Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Natural Remedies
If you’ve been diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and are looking for natural remedies, this article is for you.
Conventional Care of CRPS
Before getting into the natural therapies, we’ve got to state that it’s important for you to continue whatever conventional treatment you’ve been receiving. If you’ve been prescribed medications or are under the care of a provider, keep with your treatment regimen.
It is necessary that you follow the treatment plan that your provider has prescribed. Natural remedies are used in addition to whatever conventional care (also known as western medicine) you’re receiving. Natural (also known as holistic) care complements western medicine.
CRPS Treatments… Getting Tired of the Pain
With the above disclaimers in mind, if you’ve been struggling with CRPS for some time now, you’ve likely become frustrated by or overwhelmed with all the care you’re receiving.
Prescription medications can have nasty side effects. Often, medicine can make us feel drowsy or foggy.
You may enjoy applying heat to the area that’s afflicted with the CRPS. However, we all know that we can’t remain under a heating pad forever. The heat wears off; the effect wears off, and eventually, we have to get up and move with life.
You may have tried a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit. Yet again, like the heat, you use the TENS unit when you’re able to sit with it. And, of course, you have to get up and leave the TENS unit when you’re going about your day-to-day living.
Your doctor may have even spoken with you about spinal cord stimulation or an intrathecal drug pump. My doctor did… and as he was talking about the insertion, I started getting queasy. Nope, not for me!
When you’re sick of these somewhat effective conventional care treatments and ready to try something else… holistic healing may enter the picture.
Applying Natural Treatments for CRPS
Now, as we’ve said above… these treatments aren’t used instead of the care you’re receiving. And these natural or holistic types of remedies may or may not take intense pains away. All I know is that adding holistic options to my conventional care of CRPS helped me. Hopefully, some of these natural treatments may help you.
Breath Work and Mantras
Even though it might sound counterintuitive and painful, sometimes breathing into the affected area can help.
You may consider focusing on the area of the body in which the CRPS is. As you focus on this area of your body, you bring your breath there, too.
Breathe into and out of the CRPS. Literally, inhale and exhale. As you inhale, you may focus on a positive intention, word, or feeling. And, as you exhale, your focus would be on letting go of tension, pain, or stress.
Inhale healing. Exhale tension. Inhale healing. Exhale pain. Inhale healing. Exhale stress. Repeatedly, breathing and reciting a mantra in your mind.
Writing can be very cathartic. It’s helpful to get the thoughts and emotions out of the mind and on paper (or digitally).
Even if you’re not that into journaling in the sense of writing a daily diary… you might consider keeping a pain log of CRPS symptoms. This way, you can bring the information with you on appointments to your care providers. And you can observe your own CRPS symptoms and pain management.
Keeping the pain log might help you better understand what makes the CRPS pain worse. The pain log can also help you notice what remedies relieve your CRPS symptoms.
You might even consider taking the journaling technique and giving it a fun spin. Rather than writing in words, you might try journaling in pictures and artwork.
Creating a collage might be a creative way to ease the CRPS pains. You might find that expressing yourself artistically allows you to feel better, lifting your mood.
When I was diagnosed with CRPS, my occupational therapist (OT) gave me four full-body exercises to do. In fact, she found the exercises from another OT who treated people with CRPS.
So, my OT sent me the exercises in a video. I could watch what the person was doing and learn the exercises for myself. I did those four full-body exercises for a few weeks, until I learned even more exercises that helped me.
Stretching and gently moving the body in an easeful way relieved my CRPS symptoms. You may consider some gentle stretching movements, such as yoga or qigong, to help with CRPS pain management.
Another thing I used for the really painful nights was aromatherapy. As we said above, these holistic remedies are used in conjunction with conventional treatments.
So, I would take my evening pain medication, prop my elbow up on a pillow, and sit with an ice pack for 20 minutes. While I was sitting in this relaxed position, I would light up my tea light aromatherapy diffuser.
It was wonderful. Pain medicine and ice coupled with the relaxing scent of lavender. I was in heaven. For those 20 minutes, it was as if my CRPS was gone. Maybe some aromatherapies would help you?
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About the Author: Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC is a board-certified holistic nurse, registered yoga instructor, and reiki master.
Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.