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The Minneapolis Children's Hospital and Ensuring CRPS Support for Families

Katherine Jackman

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Dealing with a medical condition of any kind can be a challenge, but there is a different set of challenges in place when you act as a carer to someone in your family with a complex condition. It can be time-consuming and exhausting, but ensuring that your loved one receives the proper care is so important. This is especially true when the condition is something like CRPS, which stands for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which results in frequent, debilitating pain in a limb that has been affected, usually after an accident.

The UK currently lacks resources for CRPS sufferers and a lot of uncertainty still surrounds the condition, which not only puts a lot of pressure on people with the condition but the people caring for them. Family members acting as carers run the risk of burning themselves out simply because there are no other real options available to sufferers in the country. However, looking to our friends across the ocean may give us some much-needed inspiration, as America is currently leading the way forward in treatments for chronic pain, particularly when it comes to children suffering from such conditions.

In January this year, Minneapolis saw the grand opening of the largest children’s clinic in North America, specialising in pain, palliative and integrative medicine. Integrative medicine is the marrying of western and eastern medical practices in order to ease chronic pain conditions, which affects countless people across the world. Expensive and ambitious, the hospital is already proving to be a huge success, garnering thousands of visitors a month and with ambitions to widen treatment even further.

Such a project, which even has a massage parlour and acupuncture services, was all made possibly entirely through donations, which speaks volumes to people’s generosity and willingness to give a helping hand when it’s most needed. This hospital offers a combination of treatments that have proven successful for at least one little girl with CRPS. Caroline Marshall broke her foot and began to experience intense arthritic pain that prevented her from sleeping well or even attending school.

Her concerned mother brought Caroline to the hospital in Minneapolis, and through a combination of non-pharmaceutical meds, physical therapy and psychiatric support, she was nearly pain free within months of starting the treatment. While a concrete cure may be a while off yet, this case shows that a manageable life with CRPS is possible, for both the sufferer and the carer.

So what can we learn from a story like this? Places like the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital are beacons of hope for people with complex and poorly understood conditions like CRPS, but they also offer something else of value, namely CRPS support for families . The UK needs a similar facility, one that offers integrative care and works to provide a more rounded, complete form of treatment, and hopefully we will see such a facility in the future. Until then, sites like Burning Nights will continue to raise awareness of CRPS through activism and sales, paving the way for a brighter tomorrow.


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