Editor’s Note: November is National CRPS Awareness Month. Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic, little-known condition. In this story, a Laurel Hill woman shares her experience.
CRESTVIEW — For Brandi Fickling, pain is a part of everyday life. The Laurel Hill resident said she’s had complex regional pain syndrome since 2013.
"I had basically overextended the nerves and tendons in my arms and my shoulder," she said.
Afterward, she developed symptoms including extreme pain, clawing in her right hand, redness and warmth and swelling in the injured area.
Fickling didn’t get a CRPS diagnosis until six months after the incident.
"They had no idea what was going on,” she said. “They bounced me from neurosurgeons to orthopedists to rheumatologists. I actually have a disorder called Ehlers-Danlos (syndrome). They thought it had something to do with that. Technically, it is related, so they figured it had something to do with my tendons," she said.
According to the American RSD Hope website at http://www.rsdhope.org/, CRPS is a progressive disease of the autonomic nervous system. The pain it causes "is characterized as a constant, extremely intense, and out of proportion to the original injury," the website states. Swelling, skin changes, excessive sweating in the limbs, and extreme pain are among the usual symptoms.
The results can affect someone’s lifestyle. Before CRPS, Fickling said, "I used to do a lot of activities with my kids and now I can't really do that much — a field trip here and there. So I'm pretty much at home all the time and going to a doctor's appointment.”
Treatment, in Fickling's case, is a combination of relaxation, physical therapy and pain medication. She also sees a pain management specialist and a neurologist.
For now, she wants to spread awareness.
"This can start just from getting a hang nail or getting a cut on your hand,” Fickling said. “It doesn't usually come from anything major. It really doesn't take much.
“So if you continue to have excessive pain from (an) injury, it's time to get it looked at by a doctor.”