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'The pain is overwhelming': Atkinson man shares his story living with CRPS

Alex Sanchez was diagnosed with CRPS back in September. He's determined to spread awareness of the rare chronic pain condition.

GENESEO, Ill. — Alex Sanchez was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome in September. Also known as CRPS, it’s a chronic pain condition that is caused after a limb has fully recovered from injury, but the pain continues.

“I was explaining to my doctor how I still felt pain after recovering from my sprained ankle,” Sanchez said. “He diagnosed me with CRPS and it was a life-changing diagnosis.”

Around 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with CRPS each year. According to Dr. John Dooley, it’s a condition that’s difficult to live with.

"An example of that is somebody sprains their ankle, but then develops CRPS in their foot, a minor injury, but yet leads to debilitating pain at some point down the road, which might very much restrict their life and disrupt their lifestyle," Dr. Dooley said.

Since September, Sanchez has not been able to do everyday life activities. He says this year he missed out on pumpkin patches and apple picking with his family due to his condition.

“It’s frustrating that this impacts my life,” Sanchez said. "I've had days where I have been in such excruciating pain that I couldn't move and all I could do was just sit in my chair and cry."

Sanchez said he has received multiple treatments but hasn't seen any improvement. Aside from physical challenges, Sanchez says it’s a mental battle.

“CRPS is known as a 'suicide disease.' One night, I told my wife that I wish I could step in front of a train because I was in so much pain,” Sanchez said.  

According to a 2021 study published by The Korean Journal of Pain, nearly 49% of CRPS patients have considered suicide while 15% have attempted it.

“I can’t be a statistic, that’s not who I am,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez says the support from his wife, Abbey, and their two children helps him stay motivated through the pain.

“It’s hard seeing him like this,” Abbey said. “Our son mentions it’s sad that dad cannot participate in family events, and it can be frustrating, but we know the challenge we took on and want to overcome it.”

With his family support, Sanchez says he’s motivated to spread awareness of CRPS.

“Not many know about what we go through. It’s time to spread awareness and hope to find a cure for it someday.”

If you'd like to help the Sanchezes with medical expenses, click/tap here

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