The roll of the genetic dice- Is CRPS hereditary?
While a familial occurrence in the development of CRPS has not been extensively studied, at least one study suggests that such a link is present. Through my years of treating this disease, I have treated and/or been in touch with multiple families struck more than once by CRPS. It is interesting to me that in math, angles are said to coincide if they are congruent, meaning; their corresponding angles, sides and occupied areas are exactly equal. The word ‘coincidence’ therefore often hints at something that is exactly the opposite of ‘accidentally’ or ‘by random chance’.
Further, it has been theorized that between 5 and 8 million people worldwide suffer from CRPS. Considering all the people who do not have access to superior medical care, the relative failure of such superior medical care when it comes to the accurate and timely diagnoses of CRPS, and all the people in underdeveloped and underprivileged areas who may never have been to a doctor, clinic or hospital, never mind diagnosed, it stands to reason that that number may be much, much higher. Despite that fact, if you consider that the world population has now exceeded 7 billion people, it seems like too much of of a coincidence that CRPS will strike the same family more than once.
Dr. Donald A. Rhodes D.P.M., who designed one of the treatment systems I use in my clinic, called the Vecttor, introduced me to the following information:
The Autonomic Nervous System and various neuropeptides control the circulation in the body. Neuropeptides are small protein- like molecules used by nerve cells in order to communicate with each other. VIP (Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide) is a chemical found in the human body that increases the blood flow to the intestines. The flow of blood to the skin, nerves, bones and small muscles is increased by yet another peptide, called CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide). As they say, what goes up, must come down, and as the body always seeks balance, this increased blood flow is, in turn, decreased by substance P, elsewhere referred to in this book. Substance P causes specialized cells called mast cells to release an enzyme that destroys CGRP. In healthy individuals, there is a balance between norepinephrine and substance P, that decrease blood flow to various tissues and organs, while CGRP and VIP increase the blood flow in return. Norepinephrine is an organic chemical that functions in the human brain and body as a hormone and a neurotransmitter, or messenger. It is released by the Central Nervous System. Norepinephrine is destroyed on a system- wide basis by Catechol-O-Methyl Transferase (COMT).
The amount of COMT produced by the body is determined by an individual’s genetic makeup. Dr. Jan Zubieta performed groundbreaking research o the action of COMT genes. A variation in genetics determines how individuals respond to pain. It also determines how long norepinephrine produced by the sympathetic nervous system last in the body. When he studied those complaining of severe pain, he found that most of these individuals fall within a 25 percent segment of the population that have a specific combination of COMT genes. In these patients, norepinephrine remains active in the body for much longer periods of time.
It has been found that the bulk of fibromyalgia and CRPS patients (as well as other forms of chronic pain) are patients with abnormally low levels of COMT. This increased duration of the action of norepinephrine causes decreased circulation in the skin, GI tract, nerves, bones, and small muscles. In turn, this causes ischemia. Ischemia is decreased circulation causing decreased available oxygen in tissues. Many of these diseases affect women more than men, as men tend to have higher blood pressure as a rule of thumb. In addition, men generally have more muscle mass and therefore more myoglobin, which “holds” oxygen in the muscles. These patients may also suffer from related conditions such as Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition marked by cold hands and feet, as well as POTS.
In addition, there is a fairly high rate of comorbidity present between CRPS and fibromyalgia, as these two conditions often share similar central nervous system dysfunction. The hereditary nature of fibromyalgia has been demonstrated more clearly than in the case of CRPS. Below are some examples of research that backs this genetic hypothesis up.
- The Swedish Twin Registry reports that there is up to a 15 percent higher chance of one twin developing fibromyalgia if the other twin suffers from it.
- Studies suggested that fibromyalgia segregates within families in an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. One of them showed female preponderance and, in addition, postulated the existence of a latent or precursor stage of the disease characterized by abnormal muscle tension.
- Another study was based on data retrieved from questionnaires regarding fibromyalgia symptoms in family members of index patients. According to this study, about two-thirds of the study population reported family clustering.
So what does all this research mean? If you have family members with fibromyalgia or CRPS, there may be a higher chance of you developing the condition(s), or your children one day suffering from the same pain. However, all is not hopeless. The noted scientist Bruce Lipton, PhD, is one of many scientists today proving that we are, in fact, not victims of our genetic material. Dr. Lipton is a well-respected cellular biologist who has done extensive research at Stanford University on the mechanics of genetics and cellular biology.
Most of us were taught that the genetic blueprint we inherited from our parents predetermines our bodies, our personalities, our talents, and even our health. But in the last two decades, Dr. Lipton and other cellular biologists have discovered that, while our genes do not change, the way they are expressed may be very much within our control. In layman’s terms, this means that even though we may have a higher risk of developing certain conditions or diseases because of our biology, we have a lot of power to minimize those risks.
This is good news! Since Dr. Lipton first observed two cells with exactly the same genetic code, in two different petri dishes (different environments), behaving in very different ways, his work has become a foundation for scientific documentation of the mind-body connection. He explains that based on their genetic code, “cells can do a job that contributes to the growth of the organism, its maintenance, and keeping it healthy, or a cell can get into a position of a protection response. Cells need the brain to interpret the world and feed back to them what they should be doing to keep this whole system alive and floating.”
According to Dr. Lipton, the true secret to life does not lie within your DNA, but rather within the mechanisms of your cell membrane. Each cell is surrounded by a membrane with receptors attached to it. Think of them as tiny cell phone towers receiving signals. These receptors pick up signals from their environment, which in turn control how the genes are read inside the cells. In other words, your cells can choose to read or ignore your genetic blueprint depending on the signals they receive from their environment. Simply put, this means that even potentially undesired cell behavior needs a very specific key to unlock it. This key is usually a physical, chemical, or emotional stress. The power to arm your body against this stress lies in your hands!
So, this means that having a “cancer program” or a “CRPS program” in your DNA does not mean you are destined to get cancer or develop CRPS. Isn’t that good news? You control your environment to a large extent. You control your daily thoughts, your surroundings, your exercise habits, and your diet. You do have control over which genes are turned on and turned off. (For more on Dr. Lipton’s work, go to www.brucelipton.com.)
If one or more of these conditions are present within your family, it will certainly be wise to be extra diligent after trauma (such as fractures) or surgery. In addition, it is so very important to eat a clean healthy diet, to supplement wisely, to learn how to respond to stress in a healthy manner, and to make absolutely sure that your central nervous system is in good working order and functioning at its optimal potential. Whiplash injuries must never be simply ignored. Please seek out the opinion of a good chiropractor to examine your central nervous system and spine as a precaution, as well as after any car accident, even if your X-ray doesn’t show obvious trauma. If you contact us on Facebook or by phone, we will be happy to refer you or your family member to a local doctor.
The Spero Clinic
If you or a loved one is suffering from Neurological Dysfunction, nerve pain, complex regional pain syndrome, postural orthostatic tachycardia, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or fibromyalgia there is hope! Contact us. Requesting information is completely free, we’re here to help.