A little-understood illness has left a Sydney teenager wracked with pains “worse than childbirth” – but there’s no physical damage to show for it.
Chloe, 14, has been diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a neurological condition that leaves sufferers’ skin overly sensitive to touch.
Last November, she was taken to the hospital because agony had erupted in her foot.Chloe Davenport, 14, has complex regional pain syndrome.
She went in and out of hospital for weeks before she was diagnosed.
Now, the pain has moved from her foot to her right arm and hand, which are visibly redder and swollen than her left.
Even the touch of a feather on her arm feels like being stabbed with a knife, she told A Current Affair.CRPS leaves her incredible sensitive to touch.
Her mum Mandy said she sometimes had to help Chloe dress.
“The thing that kills us, (that) gives us many a sleepless night is this could go on forever,” she said.
Doctors say the pain is more severe than labour pains.
Even a feather on her arm feels like a knife.Chloe’s parents Grant and Mandy.
“I want other kids my age to understand and get answers as well, because the one thing that frightened me the most was not understanding what it was,” Chloe said.
Psychologist Peter Drummond of Perth’s Murdoch University is a leading researcher into the disorder.
“We don’t really understand why some people get it and other people don’t,” he said.
The condition has physical effects, with Chloe’s afflicted hand noticeably redder and swollen.The pain originated in Chloe’s foot but moved.
“It does affect women and girls more than boys and men.”
Although in many cases CRPS is not a response to any injury or trauma, it does have a physical effect on the body.
Professor Drummond said afflicted limbs experienced changes in bloody flow and sweating, and often swelled up.
Psychologist Peter Drummond said not much about CRPS was understood.
The condition affects 20 people in every 100,000, and the outlook for sufferers is grim.
Dr Philip Finch, who treats patients with CRPS, said much of the disorder was still not understood.
“Unfortunately when people get this condition it often doesn’t get better,” he said.
“We can improve people with treatment but often they have this condition and it fluctuates in intensity over the years.”