The world of alternative treatments and medicine is rich with potential and promise where the healing of pain is concerned. That said, it demands smart navigation, intuition and discretion when choosing an approach and practitioner. Given the deeply personal nature of the pain experience, research is critical.
Since CRPS/RSD is a neurological disorder, any treatment that does not include brain rehabilitation or a retraining of the nervous system will have limited results, if any. Still, wherever and however one can find relief, it is well worth the time and effort and can go a long way toward improving quality of life.
Following is a list of organizations, articles and information on treatments said to be effective for some people. This section will grow with time. If you have tried something (non-pharmaceutical) that helped you drop me a line and I can list it here.
[Note: please see other sections for more options of specified genres. You can also visit my blog here on this site, two posts on non-drug treatment options. Here is one: http://www.painmaps.com/natural-remedies-for-nerve-pain-part-two/]
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: The Drugless, Non-Surgical RSD Treatment
In an HBOT treatment, a person is placed in a relaxing chamber where atmospheric pressure is increased and oxygen is delivered, dissolving directly into the plasma, brain and cerebrospinal fluids creating a multilevel effect on the central nervous system: reducing swelling of inflamed tissues, among other benefits. It is pricey but highly effective for a range of brain and nervous system related conditions including concussions, cerebral palsy, candida, autism and CRPS / RSD.
There is one caveat. Ample discernment is essential in choosing where to go. When I first tried this, I made the mistake of relying solely on its good name and reputation without due diligence in research, and went to someone who was not trained properly. This embarrassing experience is one I posted a blog on here at Pain Maps: http://www.painmaps.com/the-stranglehold-of-desperation-hbot/
If you are located in Ontario, Canada, I highly recommend the Ontario Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Centre, listed below. Their site features great information as well.
Here is one blog I found with information on HBOT as it relates to RSD:
Ontario Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Centre**
Featured on CBC’s The National (among others)
Harch HBOT Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury & Neurological Disorders
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Providers & Treatment Centers in the U.S.
Treating Autism, Cerebral Palsy & Other Neurological Disorders
The Hyperbaric Medicine Center
Good information & list of resources
“Light therapies use infrared light to penetrate trigger points, painful areas, or the spinal cord, encouraging circulation and nerve function to engender healing. According to Dr. Connie Haber, a CRPS laser therapist and original researcher of the FDA-approved microlight, ‘Light travels along the neural axis and improves communication between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Once they start speaking to one another again, the patient finds relief.'”
Elena Juris, Positive Options for CRPS
In his book The Brain’s Way of Healing, Norman Doidge dedicates an entire chapter to the benefits of sunlight and laser therapy, describing in detail its wide application and how it works. He tells us it is based on scientific literature of more than 3,000 publications and more than 200 clinical trials with positive results. He explains that lasers work to stimulate healing on a cellular level and improve nerve cell metabolism, enhancing the growth of the myelin sheath – something I remember doctors telling me was irreparable. He also explains that lasers of different wave lengths increase the use of oxygen, improve blood circulation and bring nutrients to tissues; “where inflammatory processes become stuck and chronic, laser light can unblock the stalled process and reduce inflammation and pain.”
The vagus nerve – CRPS connection has yet to be explored from what I can discern, but if you are based in the Toronto area and you have persistent pain or CRPS / RSD, there is a fabulous laser clinic you can try, founded by a pioneer in the field Dr. Fred Kahn (also featured in Doidge’s chapter):
Bioflex Laser Therapy: restoring normal cell structure & enhancing immune response
Conditions treated include soft tissue injury, inflammatory conditions, back problems, RSD / CRPS & a wide range of neurological conditions, gout, fibromyalgia & more
Two locations: one downtown Toronto, the other in Etobicoke
If you live elsewhere, you can try looking up:
Low-Level Laser Therapy Association Links (International)
IV Therapy & B12 Injections
Commonly known as the Meyer’s Cocktail, Vitamin IV therapy is well known for its immune boosting, cancer fighting properties. When combined with B12 injections it is especially powerful for any kind of nerve pain, particularly if that nerve pain has been linked to an infection like Lyme Disease – this, I speak from experience. Suited for those with digestive issues (especially intestinal problems linked with inflammation or food sensitivities).
For more information here are two sites I found on IV:
For info on B12, try: http://www.livestrong.com/article/494327-b12-sciatic-nerve-pain/
**The Recommended Reading page on this web site also offers an entire book on B12**
If you are based in the Toronto area you are in luck – a naturopath here specializing in pain, neurological dysfunction and is certified for both IV Therapy & B12 injections, and I highly recommend him:
Dr. Shawn, ND
Treating pain, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Neurological Disease
Natural Remedy Options for Home Use
What works for some people doesn’t work for others – it all comes down to research, trial and error, but worth the effort as many of these options are affordable. Following are some useful articles on remedies, some of which have worked for me, some of the time. For more information on home-use remedies please see my blog on this site.
This Herb is Strong Enough for Cancer Pain
Institute for Natural Healing on Chinese Herb Corydalis for Nerve Pain
Poppy Pill Could Help Beat Pain of Arthritis: on Corydalis
Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin, Anti-inflammatory Agent
U.S. National Library of Medicine
Curcumin Reduces Degenerative Disc Disease Pain
Natural Medicine Journal
Osteopathy for Nerve Pain, Sciatica
Calming & Balancing the Nervous System
Audio & visual material that helps relieve pain through retraining the nervous system
Pain Relief CD
Fundamental skills of guided imagery that stimulate healing from within
Overcome Pain with Gentle Yoga (DVD)
Shelly Prosko & Neil Pearson
For four-minute sneak preview see:
Neurofeedback & Biofeedback
The way I understand it, neurofeedback is a more specialized form of biofeedback that focuses on the brain. I don’t have direct experience in the use of either for pain, but anything to helps to train (or improve the function of) the brain will most definitely assist with pain reduction, even if indirectly. More to come in this section.
The ADD Centre & Biofeedback Institute of Toronto
Improving focus & concentration, mood regulation (anxiety), brain injuries, seizures, autism, learning problems, more
The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
An international society for mind-body research, healthcare & education
“Biofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health.”
Treating a wide range of disorders including anxiety, depression, autism, chronic pain & traumatic brain injury
International Society for Neurofeedback & Research
Non-profit member organization for professionals pursuing research of self regulation of brain activity
Educational research & member (practitioner) directory
What is Neurofeedback?
Journal of Neurotherapy, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation