The Wandering Nerve (The Vagus Nerve) & CRPS – Treatments and Results


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

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.

On the Road to Recovery from CRPS

Frequency Specific Microcurrent and Other Non-Invasive Treatments by Dr. Katinka

About Dr. Katinka van der Merwe: Chronic Pain & CRPS Specialist

CRPS Treatment Dr Katinka

As mentioned in earlier posts, Dr Katinka van der Merwe (aka Dr Katinka), a Doctor of Chiropractic at The Neurologic Relief Center (also known as The Spero Clinic) in 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’).

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.

Jennifer’s CRPS Story (Patient Highlight)

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.

Pain Level = Up to 10 (24/7)

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.

CRPS Treatments -The Spero Clinic

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 14-week treatment period.

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 After 3 Weeks of Treatment

Pain Level = 2

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’!”

Jennifer After 5 Weeks of Treatment

Pain Level = ZERO

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!

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

Other CRPS Patients Successfully Treated By Dr. Katinka

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

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


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

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CRPS treatment clinic patient Bria with dr.katinka