jazz to calm the brain down, using lenses and mirrors to remap the brain’s crazy ideas about our bodies, biofeedback), and the art of distraction (absorbing books/shows, phone calls with friends, coloring abstract designs, doing something you enjoy, doing something productive for the neurotransmitter-boosting pat on the back you give yourself for doing it)…. all very important and useful stuff.
Learning to plug all this into daily life is a monumental task and it takes time to learn what YOU need to do, but the time will pass anyway and crps is still a full-time gig anyway, so you might as well be healthier and bether informed.
If you don’t mind one strenuous suggestion: before you take out anything, be sure you’ve plugged in something else that already helps. So, for instance, I got healthy fats (for neuroprotection) on board before I cut additives and phosphoric acid out of my diet. Those substances are neurologically addictive (“have a cola and a smile!”) and I knew from seeing people deprived of preservatives and sodas suddenly, that there’d be an unhappy withdrawal period. Once I had the coconut oil for cooking veggies, the grass-fed butter, and the olive oil & avocados going, I hardly noticed the change and didn’t even want colas or packaged food after a few weeks.
Again from experience, I suggest a combination of liver cleansing food (parsley, milk thistle, avocado hearts, dandelion, cilantro) and phosphorus-rich food (lecithin especially, mixed nuts) to calm the shift off of medications.
The liver uses phosphorus to process meds, in a process called (not surprisingly) phosphorylation. Providing plenty of raw material for phosphorylation really smoothes out medication issues for me. Lecithin has a mild, slightly buttery taste, the granules are easy to clean up after, and it makes fats (neuroprotection, remember) a lot easier on my sulky digestion.
Also tons of water, seltzer, whatever fluids you can get in. Most modern human central nervous systems are chronically dehydrated, which makes crap build up and that increases inflammatory response and pain. The bathroom breaks are time well spent: I need to get up and move a little anyway.
I blog some of my stuff here at livinganyway.com. I also recommend www.tamingthebeast.ca since she manages mast cell disease (massive drug allergies) on top of crps.
I use lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) extract for flares, and it is great for nerve inflammation. It’s been used for shingles and cold sores for millenia.
Clove oil — well diluted! — is outstanding for nerve pain.
Emu oil is good for almost every kind of pain, and absorbs amazingly. I use it by the drop, it’s so effective, and I add a bit of clove oil for good measure.
I’d add st johns wort oil as well, if I had any, because it does something remarkable to neurotransmission that smoothes out the pain.
I take neurotransmitter precursors twice daily, and they’ve been found to suppress pain signals at the spinal nerve root: 5-HTP and D,L Phenylalanine.
I also take st johns wort. I used to use it instead of neurotransmitter meds like SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclics, etc, but now I take it alongside and I find I get better results with fewer side effects.
Epsom salt baths help with flares, pain, dysautonomia, all kinds of yuckiness. I have to be up to a bath, but when I am, it’s wonderful.
I stick to whole foods with almost no grains, healthy fats and oils, quality meat and eggs daily but not hugely, starch from root veg and stalks. I have to hit the roadside stands, membership stores, and offbrand markets, because this stuff costs rather a lot in the supermarket, but this is a great area for organic and whole food.
I did without meds for years and I’m glad I did. For someone who’s had this disease, with several complications, for 15 years, I’m in phenomenally good shape. Now I take a wee bit of an SSRI and an SNRI, and antihistamines to manage my own mast cell histrionics, and with everything together, my pain is roughly 90% managed, sensory sensitivity is down to a functional level, stamina allows me to be up for most of the day, and my dysautonomia probably 50% managed. Sadly, still not enough for a job or much of a social life, but, fortunately, I did finally get disability income and many of my friends are able to come to me 🙂
Life is good.