One of the hardest things about living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, is that it just don’t make no sense. Since my diagnosis in 2006, I have tried to accept that unpredictable sensations are just a part of this unpredictable syndrome.
The longer I have suffered with CRPS, the more I have endeavoured to learn about it. I find that having a clearer understanding of what is physiologically going on in my body helps me to not only keep a clearer head, but also to keep a sense of control over my life. One cannot control their situation if they do not understand it, correct? If I do not understand my illness then I am giving it the power of being the ‘unknown’. With knowledge, I can help to alleviate some of the overwhelming fear and anxiety that is generated when one is suffering an attack from an unknown force. It is not enough for me to simply blame CRPS as the ‘unknown force’ because the more I get inside my condition, the more I can understand it and the more hope I have that I can overcome it.
(click photo for source)
In my last post, I mentioned that I am suffering a flare up after driving my car. The main reason that driving a car is painful for me is the vibration. This has been an issue since I developed CRPS and I am only just beginning to understand why. I had long accepted that it was merely one of those things that my highly sensitised system couldn’t deal with. Yesterday, my osteopath was able to give me a better explanation as to why I was having so much difficulty in relation to vibrations when driving. In short, he explained that with my nervous system in high sensitivity mode, regulating my body’s response to vibration is another area of autonomic function that is affected. That was something that I had not considered before, so today, I did a little research about vibration and how it affects the human body.
I learnt that we have something called a ‘tonic vibration reflex’.
(click quote for source)
My old understanding of pain caused by vibration was simply “I hurt because I have a sensitised pain system”. I now have a better understanding as to why that particular trigger (vibration) would set off a flare. As quoted above, an ordinary person’s tonic vibration reflex would subside within seconds of being removed from the stimulus. I suspect, that as a symptom of my CRPS, my tonic vibration reflex is a little haywire, along with the rest of the actions that my vestibular system is responsible for. Instead of taking seconds to adjust to the removal of vibrating stimuli, my body can take hours, or even days. I am still twitching and experiencing a buzzing sensation right through my body, much like you would if you had just been operating a jackhammer, only my buzzing is painful rather than merely a sensation. It has been over 48 hours since the vibration induced flare began.
Understanding why I’m hurting might not make me hurt any less, but it does stop me from feeling the anxiety of an unknown attacker. Anxiety equals stress and stress equals muscle tension, which equals more pain. Understanding the way in which vibration is a problem means that I’ll now consider more carefully whether I can do certain activities that have been unpredictably painful in the past, such as vacuuming or operating some kitchen appliances. I no longer feel like the outcome of these activities is quite so unpredictable, because I can factor into my planning and pacing that vibration is a veritable trigger.
When I’ve recovered enough to take the wheel again, I shall take measures to attempt to lessen the effect of the car vibration. I’m thinking I need to make sure I’m wearing thick soled shoes to buffer what’s coming through the pedals and perhaps some sort of riding gloves with rubber grips for the shakes that come through the steering wheel. Hopefully knowing what the problem was and why it was affecting me will help me to avoid a repeated flare up in the future!
Love & All Those Unsaid Vibrator Jokes,
P.S. I just joined Google Connect, I don’t know much about how I use it to connect with you yet (currently read RSS feeds through Google Reader) but I’ve seen it around enough that I wanted in! Now I have a little blue box over there on the right that says I have no friends…please Google friend me….and then tell me what that means!