Graceful, Daring, and Innovative: Her CRPS Story

Since I was very young, I have been mesmerized by the athletes in the Olympic games. The power, the grace, the dedication, and the celebration. I remained glued to my TV  for this summer games as I have for years.

As I played various sports growing up, as many children do, I dreamed of that type of glory for my efforts. Though I never reached a level of accomplishment deemed worthy of a screaming crowd, the dream would be there.

So, as I read the story of a competitive ice skater suffering from Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), I found inspiration.

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a rare chronic pain disorder. It affects usually one of the four limbs, but can spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms include:

  • continuous and unusually intense pain in the affected area
  • hypersensitivity to heat and cold (as well as visual and texture changes to the skin)
  • Immobility, muscle spasms and weakness in the affected area

The symptoms are even known to be heightened by emotional stresses.

Causes include direct injury to the nerves in the area of disease and /or and injury or illness that does not directly involve that area. These include illness, surgery or injury.

The reason for the development of CRPS is not completely understood. It is thought to be dysfunction within the nervous and auto-immune symptoms. Treatment includes various oral pain medications, intravenous treatments and steroid nerve blocks.

So as I read Why I Can’t Stop Watching Competitive Sports as Someone With Chronic Pain, I felt inspired by her story. A competitive ice skater who develops CRPS from her years of grueling training, she gains a sort of power over her pain watching the drive, sacrifice, and victories of other athletes.

I was moved by this woman’s ability to, if for a moment, to escape the daily struggle and suffering of CRPS through watching what she once was and strove to be.

Though not a cure or major treatment breakthrough, she does prvide a method for personal symptom management. As a nurse, I find this ability of a person with chronic disease to find ways to manage their symptoms truly remarkable.

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