Reducing Stress

There is a very direct correlation between stress and inflammation and pain for CRPS patients. As a care giver, a central responsibility is to understand what causes (and reduces) stress for your loved one or patient. This requires clear communication with the patient to best understand what causes them their particular stresses, and doing what you can to reduce or remove them each day. It may be creating a more orderly living space, or a well-defined schedule. It may be making it easier to remember medication schedules by putting reminders on your phone for medication times. It may be managing the calendar of doctor’s appointments so they don’t have to. It may be ensuring that you both get out of the bedroom (or wherever you tend to spend most of your time when the pain is debilitating) into another part of the house, or outside. It may be finding new things that you can do together- going to the movies instead of for a walk, having friends come over for pot luck rather than going out to a restaurant, or gardening for a half hour when the pain allows it. For Lee and me, it is all of these things. Many of the same things that can cause a CRPS patient to be depressed, also predictably can create stress- Isolation, loss of purpose, loss of hope for a better future, loss of intimacy because touch is so difficult much of the time.

As a caregiver, you must also be aware of your own stresses and do what you can to manage them. Mediation, exercise, hobbies, time with friends and family- all of these benefit you as well as the one suffering with CRPS. Ensure that you make your own wellbeing a priority. This is a lifelong situation and you have to make sure you are set up to be healthy yourself and take care of your patient/loved one for the long haul. As you research CRPS and caring for someone who has this disease, you will find this advice in many other places because it is important. Self care is the foundation for taking the best care of someone else.

There is a struggle for caregivers of someone with CRPS. It is the perception that you cannot lessen their pain. But you can, in part by focusing on how to reduce the stresses in their lives. This helps in a direct and meaningful way.

Lee Greenan