I recently had a question about the pain associated with my brachial plexus injury. It is wasn’t the best time to ask as the last few weeks have been really bad. I remember when I was first diagnosed in hospital the specialist trauma doctor immediately referred me to the Caulfield Pain Clinic in Melbourne and indicated that this was a painful injury and sufferers often experienced chronic pain. He was correct!!!

My pain has been different over the journey. Immediately after the accident it was only shooting and sharp pains in my hand. As time has gone by it has become more constant with occasional bolts of pain. The pain may have increased as I have gradually reduced the pain killers so that I could operate more effectively at work. Interestingly the therapy I receive also triggers greater pain. It seems doing he exercises stirs up the nerves.

I have discussed the pain with a number of specialists and there doesn’t seem to be a shared view. My surgeon is of the view that as the movement improves there will be a point where the pain subsides. The Caulfield Pain Clinic doctor said “this could go on for decades”, which I found depressing. And I am seeing another doctor who is an anaesthetist  and he has me trying alternative therapies as he believes there is no medical solution. He has encourage me to try anything that has some credibility.

Some of the solutions that have given relief are:

  1. The Mirror Box – a box with mirrors where you stick your bad arm in the box and watch the movement of your good arm in the mirrors as if it is your bad arm.
    Homemade Mirror Box

    Homemade Mirror Box

    Hopefully fooling your brain into thinking the good arm is moving.

  2. The App Recognise which gets you to look at hands in various positions to get your brain again to be see your injured hand moving. I found this one really hard to do initially which really shocked me.
  3. Keep busy. There is no doubt you feel the pain less when you are distracted. When I hop in the car after work the pain always arrives. I am sure it has been there during the day but I have been distracted and not noticed it.

I haven’t tried yoga yet, but I am sure it has something to offer as I believe the solution lies in mind control rather than drugs.

For those interested I still take Lyrica 75mg night and morning and 10mg  of Endep in the evenings. The Endep allows me to get a good nights sleep on most occasions.

If you have a Brachial Plexus injury don’t underestimate the pain you will have to manage and get the best support you can as it can be very demanding.

About Craig Glass

I am a 68 years old. I am Senior Vice-Principal of Haileybury, Australia's largest private school. My passion outside of family and education is triathlon. I have raced over all distances with the highlight being completing the Ironman in 2011. Whilst training for my next Ironman I had an horrific accident which left me with a left brachial plexus injury.
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