Category Archives: Inflammation

The Wandering Nerve And CRPS

Source of Featured Image of the vagus nerve (‘the wandering nerve’).

Dear Pain Matters blog readers,

As mentioned in earlier posts, Dr Katinka van der Merwe (aka Dr Katinka), a Doctor of Chiropractic at The Neurologic Relief Center, Arkansas, USA, specializes in chronic pain including CRPS.  Dr Katinka’s unique and non-invasive approach focuses on rebalancing the autonomic nervous system, with particular emphasis on the vagus nerve (‘the wandering nerve’).


Source of photo of Dr Katinka:

Dr Katinka has expertise in various non-invasive treatments including:

  • Upper Cervical Procedure (to stimulate the vagus nerve); and
  • Frequency Specific Microcurrent. 

These (and other) treatments may be beneficial for neuropathic pain and injury to the spinal cord and other painful conditions.

This blog post discusses Jennifer, a CRPS patient who suffered pain levels up to ‘10’ on a daily basis for many years until she finally attended The Neurologic Relief Center (headed by Dr Katinka).  Happily, Jennifer obtained complete pain relief following non-invasive treatments for 5 weeks at this Center.

Jennifer’s CRPS 

Jennifer’s CRPS in her right foot occurred after a stress fracture to the top of her right foot in 2007/2008.  Her CRPS spread to her right arm, wrist and hand.  Jennifer also had spinal surgery 2 years ago that involved metal implants including a metal cage, plates and screws.

Jennifer suffered shooting and excruciating pain levels up to ‘10’, 24/7, as well as severe migraines.  Her pain made it difficult to do anything including walking, working and concentrating/focusing.  Her sleep was constantly interrupted by pain and she was unable to sleep with covers due to hypersensitivity.  Jennifer had difficulty wearing shoes in the daytime.  Needless to say, a life with severe and constant pain was very  debilitating for Jennifer.

Because pain is ‘invisible’, people who had no pain could not understand her (with the exception of her supportive husband).  It was hard for Jennifer to hear people tell her, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you’, when in fact she was in such agony and pain.

Jennifer tried various pain medications including Lyrica (at maximum dosages), morphine and Cymbalta.  Jennifer said that while these drugs made her think that her pain was better, they did not enable her to do anything or function properly.  Sadly, her pain never went away no matter how high the dosages were.

Dr Katinka’s Non-Invasive Treatment For Jennifer’s CRPS 

Dr Katinka does not treat CRPS directly.  In her words (quoting from both Youtubes, below):

‘The difference between how we treat RSD [CRPS], or the neurologic symptoms of RSD [CRPS], is that we do not treat pain.  We do not numb the pain.  We do not interrupt the pain signal.  We do not attack the pain signal.  We don’t try to interrupt the nerve signal … that is not what’s causing the RSD [CRPS].  The RSD [CRPS] is caused by a malfunction in the central nervous system.

We treat the central nervous system injury.  And unless you treat that, you will never, ever permanently get the RSD [CRPS] under control, in my opinion.’

Dr Katinka added that many patients have injuries in their upper cervical region or tailbone area. These types of injuries may affect the vagus nerve.  If left untreated, these injuries can affect the central nervous system, and in particular, the parasympathetic nervous system including the vagus nerve.  Ultimately, this may trigger CRPS.

As stated above, Dr Katinka’s team offered non-invasive treatment for Jennifer’s CRPS that includes a combination of:

  1. An upper cervical procedure – This involves gentle hands-on treatment of the very upper cervical region to release, stimulate and activate the vagus nerve.  This gentle treatment removes any pressure on the vagus nerve, hence instantly restoring vagus nerve function and reducing pro-inflammatories.  When this occurs, there can be an immediate decrease in pain.  This procedure is frequently repeated during the 10-week treatment period; and
  2. Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) – This is done to treat:
    • Inflammation of the spinal cord including nerves and abnormal scar tissue (from Jennifer’s spinal fusion surgery 2 years ago);
    • Allergic reactions and toxicity – Jennifer’s back surgery involved metal implants in her spine including a metal cage, plates and screws.  These metal implants are at risk of releasing toxins that may trigger metal allergies; and
    • Stenosis (ie narrowing of the spinal canal).

Jennifer shared details of her 3rd week at the Center in the YouTube dated 26 July 2015 (see below). At this time, her CRPS-affected right foot was still swollen, compared to her unaffected foot.  Furthermore, her pain levels were at ‘8’ before beginning FSM.

Jennifer confirmed that her pain vanished during FSM treatment. Instead, she had a ‘hot/warm feeling of water on the foot, with no pain. Quoting Jennifer:

‘It feels funny … It just feels funny. I’ve been having pain for so long … You have to stop and think, ‘Look, there’s nothing [ie no pain] there.”

Pleased with Jennifer’s progress thus far, Dr Katinka stated:

We don’t have tissues here, do we? I must have made you cry [with happiness] … Oh, we do [have tissues].’

Jennifer added, ‘…It’s amazing … from one day to the next … how it feels…

After FSM treatment, Jennifer practiced walking slowly down a hallway under Dr Katinka’s caring supervision. Dr Katinka stated (quoting):

…You’re done with your treatment … And you are walking on your foot. Can you normally walk on it?

Jennifer answered, ‘Not very well. No. It really hurts … Yeah, this is really different…’

When Dr Katinka asked about her pain levels while walking down the hallway, Jennifer literally sang out, ‘A ‘2’!’

After 5 weeks of treatment, Jennifer’s right foot was still swollen and slightly sensitive. The good news was that Jennifer’s pain levels were now down to ZERO (ZILCH!) for the past 2 days! Wow!  What fun!  She was also able to sleep throughout the night now, something that she had not enjoyed for years. Woohoo!

Other CRPS Patients Successfully Treated By Dr Katinka

For dozens of other CRPS success stories, please follow the links in:



Dr Katinka’s non-invasive combination treatment that focuses on rebalancing the autonomic nervous system including vagus nerve may offer pain relief and improved function for some chronic pain patients including CRPS patients.

For more on Dr Katinka’s unique insights into CRPS, please click her following guest blog post on the RSDSA website:

Putting Out the Fire: A Brand New Approach to Treating RSD/CRPS (12 April 2016)

Thanks to Dr Katinka and her team, Jennifer is finally able to enjoy her life without painful CRPS!

Sabina Walker

Blogger, Pain Matters (in WordPress)


Jennifer’s CRPS Story – 2 YouTubes by Dr Katinka van der Merwe

(1A) Jennifer’s CRPS Story (26 July 2015) (6-minute YouTube)

(1B) Jennifer’s CRPS Story (continued on 10 August 2015) (8-minute YouTube)

Frequency Specific Microcurrent for Pain 

(2A) McMakin, Carolyn. Frequency Specific Microcurrent in Pain Management (3 December 2010); Pages 1-256.

eBook ISBN: 9780702049255
Paperback ISBN: 9780443069765

(2B) McMakin, Carolyn. Nonpharmacologic Treatment of Neuropathic Pain Using Frequency Specific Microcurrent. The Pain Practitioner (2010); 20(3); 68-73.

(2C) Thomas, Brooke. Carolyn McMakin: The Resonance of Repair (A 68 Minute-Podcast Interview with Carolyn McMakin). Liberated Body (23 December 2014); LBP 030.
(2D) Treating RSD/CRPS With Frequency Specific Microcurrent (a 75-minute YouTube done 18 September 2014 by Dr Carolyn McMakin)
(2E) Other YouTubes By Dr Carolyn McMakin








Is There a Link Between Prolonged Psychological Stress And Physical Pain?

Featured Image of the ocean near the beach in the sun taken by myself. 

Dear Pain Matters blog readers,

Prolonged psychological stress can perpetuate chronic pain in some patients, while other people may be prone to chronic inflammatory diseases including cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, depression, autoimmune diseases, upper respiratory infections and poor wound healing ability.

Immune cells are normally very sensitive to circulating stress hormones (glucocorticoids including cortisol), and as such, are usually able to shut down the pro-inflammatory response in the presence of glucocorticoids.

Chronic psychological stress can reduce the circulating stress hormone’s ability to interact with its receptor leading to glucocorticoid receptor resistance (GCR).

Repeated and ongoing exposure to a long-term threatening (real or imagined) and stressful experience can lead to insufficient glucocorticoid regulation (i.e. GCR), that in turn can lead to:

  • Insufficient control over the inflammatory response towards an infection;
  • Increased duration and/or intensity of the pro-inflammatory response; and
  • Increased pain levels and other signs and symptoms of chronic diseases.  

Studies have shown that some chronic stress sufferers (e.g. parents of children with cancer, spouses of patients with brain cancer and lonely people) present with GCR (Cohen et al, 2012).

Other Biomechanisms that Influence the Pro-Inflammatory Response and its Key Role in Maintaining Chronic Pain and Inflammation-Based Diseases:

See this Blog Post for more information:

What Can Done To Reduce Prolonged Psychological Stress?:

Steps must urgently be taken to reduce repeated and ongoing exposure to a prolonged threatening (real or imagined) and stressful experience.

This brings us to all those therapies that may induce the ‘relaxation response’ and/or lead one to a calmer disposition including:


Any therapy that can induce the ‘relaxation response’ is key to diverting attention away from repeated and ongoing psychological stress.

This will strengthen the immune cells’ ability to interact with circulating stress hormones (glucocorticoids including cortisol) and shut down an exaggerated pro-inflammatory response.

Conventional pharmacological treatment also plays an important role in reducing excessive inflammation.  The effectiveness of pharmacological drugs may be further enhanced by the body’s ‘relaxation response’, leading to lower drug dosages and fewer adverse effects.

The body’s innate ability to properly control a pro-inflammatory response is key to warding off chronic pain and disease.

Sabina Walker

“Sedare dolorem divinum opus est”
“It is divine to alleviate pain”

Galen, 130-200 C.E.



(1) Study Finds Link Between Stress And Physical Pain

Huffington Post (03 April 2012)


(2) Clynes, Manfred

Sentics: The Touch of Emotions

250 pp, Doubleday/Anchor, New York, 1977 – Chapter 9 only

Peer-Reviewed Paper

(3) Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, et al.

Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2012;109(16):5995-5999.