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Retraining the brain to stop the pain

“They’re probably just growing pains,” my mom would say in an upbeat, informative tone of voice, as though that insight would serve as a dab of verbal salve to ease the ache of the weird “pains without an obvious cause” that I occasionally experienced while growing up. “Give them time, they’ll go away.”

And she was always right. Those weird, seemingly sourceless pains – often in my legs – always faded. Lots of kids have pains like that, but sometimes the pain doesn’t go away – sometimes it just keeps getting worse. In that vein, there’s a story out of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital about a 13-year-old girl who had heel pain, without any obvious cause, that got so severe she couldn’t even dip her heel in water.

She ended up being treated by Elliot Krane, MD, director of the Pediatric Pain Management Program at Packard Children's. How he and an occupational therapist treated her by “retraining” her brain and some misfiring nerves is a fascinating read – all about coping with the mysterious realm of complex regional pain syndrome.

And for more, Krane discusses the complexities associated with treating CRPS in this TED talk and shares information on how nerves work in this TED Ed talk.

Previously: Exploring the mystery of pain, Helping kids manage chronic painMore progress in the quest for a “painometer”, A call to fight chronic-pain epidemic, Relieving Pain in America: A new report from the Institute of Medicine and Elliot Krane discusses the mystery of chronic pain

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