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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Lou

Color the World Orange



Disclaimer: This article is intended for the public. It is only for awareness and educational purposes and reflects solely the opinion of the author. If you require assistance for your health, please reach out to trained and licensed professionals in your area.

 

Color the World Orange isn’t a late Halloween event. Orange may be associated with Halloween, but for people with chronic pain, orange is also the color that they are going to wear this Monday November 6th 2023 (Color the World Orange, the first Monday of November) to spread awareness of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a debilitating disorder that I find most challenging yet fascinating to treat.


CRPS is a complication that can arise with any injury: a fracture, a ligament tear, a muscle sprain, a surgical incision, a bruise, or a stroke. In response to the injury, the body summons its cleaning squad to clean up the wound so that the latter can start healing. By cleaning squad, I mean inflammation. And cleaning will normally not take forever, but sometimes it will, because the brain is unable to send correct instructions to its cleaning squad. And that could be because the brain is out of commission, still in shock from the overwhelming amount of pain it had to quickly process at the time of injury. As a result, the cleaning squad keeps cleaning, and the healing squad keeps waiting. Overcleaning causes further pain. An unhealed wound also causes further pain. An already burned-out brain keeps burning out. Such is the downward spiral of pain that victims of CRPS can be stuck with.


CRPS is very hard to treat but usually, the faster it is detected and treated, the better the chance of getting out of that downward spiral of pain. For now, treatments focus mainly on the brain and its nerves, which I like to compare to an electrical panel and its electrical wiring that runs throughout the house to control all electrical appliances. Sometimes in an electrical panel, we can witness corrosion, low voltage, burnt fuses, loose wires, or tripped breakers. A good electrician will do the necessary clean up, voltage calibration, component replacement, rewiring, and rebooting. Treating the brain is very similar in the sense that it can allow itself to be cleaned, calmed down, rewired, and rebooted. These can be attempted with medications, with surgery, through psychological techniques, or through physical therapy techniques. It is important to understand that CRPS is by no means a mental disorder but clearly a nerve disorder in the same category as a stroke.


Here I drew spooky Elbro with a strangely contortioned limb, a very funky and most painful feeling that CRPS victims sometimes experience, because the region of the brain that is responsible of detecting pain has overexpanded from being stimulated everyday and has gradually taken over the area of a neighbouring brain region that is responsible of feeling the body position in space. Less area for the latter brain region means less processing power, and therefore less precise feeling of body position in space.


If you are or think you are a victim of CRPS, please know that there’s hope, as we are always one step closer to understanding this disorder. If you want to support the cause, please join me in the movement Color the World Orange and keep showing off your old Halloween orange today Monday November 6th.

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