Sunday, January 8, 2012

Craig Adams - His Pain, Their Suffering

This is Part 2 in a series on Craig Adams and his battle with chronic pain.  
Click here to read Part 1.

Craig with his daughter Thalia.
Any professional who has worked with chronic pain patients knows of the challenges this work can bring. Pain cannot be measured on an X-ray or an MRI and each patient experiences pain differently. One thing that is common with all pain patients is the fact that their loved ones suffer as well.

His Pain...
Craig suffered an injury to his right ankle in October of 2003. A suspected rupture in the calcaneofibula ligament, his doctor originally thought it would heal on its own with a couple weeks of rest.  After months of swelling and instability in the joint, Craig underwent surgery in April of 2004. He began physical therapy, but continued to experience swelling and pain. As Craig recalls, "The pain was getting worse and coming up my leg. I have never experienced so much pain in my life. I had excruciating pain all the time now. Daytime it was not so bad but a lot of swelling day and night. At night it was explosive pain as soon as night came on 4,5,6, o’clock. No mater how much medication I had, it did nothing for the pain."

The swelling persisted.
His condition continued to deteriorate and he was eventually prescribed anti-depressants along with his pain medication, but nothing seemed to help. It was even suggested that the pain was all in his head. He still had swelling, burning pain, discoloration of the limb and intense headaches. His physical therapist thought he might have RSD. He continued with his therapy but felt he was on a downward spiral. He began to experience a different type of pain in his head, along with blackouts and the inability to move his right leg or arm. His neurologist suspected that he suffered a stroke.

Eventually, he injured his left leg and knee and in 2005 underwent a second surgery with a different surgeon. That surgeon confirmed the diagnosis of RSD in the right ankle and expressed concern over it spreading to the left side as well. His right ankle required another surgery, but due to the aggressive nature of RSD, he was not a candidate for surgery. Craig was bedridden with severe swelling, in pain from his ankle to his hip, dribbling from the right side of his mouth and unable to control his urine. When he thought he had reached rock bottom and his pain could not get any worse, it progressed to the left side, his back and even his neck.

Their suffering...
It was now 2007. For four years Craig's wife and daughters offered support and helped in any way they could but felt helpless as they watched the husband and father they once knew slip away from them. His youngest daughter Thalia, born in 2006, used to touch his leg and say "Dad sore...sore". Meanwhile, his eldest daughter, Sophie, born in 1996, searched for a way to help her dad with RSD on the internet for days and nights in between her school work. She called to him, "Dad! Get up, get out here, I've found something!" When asked about this moment Craig recalled,
"The pain is unbearable. There’s nothing possible I can do to get away from this pain. I think I’m going to die. I can't, my legs have no feeling, my back...I do not know it any more...I can’t move, I want to get up but I can't! my brain wants to go, but my body can't. I don’t know if I will be here heart is aching and stinging...I double up each time it happen."
It was eleven o'clock at night, and Sophie said she found something and it’s called the International Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation. Sophie called out, "Hey dad! Come here and look at this, there’s other people out there just like you, with same symptoms as you". Sophie went and got her mother to help and Martha said to Craig, “Get up I’m sick of seeing you in bed. I know you're in pain but we’ve got three kids and I’ve been raising them by myself for months. I love you but you have to get up. Sophie’s found something and you have to see this. There’s this bloke Eric Phillips his got RSD and he's in America, you should ring him and talk to him. Now get up! I going to keep hassling you until you get up, so you may as well do it.”  Martha and Sophie ripped the blankets off Craig, got hold of him and pushed him and pulled him around until he got so annoyed that he got up. Altogether, they helped him to the computer.

After four long years, he finally felt there was hope.

In Part 3 of Craig's Story we will learn about how biofeedback and neurofeedback helped control his pain.



  1. As a neurofeedback trainer, I'm pretty sure I know how this story ends. Nevertheless, I'm holding my breath waiting for part 3!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. As a professional working in the field, you know the benefits that neurofeedback training can provide. One of our goals in creating this blog is to share stories like Craig's so that other chronic pain sufferers might benefit from his experience. We also hope to raise awareness about bio/neurofeedback both to health professionals and the general public. Oh, and stay tuned for Part 3!

  2. People may be interested to know that on June 27th Craig is the subject of a live SEMG Intrapelvic Assessment by Dr. Howard Glazer. Dr. Glazer is an international expert in pelvic pain. For more details contact the BFE-Glazer team at

  3. Biofeedback/Neurofeedback Training and Seminars are designed to teach clinicians biofeedback fundamentals and cutting-edge applications.