HCT For The Relief and Control Of Chronic Pain

Author: Traci Patterson, CH, CI – Founder and Director, Advanced Pathways

 

You are not your pain. You can make that statement a reality by utilizing the powerful protocol of Hypnosis Combined Therapy (HCT).  HCT can harness your ability to retrain neural pathways and develop new patterns in the brain and body, to help you reclaim control.

HCT is a combination of clinical hypnosis/hypnotherapy, biofeedback, light/sound therapy, neuroplasticity training, working with the limbic system, cell memory, and more. This protocol has given patients, on an international basis, the ability to dramatically decrease pain levels (many do gain remission), increase restorative sleep, decrease and control stress, anxiety and/or PTSD, and regain their lives.

Clinical trial evidence over the past 10 years, confirms that hypnotherapy treatments are effective for reducing daily pain intensity levels in people with chronic pain.

My own experience of living with chronic pain (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) means that I have a real understanding of the impact it has on all areas of life. Chronic pain doesn’t just impact one area. It hits patients in ways that were never expected. The isolation, stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of helplessness can be overwhelming. The good news is this can change. You can have the ability to change the way you experience your body and your life – to take control again.

When pain persists, your role in managing it becomes really important. What you think, feel and do on a day-to-day basis, has an effect on your pain. In order to change your pain state it is necessary to change your thoughts and emotional responses.

HCT is a powerful tool that helps you take back control over your pain and your life by enabling you to change your thoughts and emotional responses to both your pain and to external factors. This will assist you to retrain neural pathways and calm down the over sensitized state of your central nervous system, helping you lay down new templates of response in the areas of the brain responsible for determining the pain experience.

With HCT you will be able to promote and experience the healthy effects of positive energy in your life, empowering you to get back in the driver’s seat of your life once again.

What exactly is chronic pain?
Pain is considered chronic when it occurs for most days of the week and persists for longer than three months. It includes persistent pain that no longer has an identifiable cause where the original injury has healed, as well as pain that has an identifiable cause such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, TMJ dysfunction, cancer, diabetic neuropathy, shingles, multiple sclerosis etc. It also includes persistent pain that has no identifiable cause at all.

It is now estimated that over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Push the numbers out on an international basis and chronic pain is becoming an epidemic. The cause and treatment of persistent pain is complex, added to which is the enormous impact chronic pain has on a person’s ability to function effectively in the wider areas of family, social and work life.

Chronic pain and illness is debilitating, isolating and extremely stressful. There is no single approach or ‘magic bullet’ solution to treating chronic pain. Rather, it’s a matter of being in charge of your health management and decisions, choosing the right combination of treatment strategies and health care professionals to help you improve your health outcomes and the quality of your life.

How do we know that hypnosis can actually make a difference for pain?
There is physical evidence that hypnosis works to alleviate chronic pain, and medical imaging studies have shown that hypnotic therapy influences all of the cortical and neuro-physiological processes that underline pain. Current scientific research shows that hypnotherapy treatment causes both pain perception thresholds, and pain tolerance levels, to be strikingly increased.

Why use Hypnosis Combined Therapy (HCT) to treat chronic pain?
HCT is safe, drug free, non-invasive, evidence based and also works to support other medical and alternative therapeutic approaches you may be using in your multidisciplinary approach to healing. My own experience of utilizing a range of health options including hypnosis to gain long-term remission in my own journey with chronic pain (CRPS) is a valuable resource that I bring to patients. I can help you navigate those choices to find what’s right for you, so that you gain real improvements in wellbeing and quality of life.

Science has discovered that thoughts, emotions and physical movement create chemical reactions in our body, which either calm down our central nervous system or turn the alarm volume up. By changing your response to pain and the way you think about pain, you can in fact change your pain state. Plus, when we tap into previous memories of being healthy and happy it allows us to rebuild the neuro-net that our brain relies on and our cell memory.

How we focus our attention can have a significant impact on our experience of pain. Research has shown that being able to focus attention on a task, activity, or experience – or to distract yourself – reduces pain and distress for people in chronic pain. The more we can divert our attention from pain, the less signal we create in our pain pathways. The less signal in our pain pathways, the less pain receptors and sprouts our nerves create, and the less sensitive our nerves become. When engaged in or focus on enjoyable experiences, we increase our production of good chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as endorphins. And, as you know, these ‘good’ chemicals help to calm pain pathways even more. Because hypnotherapy is a state of focused concentration it can create and absorb you in a desirable and comfortable state, and your brain can start to pay attention to that instead of pain.

We also want to focus on the Vagus nerve and the importance it has in chronic pain. The Vagus nerve is one of the largest nerve systems in the body. The name Vagus is Latin for “wandering,” which describes the long and complicated path this nerve takes through the body and all of the different systems it comes in contact with. In some cases this nerve is linked to medical conditions such as low blood pressure, and in other cases doctors will stimulate this nerve to help treat disorders. Stimulating the Vagus nerve with something as easy as an abdominal breath can release endorphins, serotonin, and melatonin.

Biofeedback allows us to objectively monitor your heart rhythms and display the physiological level of coherence – an optimal state in which the heart, mind and emotions are operating in sync and balance, and the immune, hormonal and nervous systems function in a state of harmonious coordination.

Pain and the brain…
Pain is an output our brain makes to defend us. It is what alerts us to danger and it acts as a protective mechanism to make us stop and do what we need to, to take care of ourselves. Our brain decides if something is painful or not. This is hard to comprehend because we feel pain in parts of our body, therefore we believe the pain comes from those parts, but in fact pain is determined by the brain.

However, when pain is ongoing the body’s danger response to sensory input becomes over sensitized and the alarm system stays on red alert causing a process called ‘Central Nervous System Sensitization’; then fears, thoughts and beliefs become involved and start contributing to the chronic pain state. Chronic pain sufferers end up feeling as though pain has engulfed their life, feeling helpless and hopeless. The good news however, is that HCT can change that. It can help you break the chains that chronic pain holds you in, thereby letting in the possibility for change and new perspectives.

A Multimodality / discipline approach…
A multimodality approach is needed in order to address the different facets of physical and emotional health involved in the treatment of chronic pain. Once you decide to get involved in your own healing, as captain of your team, you will need to find the protocol and/or team that works best for you.

Clinical trial findings and MRI studies support the fact that hypnotherapy is a valuable tool that will support your ability to learn new ways of dramatically decreasing your chronic pain and dealing with the impact it has had on your life.

What the research tells us…
• The brain is plastic! The brain’s neuroplasticity means that it is not a fixed and final thing; it can change the way it works and the way your body responds to its messages. “Neruo is for ‘neuron’, the nerve cells in our brains and nervous systems. Plastic is for ‘changeable…modifiable’” (The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge MD, 2007).
• The neural pathways that take messages to and from the brain can be altered, and new paths can be created. The latest brain research shows that our brain has the ability to change its function and structure through thought and activity, but only when it is in a state of openness, creativity and freedom from stress. Because hypnotherapy helps you reduce the significant levels of stress that occur in your body as a result of experiencing ongoing pain, it creates the necessary open and creative space for your brain to begin changing its responses. (Neuro Orthopaedic Institute Australasia, August 2011)
• Thoughts are one of the most powerful influences on your mood and emotions. The way you think about yourself, your situation, and your future is extremely important in chronic pain, for a number of reasons. The more you can reduce your own distress with your thinking, the more you reduce your adrenaline levels, which in turn is good for desensitizing your nervous system. The more you can generate helpful thinking patterns that improve your mood, the more helpful neurotransmitters you are likely to produce, such as opiates. These are your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. When your body produces ‘feel good’ chemicals, they help to reduce the level of signal in your pain pathways. (CPA Australia http://www.chronicpainaustralia.org.au)
• Research has shown that being able to focus attention on a task, activity, or experience – or to distract yourself – reduces pain and distress for people in chronic pain. An important point about attention is that we all only have a limited amount of attention to allocate to various aspects of our experience. If much of our attention is taken up by a particular thing, then there is less attention to be allocated to anything else. (CPA Australia http://www.chronicpainaustralia.org.au)
• There is growing recognition that hypnosis is helpful for altering the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to the pain state.
• The findings suggest that self-hypnosis training for chronic pain has two primary effects (a) it creates a long lasting (possibly permanent) change in the way the person and brain processes pain information, so that they experience a decrease in ongoing daily average pain, and (b) provides skills that they can use on a regular basis to experience periods of comfort.
• New sciences such as New Biology, Quantum Physics, and Molecular Science, all recognize that human beings are a dynamic organic process. These scientific perspectives contend that it is not the individual parts, but the whole that provides for in-depth understanding. The human organism is not perceived as isolated or compartmentalized, but rather is studied as a living system. No longer an “it “ – an object – the human being is recognized as a dynamic ever-changing process, embedded in a field of relationships and information. (From Changing the Language of Body: from Object to Process article by Liz Koch). This relational field moves between your thoughts, emotions, and body and is intrinsically linked. Hypnotherapy works with the whole person in a powerful way that harnesses their mind, body spirit self to achieve healing and transformation.
• Researchers are not sure exactly how or why biofeedback works. However, there does seem to be at least one common thread: most people who benefit from biofeedback have conditions that are brought on or made worse by stress. For this reason, many scientists believe that relaxation is the key to successful biofeedback therapy. When your body is under chronic stress, internal processes like blood pressure become overactive. Guided by a biofeedback therapist, you can learn to lower your blood pressure through relaxation techniques and mental exercises. When you are successful, you see the results on the monitor, which encourages your efforts. (University of Maryland Medical Center)
• The limbic system can influence chronic pain. A conceptual framework is presented suggesting conscious and subconscious interpretation of emotional responses to events can impact all systems of the body generating or modifying chronic pain symptoms. The limbic system can directly modify the activity of the autonomic, immune, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems. Through these systems it is able to alter the activity in all other systems. It is important to note that multiple systems are being affected simultaneously. The end result is that pain may be felt in a specific region, which can be viewed in the context of current knowledge on pain physiology and the neuromatrix. (University of West London)

You can utilize HCT to break the chains from chronic pain. Doing so will help you to regain your life by dramatically decreasing your pain, increasing restorative sleep, decreasing and controlling stress, anxiety and/or PTSD, and empowering you to engage in a meaningful life again.

 

Traci’s Story

My name is Traci Patterson.  I’m the Founder and Director of Advanced Pathways Hypnosis, a Keynote and motivational speaker, writer, Delegate with the International Pain Foundation, an Ambassador with the U.S. Pain Foundation, patient advocate, and CRPS survivor.

Who was I prior to my diagnosis with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?

Prior to my diagnosis with CRPS, I was a healthy, active, mother, wife, healthcare executive (at the top of my professional career), volunteer (with Young Life, Rising Tide and Orangewood Children’s Foundation), mentor, had been on the board for Tustin Eastern Little League, enjoyed softball, kayaking, outdoor activities, baseball, gardening, landscaping, and staying very busy.  I was one of those individuals that was always busy either with our family, volunteering or just helping friends or family.  I just loved to be active and busy.  That all changed after December, 2006 when I stepped over a box in our garage and turned my ankle.  What started out as a simple sprained ankle, triggered dominoes to something that what we could have never imagined. 

How would you define Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), is a long term condition that often worsens with time. It is characterized by severe pain and sensitivity, swelling, and changes in the skin. It may initially affect one limb and then spread throughout the body; 35% of people report symptoms throughout their whole body.

The cause of CRPS is unknown though CRPS is associated with dysregulation of the central nervous system and autonomic nervous system resulting in multiple functional loss, impairment and disability. Precipitating factors include injury and surgery, although there are cases where no injury had occurred at the original site. CRPS is not caused by psychological factors, yet the constant pain and reduced quality of life has been known to cause psychological problems (such as increased depression and anxiety). Although “research does not reveal support for specific personality or psychopathology predictors of the condition,” CRPS is associated with psychosocial effects, including impaired social and occupational function.  It is classified as an amplified musculoskeletal pain syndrome.

Somebody who has chronic pain is living with a daily challenge to cope with pain that does not have a quick fix, sometimes it does not have a cure and the best you can hope for is to get into remission. As a patient you feel like you have to learn how to alter your dreams and bring focus and meaning back to your life.  Patients living in chronic pain also have to cope with others looking at them, not understanding what they are trying to deal with day in and day out, because most people only see a glimpse of what you are going through and to them you look normal.  You are not in a cast, you are not necessarily in the hospital, and you are home on medication dealing with a horrible pain condition that is wreaking havoc on your body.  This is why Chronic Pain, CRPS/RSD and many neurological pain syndromes are also known as ‘Invisible’ pain conditions.   

 How are people’s lives affected by this illness? What changes when they start dealing with this illness?

Your life is altered, your dreams for the future are never going to be exactly as you planned them to be, you have to change your expectations in life because now you are dealing with a condition with chronic pain, and now that you have pain you are not physically able to do things the way you used to.  So it alters your life.  Many will say it’s a matter of learning to live with it, around it and accept the changes that have come to your life.  The career that you had may now be gone.  The many activities that you were involved with, you now cannot continue due to high pain levels and it is very hard for others to understand this.  People that once stood by your side start to disappear as they just don’t understand why you are unable to do what you used to.  Your life as you once knew it changes, and this isn’t even talking about the impact it has on your family.

Why is this illness different from others illnesses?

You have to face this for the rest of your life, unless you are one of the individuals that can get into remission. Some people go to physical therapy for 6 to 8 weeks and then they get better. There is no cure for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Some people have an injury and they go through their process and the pain; medication, PT, injections, blocks and all of a sudden they graduate and then they’re able to get into remission and get back to their lives (this is not the norm). People like me that don’t respond to normal treatments go through aggressive treatment protocols that can include: heavy medications, injections, PT, regional blocks, lumbar sympathetic blocks, and maybe even Spinal Cord Stimulators.  Yes, I did all of that and had no improvement.  As a matter of fact everything they did to treat me made me worse!  I was told my case was one of the worse my Pain Management doctor had ever seen.  It was very aggressive and extremely volatile.  It started out in my left foot and ankle, moved into my back when they put in a Spinal Cord Stimulator (they stated this had never happened before to previous patients), then I had a build-up of scar tissue on my Dura of the spine that would have paralyzed me, so the final Spinal Cord Stimulator had to be removed.  At this point my Pain Management doctor was giving up!  My CRPS kept trying to ‘mirror’ to my right leg, but we were able to stop it each time.  How was I ever going to get better?  I refused to give up, my life had already been drastically altered, and I had been living life as a Chronic Pain patient on a cocktail of pain meds to just live…  I just knew in my heart that there had to be some answer out there, some hope, some way of getting my CRPS into remission and I refused to give up! 

At this point in my life I knew I had already been to hell and back, my CRPS was moving – getting worse (it was in my left foot/ankle, my entire back and had recently moved into my pelvic region), I knew God had other plans for me and I just had to figure out where that path was going to lead me.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Traci’s Case Report

My Name is Traci.  I was 36 years old when I originally sprained my ankle stepping over a box in December, 2006.  That started my journey.  Then a little over a year later I was formally diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in January, 2008. 

I was then referred to a DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) for assessment. After conservative treatment that included a CAM Boot, Physical Therapy and cortisone shots, the pain continued.

The DPM followed with three (3) surgeries of which several errors were made, including cutting the Tibial Nerves, Lateral Plantar Nerve, Rupturing the Posterior Tibial Tendon, and making the incision in the wrong place. 

I had two (2) surgeries by a top Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon to reconstruct my Posterior Tibial Tendon, and later he completed a Tarsal Tunnel Release hoping to help with the nerve pain.

During these surgeries, my pain continued to increase disproportionate to what should have been occurring.

In 2008, I was officially diagnosed with CRPS by my Pain Management doctor, and he put together an aggressive treatment plan to try to treat my condition.  Initially, he thought he could get my condition under control within 6 months to a year, and told me this could be one of the most devastating diagnoses of my life.

He started with putting me on a lengthy list of opioid pain medications that included: Methadone, Dilaudid, Ketamine (oral and topical), and more…

In addition to these medications he tried regional blocks with no results, and then we did 13 Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks (the last one shut down my adrenal glands, landing me in the hospital for several days).  Thus, my PM Doc stopped any further blocks and I was then told I had to get a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS).  In addition to the Sympathetic Blocks I also received a prescription from my pain management doctor to undergo HBOT.  I did 25-30 sessions of HBOT, which I had heard could help to relieve pain, but did not get relief.  The next step was a SCS trial which was a success. Yet once the real spinal cord stimulator (SCS) was implanted it functioned in-properly and caused swelling every time the battery was charged.  Thus, I had to have a 2nd surgery to change out the SCS Battery. It was at this time that I started to notice some CRPS Pain in my back.  I had continued trouble with the SCS, so the system was removed and replaced (Medtronic to Boston Scientific) – no precautions were taken to make sure the CRPS didn’t move into the back.

Following this surgery, I had full CRPS in my back (my waist to my shoulders).  I was told by the Neurosurgeon this was the first time he had this happen.  I had further issues with the Boston Scientific SCS, which included a build-up of scar tissue on the Dura of my Spine.  Upon further review, it was found in several articles that SCS in rare cases could cause scar tissue on the Dura that would lead to paralysis.  Therefore, my SCS was removed/explanted (2011).

It was at this time that my Pain Management doctor told me, “…after all of this I’m afraid to touch you. There is nothing else I can do at this time.  Therefore, you may have to do your best with pain meds.”

Three weeks following my post-op of the SCS removal, I flew to Frankfurt, Germany, for further treatment.  This was the first of my four trips over to Frankfurt, Germany, for treatment of my CRPS.

The first trip, we started with building up my immune system, Stem Cells (utilizing my own blood), Thymus Cell Extract, Blood Ozone Therapy, Neural Therapy with Ozone, Myers Cocktail IV’s, Lymphatic Massages, Physical Therapy and Detoxing.

On my second trip to Frankfurt, we noticed there was one area where they removed the SCS that was problematic.  Following an ultrasound, they discovered there was something foreign in the incision.  The Medical Director in Germany re-opened this area and found there was some gauze left in my incision from when the SCS was removed.  This was cleaned up, left open to heal, debrided on a daily basis until it closed on its own.

During this trip and my subsequent trips to Germany, I completed the following types of treatments (this is inclusive of the last three trips):

Neural Therapy with Ozone

Ionization

Ozone Therapy

Blood Ozone Therapy

Thymus Cell Therapy

Regional Hyperthermia (3x/day – 5days/week: first CRPS patient in world to be treated with Regional Hyperthermia)

Alpha Lipoic IV’s

Myers Cocktail IV’s

Homeopathic Injections

Regeneris Therapy (RNA Cell Therapy – 4 weeks treatment protocol)

PK Protocol

Physical Therapy and Massage

Bodywork

(Last trip to Germany was August-September, 2013).

 

I still feel that my trips to Germany were important in my over-all treatment process as they were able to shrink the area(s) of my CRPS and decrease my pain levels overall.  Following my last trip, my pain levels remained at a 5 for approximately six weeks and then started to increase again.

I contacted the Medical Director in Germany and it was suggested to do two more rounds of Regeneris or return to Frankfurt for continued treatment.

Between my trips to Germany, I was also treated in Mexico in tandem with the Medical Director from Frankfurt.

In Mexico, he treated me with the following over 3 different stays:

Insulin Potentiated Therapy (IPT – utilizing pain meds)

PK Protocol

Physical Therapy

Chiro

Alpha Lipoic IV’s

Myers Cocktail IV’s

Rife

Acuscope

Neural Therapy with Ozone

Ondamed Biofeedback

HBOT and detox

Regional Hyperthermia

 

These treatments only decreased my pain levels to a 6-7.  My last trip to Mexico was July, 2013.

Following my last trip from Germany I contacted highly regard clinic known for hypnosis for possible treatment.  I had previously done some hypnosis sessions, but was referred there due to their background and being known for Pain Management.  After speaking we set up a time to be seen mid-November, 2013.

I was told that it would be a week long intensive session that would include our time together and homework each evening (i.e. reading, listening to CD’s, etc…).  To me, this was an exciting avenue to go down and I was 100% dedicated to get the most out of everything that was set before.

Day one, I walked in with what I formerly called “Pain Levels”, and now have changed, calling them “Comfort Levels” up in the 8-9 range.  The evening prior they were at a 10+ due to the full day of travel to get from CA to my destination.  Little did I know, although I had hoped and prayed it would be, that my ‘Comfort Levels’ would drop to a ZERO by the end of the week! 

Over the week we used a combination of:

Hypnosis

Imagery / Meditation

Biofeedback

Light/Sound Therapy

“Issue Solution Training”

and learning Self-Hypnosis

 

While working together the first day, it was discovered that I was also dealing with a case of PTSD due to everything that I had dealt with over the years; the treatments; being given medications for anesthesia and not having them work – then listening to the physicians; having my Pain Management doctor tell me that there was nothing more he could do and I would just have to live with the pain;  going through some treatments that were extremely uncomfortable; and negative comments from physicians about the possible outcome of my situation.  This did not surprise me to say the least.

From the first day to the last day I saw progress.

Thursday of our week together, I was scheduled for a massage.  To be honest, I was a bit reluctant and worried walking to that appointment due to the fact that I had not been able to tolerate a massage on my back since 2011 when CRPS had moved into my back.  I knew that my ‘Comfort Level’ had already dropped to a ZERO in my back, but I wasn’t sure if I trusted it enough to do the massage.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how relaxed and comfortable I was during the massage.  I had no pain in my back and I was able to keep my ‘Comfort Level’ at a Zero.  To me this was a test, and it showed me what I had accomplished to that point was holding and would continue to get better.

The other huge thing that they were able to assist me with was a continual spasm or uncontrollable motor deficiency in the little toe on my left foot.  This was in addition to my CRPS, and it was due to a nicked Lateral Plantar Nerve.  I had had many doctors consult with me regarding this, and I was always told that they had never seen anything like it.  They had no idea what to do, etc.  Thus, I had been dealing/living with my little toe being in continual spams since 2007, and in 3 days, we were able to get my little to stop moving!  Wow, this was a mechanical problem and it had stopped.  This was huge!  Talk about bringing a smile to my face. It was intriguing to see how the process of hypnosis could access areas of the brain to stop the continuous signals being sent out.

Yes, it was an intense week of learning, working, and following all of the instructions given me, but to have my ‘Comfort Levels’ drop to ZERO for the first time since 2006 when I sprained my ankle, then was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), it was well worth it.

One of the things that I learned was that every cell has a memory.  It is essential to provide the cells with a new memory other than pain, and when you do this, new memories will take hold as the cells regenerate every 90 days.  Thus, in approximately 90 days after arriving home, new memories should be strong.

When I arrived home I was barraged with questions, because friends and family members immediately noticed a marked difference in my demeanor, a bigger smile on my face, my ability to put weight on my left foot for the first time since 2006, and an overall sense of well-being.  This was after 5 days with of treatment with hypnosis in a multi-therapeutic approach.

Once home and settled, I put myself into a routine that included listening to the CDs of the sessions that I had completed, doing self-hypnosis, and utilizing the tools given to me.  After the first week home, I was no longer utilizing my cane to walk.  I still needed to work on my gait, but this was a big milestone.  During this time, I also met with my Pain Management doctor.  He was used to me going to Germany for treatment and coming back with their protocols, but this time, he had no idea what to expect.  When he entered the exam room, I was sitting there with socks and running shoes on, no cane and long pants that could touch my ankle and medial side of my foot. 

My Pain Management doctor looked at me, pushed back on his stool, and started looking around the room. He was in disbelief at what he was seeing.  He then asked me to take off my left shoe and sock, because he wanted to see if my left little toe was still spasming or doing the rhythmical movement.  When he saw that it was not moving, I had shoes on, my coloration was not off in my foot, and I was feeling great, he was dumbfounded.  He next words were, “I’m being punked. Where are the cameras and how are you doing this?”  I had to laugh.  He wanted to know what I did in my treatments, but since he doesn’t understand what I did, he was skeptical.  Then when I asked him to take me off of my pain medications, he was awestruck.  He hesitated, to say the least, because he wasn’t sure this was going to hold.  As I told him, I am confident in where I am and what I have accomplished.  I have no pain at this time, so I don’t feel that I should continue on pain medications, and I asked again to be titrated off of them.

Week by week, I continued to see progress.  Having the ability to walk my dog at the park with no pain, completely comfortable, completing household chores with no discomfort, babysitting my nephew who was 6 months old with complete confidence, and spending time with my family in activities that I would not have been able to have done previously, these are all the rewards of learning self-hypnosis and following through with what I was taught during my treatment.

Now over 3 years later I continue to be completely pain free and have had the ability to regain my life.  It is important for people living with CRPS and other chronic pain conditions to hear about positive outcomes such as mine.  This is not a one off or something that cannot happen to others.  As a matter of fact I am honored to be able to treat chronic pain patients now with HCT (Hypnosis Combined Therapy).  This protocol is very similar to what helped me get into remission with some exciting changes based upon medical advanced.

I’m now seeing clients on an international basis with outstanding outcomes.

I know for some it is hard to believe, but trust me with everything that I went through with treatments in the United States (Traditional Western Medicine), in Frankfurt, German (Integrative Medicine), Mexico (Integrative Medicine), and then back to the US to be treated by a highly recommended clinic… I think I can say I looked at everything, tried just about everything and found what worked for me.  I have heard from others with CRPS that they have tried hypnosis and it just doesn’t work.  I too tried hypnosis prior to going back to be treated in 2013, my previous treatments with hypnosis didn’t help me – then again they were not well versed in chronic pain and not certified in ‘Pain Management’ either.  When I was referred to the last clinic I was told by everyone that it was the best, that they did things differently, and they do – they work with the biology and physiology of the brain and how it causes Chronic Pain.  It is a completely different way of looking at things, working with Chronic Pain and finding a solution for the pain.  What works for one will not necessarily work for all, but if it is successful for one it is likely going to be successful for many!

Now you have a better understanding of what Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is, how it affects a patient, just a little bit about what we go through and some of the treatments we endure.  I was a fortunate patient in that I was able to get into remission in 2013. 

I was determined to find a treatment somewhere, some way to help me regain my life, and I did it!  I went from not being able to have anything touch the areas where I had CRPS to being able to put a sock on my foot, to wearing a shoe and not being in pain.  I got my life back.

This is why I am so passionate about sharing my story, getting information out about chronic pain, trying to educate as many people as possible on the effects of CRPS/RSD and chronic pain syndromes, and viable treatment options.

Let me ask this question before you read on… if you or a loved one are willing to look at opioid therapy, spinal cord stimulators, pain pumps and other invasive treatments that are only bandaides… why are you not willing to seriously look at other treatments that have worked on other CRPS/RSD and chronic pain patients?  Is it because your doctor(s) are not talking to you about these types of treatments?  Possibly because the pharmaceutical companies are not advertising it or the insurance companies are not pushing it? Yes, I know that many patients, like me, find out about these treatment options after going through the ringer.  But, if this is a way to get your life back, to regain what you lost, and to start fresh… is it not worth taking a serious look at your options?   Please take a serious look at what will really work to help you or your loved one in the long run.   No, not every treatment is right for every patient, but if it is evidence based and non-invasive is it not worth looking into? 

HCT by Traci Patterson is helping chronic patients that have been diagnosed with CRPS/RSD, neuropathic pain, Fibromyalgia, cancer pain, phantom limb pain, PTSD, migraines, etc… to regain their lives on a global basis.  

I have a dynamic background from a perspective that few if any one other Certified Instructor and  Clinical Hypnotist can offer.  My background as a chronic pain patient diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), someone that was treated with/utilized hypnosis to get into remission, and is now a practicing hypnotist is rare.  I have patients that contact me on a global basis searching for viable treatment options.   

If you have questions regarding CRPS, my story or would like information on how you or a loved one can find relief from chronic pain please contact me.

 Info@Advancedpathways.com  | http://www.AdvancedPathways.com | 714-717-6633

CRPS Treatment Options: Why aren’t physicians discussing all options with their patients?

ByTraci Patterson, CH, CI – CRPS Survivor and Owner of Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

Treatment for complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) must be individualized.  No one treatment will work for everyone.  That being said it is very important that patients have access to information on all treatment options available.

Treatment methods are continuously evolving as research and clinical practice provides new evidence and insights, but most physicians are not staying up to date on the latest treatment options. For example it was once thought that sympathetic nerve blocks were a diagnostic tool and a curative procedure. This has been disproven over time yet most Pain Management doctors are still performing them regularly on CRPS/RSD patients.

The majority of the physicians out there will want to start with anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS), pain medications, Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy, local/regional blocks and then move on to sympathetic nerve blocks.   If there is no improvement with these modalities the next conversation will most likely be about having a Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted, or a pain pump that delivers morphine directly to the nerves affected in the spine.

What happens to the patient when they are told by their physician there is nothing more they can do?  Do you just continue on large quantities of pain medications and continue down the slippery slope?  Or do you fight to find something that will help, a treatment that can possibly put this awful condition into remission?

I have been on both sides of this.  I personally was diagnosed with a very aggressive, volatile case of CRPS.  Local and regional blocks did not work on me.  My Pain Management doctor was dumbfounded when this occurred.  Thus we moved onto lumbar sympathetic nerve blocks (LSB).  I had 13 LSB, until the last one caused my adrenal glands to completely shut down.  This landed me in the hospital for a week.  Following this my Pain Management doctor stated we could no longer do any LSB.  His next step was talking to me about having a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) implanted.  I was against the idea and had a really bad gut feeling about it, but I was told this was the last option I had to reduce my pain.  I went through with the trial and it went well.  Approximately 6 months later I had a Medtronic SCS implanted.  I had nothing but issues with it.  Every time I charged the battery it caused my affected foot to swell.  They could not figure out why this was happening.  The next step was to have the battery replaced with a non-rechargeable battery.  I underwent the surgery to change out the batteries in hopes this would correct any issues.  Keep in mind that with each of these surgeries I had to be admitted to the hospital to control my pain, even though they were supposed to be an outpatient procedure.  Unfortunately, the second surgery to change the battery did not help.  I then started to have issues with the paddle that was implanted.  Long story short, they had to explant the Medtronic SCS and implanted a Boston Scientific SCS. It was during this time that my CRPS moved into my back!  I had asked my Neurosurgeon if this could happen and was assured it wouldn’t – it did happen after all…  I had this one for less than 6 months when I lost the ability to control the stimulation.  Upon further review of the situation and my symptoms it was determined that I had a buildup of scar tissue on my Dura which could cause paralysis if the SCS was not removed.  In Feb., 2011 the last SCS was ex planted from my spine.  At that point I was told by my Pain Management doctor, who is highly regarded, that there was nothing else he could do except to keep me on pain medication.  He was ultimately throwing his hands up in the air!  This did not set well with me.  I was dumbfounded that none of my doctors (Pain Management, Neuro Surgeon, Neurologist or GP) had anything more to offer me.  I had to research viable alternative treatment options on my own.

This is what the typical CRPS/RSD patient goes through once they receive their diagnosis.  Yet, the reality is there are other treatment options out there as I found out.  Treatment options that allowed me to get pain free and in remission.

The big question should be why physicians, hospitals and universities are not better informed about viable treatment options for CRPS/RSD, neuropathic pain and other chronic pain conditions, and what can be done to get the information out to the doctors that are treating us?

Some current treatment methods:

  • Antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Sometimes antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, and anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin), are used to treat pain that originates from a damaged nerve (neuropathic pain).
  • Corticosteroids. Steroid medications, such as prednisone, may reduce inflammation and improve mobility in the affected limb.
  • Bone-loss medications. Your doctor may suggest medications to prevent or stall bone loss, such as alendronate (Fosamax) and calcitonin (Miacalcin).
  • Sympathetic nerve-blocking medication. Injection of an anesthetic to block pain fibers in your affected nerves may relieve pain in some people.
  • Intravenous ketamine. Studies show that low doses of intravenous ketamine, a strong anesthetic, may substantially alleviate pain. However, despite pain relief, there was no improvement in function.

Therapies

  • Applying heat and cold. Applying cold may relieve swelling and sweating. If the affected area is cool, applying heat may offer relief.
  • Topical analgesics. Various topical treatments are available that may reduce hypersensitivity, such as capsaicin cream (Capsin, Capsagel, Zostrix) or lidocaine patches (Lidoderm, others).
  • Physical therapy. Gentle, guided exercising of the affected limbs may help decrease pain and improve range of motion and strength. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more effective exercises may be.
  • Occupational therapy. Mirror box therapy, and desensitization of affected limbs. Assisting with activities of daily living, improving range of motion and strength.  The earlier this is utilized in the diagnosis, the more effective it is.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Chronic pain is sometimes eased by applying electrical impulses to nerve endings.
  • Biofeedback. In some cases, learning biofeedback techniques may help. In biofeedback, you learn to become more aware of your body so that you can relax your body and relieve pain.
  • Spinal cord stimulation. Your doctor inserts tiny electrodes along your spinal cord. A small electrical current delivered to the spinal cord results in pain relief. (Always do your research prior to moving forward with the implantation of a SCS or pain pump.)

Alternative/Complementary Therapies

  • Calmare therapy. Non-invasive, drug-free treatment option. Many time ‘boost treatments’ need to be completed to stay pain free with CRPS/RSD.
  • Clinical Hypnosis. Non-invasive, drug-free treatment option. The utilization of hypnosis and a multi-therapeutic approach is proving to be an effective treatment option for CRPS/RSD.  Those patients going through a ‘One Week Intensive’ have been able to significantly decrease their pain if not completely get into remission.  Working with someone well versed in chronic pain, pain management, biofeedback, neuroplasticity training, etc. will give CRPS or chronic pain patients the best outcomes.

Some Pain Management physicians that I have spoken to have stated that they are treating their patients in the manner that they were taught (i.e while in medical school and residency…).  The outline they verbally gave me pretty much mimicked how I was treated and how thousands of other patients are treated with CRPS/RSD.  The stark reality is that new treatment methods are continuously evolving as research and clinical practice provides new evidence and insights, but most physicians are so inundated with the number of patients that they have to see in a day, charting and regulations that it is extremely difficult to stay up to date on the latest treatment options.  This is not an excuse but reality.

If we stop to think about this it does make sense.  Pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars every year in an effort to ensure that their information and medications are in front of or in the hands of doctors.  Durable medical equipment (DME) companies do the same thing.  As a matter of fact they go as far as making sure their products and services are well known at the university levels too.  The bottom line is that updated information on alternative treatment options must be circulated back to those physicians and facilities that are treating patients with CRPS/RSD and any chronic pain condition (fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, chronic migraines, etc.).

Living with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or any type of chronic pain is challenging, especially if you don’t have a proper treatment plan or access to all your treatment options.  Share information with your treating physician from reliable sources and don’t be afraid to ask about alterative or complementary treatment options that may be available.

If you would like more information on CRPS/RSD, alternative/complementary treatment options, or the author – Traci Patterson please contact us at:

Info@AdvancedPathways.com  |  714-717-6633  |  http://www.AdvancedPathways.com

References

1.McMahon SB, et al. Wall and Melzack’s Textbook of Pain. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier. 2013. https://www.clinicalkey.com.

2.Ferri FF. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com.

3.Borchers AT, et al. Complex regional pain syndrome: A comprehensive and critical review. Autoimmunity Reviews. In press. Accessed

4.Abdi S. Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home.

5.Complex regional pain syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/reflex_sympathetic_dystrophy/detail_reflex_sympathetic_dystrophy.htm.

6.Abdi S. Prevention and management of complex regional pain syndrome in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home.

7.Complex regional pain syndrome treatment page. RSDSA. http://rsda.org/treatment/