Monthly Archives: November 2007

Toughing it out

Toughing it out
Bothell girls deal with RSD

Fifteen-year-old Kallyn Jacobson keeps telling herself the pain of her disorder isn’t real. She’s right.

The severe aching and burning in her limbs isn’t caused by a lingering injury. Her nerves are just going haywire.

Thirteen-year-old Hanna Lynn has the same problem, only it generates from her abdomen. She makes frequent visits to a chiropractor, who performs a series of cranial massages until her pain level drops from a 10 — the highest degree — to a four.

Like Kallyn, she is willing to try anything. Living with chronic pain is no way to spend one’s youth.

Both teens suffer from reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), a malfunctioning of the nervous system set off by simple trauma to the body.

It was a sports injury that sent Kallyn into a downward spiral. She sprained her ankle while kicking an air ball during a soccer game in September 2006.

The injury didn’t set off any alarms. Jacobson managed to play another 20 minutes because of the adrenaline coursing through her body. It wasn’t until she removed her shin guards after the game that severe swelling started to occur.

Orthopedic doctors told her it was a hyper-extension of the nerves and tendons on top of her foot. At worst, she had a severe sprain with bleeding of the joint.

Kallyn’s foot felt worse eight weeks later. It was ice cold and changing colors from red to green to yellow. A slight breeze would cause her skin to burn.

More than a year has passed since Kallyn injured her foot. The pain now affects both legs, as well as her hips and lower back. This is more than a sprain.

“I wouldn’t wish this on Timothy McVeigh,” said Kallyn’s dad, Jake Jacobson. “No one deserves to go through this pain and frustration.”

Kallyn now uses a wheelchair to get around. Walking is too excruciating.

There are times when the discomfort is so extreme she can only lie in bed crying, repeating that phrase: “The pain isn’t real.”

“I get so frustrated and confused,” Kallyn said. “I can tell myself I’m not in pain, but that doesn’t stop it.”

Neither do all the pain medications, supplements and sleeping pills she’s taking.

Doctors know little about how to treat RSD effectively, although a few things have been known to help reduce the agony it causes, like nerve blocking, physical therapy and spinal-cord stimulation. A combination of techniques is normally required to achieve positive results.

Hanna, who has been dealing with RSD for more than two years, lowered her average pain level from seven to six with chiropractic treatments, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, electronic spinal stimulation and a cocktail of prescription medications. But the condition is spreading to other areas like her head, face and left arm.

“It’s painful and discouraging to see it get worse and know there’s nothing you can do,” said Hanna’s mother, Chris Lynn. “She’s trying so hard to be a normal kid, but this is just an awful disease.”

There are times when a slight touch, noise or vibration sends shock waves through Hanna’s body. Even a comforting hug can be overwhelming.

“As a parent, that’s excruciating,” Chris said. “It’s a parent’s first instinct. All I can giver her during those times is my presence and my prayers. I just turn off the lights, block out all the stimulators and hold her good hand.”

Hanna developed RSD after surgeons removed a non-cancerous tumor from her stomach at the age of 11. The operation caused stress ulcers, which doctors treated with medication.

The internal stomach sores went away, but Hanna’s pain increased.

“Nobody really believed me, but the pain was getting worse,” she said. “Doctors thought it was just the pain as normal, which, of course, it wasn’t.”

Both Hanna and Kallyn saw several specialists before doctors finally diagnosed them with RSD.

“It’s really discrediting to the parent and child,” Chris said. “They need to be better educated on RSD. I think they did their best with the knowledge they had, but I’m really interested in spreading the knowledge so it’s considered more in diagnosis and treatment.”

People with RSD report seeing an average of five physicians before receiving an accurate diagnosis, according to the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association.

The Jacobsons will host a spaghetti feed at the American Legion hall in Bothell Nov. 2 to spread awareness about RSD and raise funds for Kallyn’s various treatments, which include visits with naturopathic doctors at the Bastyr Health Clinic, hyperbaric oxygen therapy in California and specialized chiropractic care from Dr. Bruce Davis, the same craniopathic physician that Hanna uses.

Insurance companies don’t cover most RSD treatments, since the methods haven’t been proven to work.

Kallyn’s condition isn’t getting any better. Her average pain level is higher than it was a few months ago.

But encouragement has come from many directions. The Jacobsons’ previous fund-raiser, a yard and bake sale in August, netted $5,000.

“People were dropping off checks without even buying anything,” said Kallyn’s mother, Demery Jacobson. “The support was amazing.”

Kallyn and her boyfriend also attended their first homecoming dance at Inglemoor High this month.

“I was definitely in a ton of pain, but it was worth it,” Kallyn said. “That was my best day in like a year. I had a date with Prince Charming, that’s how I would describe it.”

Kallyn claims that her family, above all, makes RSD bearable.

“I have a loving home, and great support,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m going through this alone.

“There are people who have it way worse in this world. I actually have a great life if you put the RSD aside.”

• The Jacobsons’ spaghetti feed fund-raiser takes place from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Bothell American Legion hall (19213 Bothell Way N.E., Bothell).

Donors can also contribute to Kallyn’s benevolent account at Washington Mutual. Checks should be made to: FBO Kallyn Jacobson.

For information on RSD, visit

Click Here For The Original Article Online.



The November Pain-Blog carnival…

The November Pain-Blog carnival is up:

How to Cope with Pain
is now offering a monthly Pain-Blog Carnival during the last week of every month, to include each month’s best posts. November’s carnival is now posted. New bloggers are always welcome to contribute.

Thanks for everyone’s contributions! I’ve added a few new people to this email, and hope you can submit next month.

Next month: Submit your favorite December post by
Monday, December 24 (no theme), and the carnival will be Monday, December 31. I’ll look forward to your submissions again next month.
Happy Holidays to all!



Woman trapped inside a body of pain

***** Watch Video Here*****

Woman trapped inside a body of pain

7:20 AM

07:20 AM EST on Wednesday, November 14, 2007

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CONCORD, N.C. — Margaret Yuckel was an outgoing graphic designer with Richard Childress Racing. That was before chronic pain took over her life. Now, the wife and mother of three says she’s trapped inside her own body.

Yuckel suffers from RSD, also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, the most debilitating form of chronic pain.

It’s a neurological disorder where the nerves send constant pain signals to the brain.

Yuckel says she can’t spend much time outside her Concord home because the slightest breeze feels like fire on her skin.

“One of the things with RSD is temperature,” Yuckel said. “Anything cold, feels like I’m standing in dry ice.”

Even her hair that once brushed her shoulders had to go. The pain was too much.

Dr. Stephen Pociask, with Southeast Pain Care, is Yuckel’s doctor.

He says there is little known about what causes RSD.

“It could start with something as simple as an ankle sprain or from something more devastating, like a traumatic injury to an arm or a leg,” said Pociask.

In Margaret’s case, it started at work. While sitting at her desk, she swung around in her chair and hit her foot on the side of her desk.

It never healed.

Within months the pain spread up her leg and eventually into her arm.

Now, two years later, even her 5-year-old son knows where mommy can’t be touched.

“The pain medication helps, but it’s kind of like a rollercoaster,” said Yuckel.

As a last resort, doctors put two spinal cord stimulators in Yuckel’s back.

“We try to override the painful sensations they have with a non-painful sensation, kind of like a tingling sensation in her upper and lower extremities,” said Pociask.

Yuckel says the spinal stimulators barely dull the pain.

There’s no cure for RSD and doctors admit it’s difficult to control.

Despite her world being turned upside down, Margaret says she still looks forward to every day.

“Just keep your spirits up, I guess, and pray,” said Yuckel. “I do a lot of praying.”

For more information on RSD, also known as RSDS, long on to

***** Watch Video Here*****

Click Here For The Original Article Online.


Glia Stoke Morphine’s Fires

Glia Stoke Morphine’s Fires

By Jeanne Erdmann
ScienceNOW Daily News
9 November 2007

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA–Opioid drugs such as morphine are the most powerful painkillers. Unfortunately, in some patients their narcotic effects lead to addiction and the need for ever-escalating doses to quell pain. New research with rats shows that blocking morphine’s action on glia–a type of support cell in the nervous system–can reduce these downsides while heightening its potency against pain.

Over the past decade, scientists have discovered that glial cells heighten nerve pain, such as sciatica, by exciting the neurons that transmit pain signals. Morphine deadens pain by acting at nerve synapses, but it also activates glial cells, possibly worsening the drug’s side effects, such as drowsiness, tolerance, worsening of pain, and addiction.

To tease apart morphine’s effects on glia and neurons, neuroscientists Linda Watkins and Mark Hutchinson of the University of Colorado, Boulder, took advantage of a drug called AV411 that blocks morphine’s effects on glia but not on neurons. It boosted the painkiller: Rats injected with AV411 and morphine showed less response to a painful test than did rats given morphine alone. Watkins and Hutchinson also found that over time, morphine better retained its pain-relieving potency in the rats that also received AV411.

Doctors prescribe morphine for pain relief, but opioids come with the potential for addiction or abuse. To check for a link between glia and morphine addiction, the pair tested whether blocking morphine’s effects on glial cells would keep rats from craving the drug. In this test, the pain-free animals learned that they would receive a drug in one area and not in another. Animals that enjoy receiving a drug tend to return to the drug area over and over. Rats in the AV411-plus-morphine group wandered around rather than returning to the drug area, the researchers reported here 5 November at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

By showing that glial cells “play a previously unsuspected role in pathological pain,” says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the research helps pave the way toward developing new, potent, nonaddictive medications.

Click Here For The Original Article Online.