Two promising new treatments are being trialled for people with severe chronic pain.
Around 5000 Australians each year are diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) which often occurs after an injury or trauma.
It usually affects the hands, feet and limbs with sufferers experiencing severe burning, stinging and stabbing pain.
“It almost feels like the nerves are on fire and I can feel the pain deep in my bones,” Erica Bateman said.
Ms Bateman, 38, was diagnosed with the condition after the pain started in her right hand.
During that time she was doing intense computer work.
Since then the pain has worsened and spread throughout her body.
Ms Bateman relies on distraction techniques and keeps active as medication only provides up to 30 per cent of relief.
“Even last night, I was up most of the night,” she said.
“There are very few treatments for this group of people, very few treatments shown to be effective,” Professor James McAuley, Senior Research Scientist at Neuroscience Research Australia and University of NSW said.
Neura researchers are leading the largest ever trial of two promising interventions involving rehabilitation and a TGA-approved medication that is being repurposed for pain in trial participants.
The rehabilitation includes mirror therapy where a series of exercises on the unaffected hand or foot are reflected in a mirror to retrain the brain of sufferers who process pain signals differently.
“We try to trick the brain by thinking that the hand is normal and moving in a normal way,” lead investigator, Professor James McAuley said.
The trial will be delivered remotely so participants can receive the interventions from the comfort of their own home.
Neura is recruiting 160 patients across Australia.
“We think that this trial gives people with CRPS hope,” Professor McAuley said.
More information can be found here.