New Treatment May Relieve Suffers Of CRPS
Jun 3, 2005 2:56 pm US/Central
CHICAGO (CBS 2)
Chronic regional pain syndrome or CRPS produces crippling nerve pain that desperate patients would go to any lengths to get rid of. Now, a radical European treatment may lead to new ways to end the suffering.
“I kinda beat the odds again and again,” said Dan Defilippo.
Twenty-five-year-old Defilippo is the sole survivor of a car crash that killed four friends. After multiple operations, he was nearly recovered, when surgery to reduce discomfort from pins in his leg, triggered unbearable pain.
“It would be so severe that I would literally black out in mid-step and fall on the floor and be unconscious from pain,” Defilippo said.
Dr. Robert Schwartzman of Drexel University Medical College diagnosed Dan with chronic regional pain syndrome. CRPS is a condition in which damaged nerves make even minor injuries overwhelmingly painful.
“What the pain does is actually change your spinal cord and your brain so that pain is magnified,” Schwartzman said.
Nothing relieved Dan’s pain so he took a drastic step. He flew to Germany for an experimeal treatment – a five-day coma induced by continuous low doses of the anesthetic ketamine.
“The fear of memory loss, the fear of death, was gone because of the pain and the quality of life was nonexistent,” Defilippo said.
Schwartzman is the only American on the German team. He says this risky treatment is used only as a last resort.
“I mean they’re dreadfully sick people, they have no life,” Schwartzman said.
The ketamine re-sets the pain mechanism in the nervous system. Many patients wake up pain-free.
“Your spinal cord seems to go back to normal,” Schwartzman said.
“I’m a changed man. It saved my life,” Defilippo said.
A life that continues to beat the odds.
The five-day coma is not approved in the U.S. Dan has created a foundation to send others to Germany for treatment.
Ketamine is also used as an animal tranquilizer and has the street name “Special k”.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
National institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Mary Ann Childers
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