Informational session on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome 

Press Release

St. Joseph's Mercy Health Center

Information session on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Who: Mission Pain Medicine Consultants ketamine treatment patient.

What: An out-of-town female patient, who for the last 12 years has suffered tremendously from an often very resistant pain disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) – it is also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) – wishes to tell her story of a journey to virtual pain relief through Dr. Ron Harbut’s ketamine treatment program.

When: By appointment through St. Joseph’s Publication Specialist Rod Gardner at any of the above-listed phone numbers, starting Saturday morning (Jan. 13) until noon on Tuesday (Jan. 15).

Where: St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center (300 Werner Street) in Hot Springs.

Why: To educate the public on the complexities and debilitating nature of CRPS, as well as the relief that can possibly be gained from the relatively new keatmine treatment technique that Dr. Harbut introduced to the United States

Note: A longstanding commitment to pain control by St. Joseph’s culminated with the July of 2006 opening of the Mission Pain Medicine Consultants clinic. The Mission Clinical Services facility, which is conveniently located next to St. Joseph’s in Suite 106 of the Medical Office Building, features neuropathic pain treatment under the medical direction of Ronald E. Harbut, M.D., PhD.

Dr. Harbut, who is board certified in both anesthesiology and pain medicine, came to St. Joseph’s from Hershey, Pennsylvania where he served the Penn State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center as an Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and as Director of the Neuropathic Pain Treatment Program. He secured his fellowship training in pain medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, after earning a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy from the University of Arizona, medical degree from the University of Health Sciences-Chicago Medical School and doctorate degree in pharmacology from the University of Utah.

Dr. Harbut and the staff of the Mission Pain Medicine Consultants clinic take referrals and see patients who need a consultation for chronic pain. He and the clinic staff also utilize St. Joseph’s Outpatient Services Department for procedures, take inpatient consults and manage an in-house treatment program Dr. Harbut developed for patients with a very resistant pain disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). He started producing the neuropathic pain treatment technique in 2001 while at the Mayo Clinic, working closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in obtaining an approved protocol. Promising initial results enjoyed by Dr. Harbut helped guide the direction of his work, and it has continued since then regarding the application in the treatment of CRPS and other central-sensitization disorders.

The first peer-reviewed article written in the United States on the use of the technique – with RSD or CRPS – was authored by Dr. Harbut and appeared as a case report in the June of 2002 Pain Medicine, the journal for the American Academy of Pain Medicine. A follow-up paper by Dr. Harbut appeared in the September of 2004 Pain Medicine. The technique employs a low-dose, sub-anesthetic continuous infusion of ketamine, which means the patients remain conscious and are able to interact with the clinic staff. Dr. Harbut is enjoying some quality results with the technique, and during his time at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, it helped over 50 percent of the CRPS or RSD patients he treated. Given the number of patients affected by the disease, and the severity of the pain it inflicts, that is extremely significant.

Understanding CRPS

CRPS is a disease that affects nerves that can cause intolerable pain and suffering. The sympathetic nervous system becomes involved to the point that it lapses out of control, and depending on the individual, one or both extremities can be affected. The severe extremity pain – burning, tenderness or both – may develop suddenly and does not follow a particular distribution pattern. It can also be a multi-system syndrome, affecting nerves, skin, muscles, blood vessels and bones. The most common predisposing factor for CRPS is some sort of trauma to bone, soft tissue or nerve, and it can be a result of a minor surgery, accidental injury or a more traumatic event such as a spinal cord injury, mastectomy or stroke. Lastly, the disease’s onset may be rapid or delayed for a month or longer.

Symptoms of CRPS

Most patients describe the pain of CRPS as a deep and diffuse burning that is accompanied by swelling. It may also be described as throbbing, pressing or shooting pain that is bothered by movement, mild stimulation and emotional stress. Immobilization or elevation relieves the pain, but contribute to a worsening of the problem over time. Besides pain, symptoms in the affected areas of CRPS may include the following:

· Edema (tissue fluid buildup)

· Decreased motor ability

· Muscle weakness that leads to muscle dystrophy or atrophy

· Muscle spasms

· Skin changes, such as scaling and increased hair growth and hair loss

· Nail changes

· Skin temperature changes

· Increased or decreased sweating

· Joint tenderness, stiffness and swelling

· Bone changes along with patchy osteoporosis

Mission Pain Medicine Consultants clinic staff

In addition to Dr. Harbut, the clinic’s highly-qualified staff is currently made up of a clinical supervisor with a bachelor of science degree in nursing, a clinic nurse who is a certified LPN II, an office manager and a clinic receptionist. The staff devotes at least one-third of its time to the non-research-related CRPS treatment program and Dr. Harbut’s new CRPS protocol research study that was recently approved by the FDA. The healthcare professionals’ remaining time is spent on physician-referred patients – both inpatient and outpatient – who are suffering from chronic pain.

For further information about the Mission Pain Medicine Consultants clinic and the services offered, please call (501) 622-4878. The clinic’s fax number is (501) 622-4879 and pain-related questions may also be e-mailed to sphillips@htsp.mercy.net.


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