Pain Getting in the Way? Try Yoga for CPRS!
If you are someone who’s been diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), this blog post is for you. A CRPS diagnosis can be heartbreaking. Chronic pain is exhausting. Why not try yoga for CRPS?
Confusing… CRPS Uncertainty
I can vividly remember the day I first heard the letters C-R-P-S. In fact, the orthopedic surgeon who verbalized them kept misplacing the letters. “R-D-S… no, C-R-P-S… no, R-S-P…”
If the doctor wasn’t sure… where did that leave me!?
As pain management wasn’t his specialty, my surgeon recommended me to an interventional pain specialist doctor. Hearing that long title, I began to feel anxious. What was I in for? What was CRPS?
My surgeon referred me to another provider and suggested that I google “CRPS” so that I could read up and learn more. So, I did as any “good” patient would do. When I got home from the appointment with the surgeon, I called the interventional pain specialist doctor immediately, to set up an intake.
And then… then, I made a terrible mistake.
Doing My Homework… A Terrible Idea!
After I scheduled the first appointment with the pain specialist, I sat on my deck, cell phone in hand. I looked at my dog and said, “Well, the surgeon told me to google CRPS so that I could read up on the diagnosis. I guess now’s as good a time as any…” I wanted to be prepared for when I met the pain doctor.
I typed the letters into the search bar… C-R-P-S…
My eyes grew wide with the first bits of information that loaded onto the screen. “Chronic pain? There’s no treatment? It never goes away? I’ll live with this forever!” I almost chucked the phone off the deck.
Since I was in terrible physical pain, already feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted from my elbow surgery and complicated recovery, I lost it. I thought that I was going to die. I wanted to die. I sobbed and sobbed… no longer able to make out the words on the page.
What an awful idea!
I should have just waited for my intake appointment…
Taking Matters into My Own Hands: Yoga for CRPS
After the initial shock wore off and the tears dried, I was able to exhale and assess the situation. I did go to that intake visit, with the pain doctor, who confirmed my surgeon’s suspicions.
The interventional pain specialist asked me a series of questions, took the temperature of both of my arms (my elbow was the location of the CRPS), felt my arm, looked at my arm, and finally started to educate me about the CRPS diagnosis and treatment options.
I was started on a medication, called Neurontin, and was scheduled for weekly nerve blocks. I was to continue with occupational therapy (OT) three times a week. But the pain didn’t go away. And my range of motion remained limited.
As a board-certified holistic nurse, I decided to look into my bag of self-care tricks. Couldn’t I find something that I could do, from my home, to help me with this life-changing condition?
Of course! Yoga for CRPS… what an idea. In fact, I was a little surprised with myself when I didn’t think of it sooner. My OT team had already assigned me four full-body exercises, for people with CRPS, to do at home. I’d keep doing those but also add in yoga. I was excited now!!
How Yoga has Helped The CRPS
I’ve been practicing yoga for CRPS for months now. I can honestly say that the yoga, among other holistic practices, has been THE remedy that has helped me the most.
In fact, here’s a list of ways yoga for CRPS has benefited me:
- In the shower, I’m now able to hold the soap in my left hand, washing the right side of my body
- I’m FINALLY able to use my left hand to put the deodorant under my right arm
- I’m sort of able to braid my hair… I can do one braid, on the right side of my body, but I’m actually able to get my left hand over to reach and help out
- I’m able to pick up a glass with my left hand and get it to reach my mouth
- I can push my glasses up when they slide down, using my left hand
- I’m almost able to reach behind my head to put my hair into a ponytail
- I’m able to cut food, even thicker things like sweet potatoes
- I’m able to reach up to the shelf, putting plates and bowls away after dinner
- I’m actually able to push down just a bit, into a chair, so that I can readjust my positioning
- I’m able to pull the covers up in bed, using both hands again
- I’m able to ride in a vehicle, without propping up my arm on a pillow to brace myself from pain
- I’m able to open the peanut butter jar, using two hands
- I’m able to put on my jacket without a terrible amount of pain in my elbow
- I’m able to pull pants up, using two hands without a nasty grimace on my face
I could go on and on…
Practicing yoga for CRPS has changed my life.
I notice an increased range of motion, as I’m able to do more activities of daily living. I’ve definitely increased my strength, as I’m able to push, pull, and carry more in my affected arm. I have less pain and more energy throughout the day. Yoga for CRPS has even helped me sleep better at night!
Don’t believe me?
Try it for yourself! If you’ve been struggling with chronic pain and limited mobility, yoga for CRPS may be something that could help you.
About the Author: Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC, RYT (200) 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 a certified coach, nature lover, and avid meditator.
Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull. She enjoys gardening, jigsaw puzzles, farming, music, and hiking.