What to Expect At Our Clinic: From Testing for CRPS to Our Unique Patient Treatment

Exposing The Makings Of A Monster: Testing

the spero clinic crps patient testing

When a patient enters our clinic, our first task is to examine the Central Nervous System thoroughly. While the average patient suffering from CRPS has often seen Neurologists before, and have undergone countless tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, and nerve conduction tests, our tests (and how they are interpreted) are all designed to detect one thing: nerve interference, affecting the body on a global scale, allowing it to malfunction and often causing excruciating unrelenting daily pain. None of our tests are painful or invasive. I strongly feel that it is important to always remember when it comes to patients suffering from CRPS to first, to first do no harm.

We do not do a single test that will not also help us to treat you. One of my pet peeves is inappropriate, expensive, and unnecessary diagnostic testing. A test should be taken for one reason only: in order to understand the patient’s body better, so that you can treat them in the most effective way possible, or refer them somewhere else.

Surface Electromyography exam (SEMG)

The Central Nervous System consists of the brain and spinal cord. Think of the spinal cord as the highway that connects the brain to the body. If the exists off of this highway are blocked, that will lead to cars piling up and not getting to go to their destination. Nerve signals coming from and to the brain can be blocked in the same way, affecting how well the body is able to function and heal. The EMG scan is a reliable method49,50,51 to measure changes in the electrical activity of paraspinal muscles. Changes in paraspinal muscle function are seen in vertebral subluxation (or abnormalities). Taken in concert with other examination findings, EMG scans are useful in detecting and characterizing the muscular dysfunction seen in vertebral abnormalities affecting the Central Nervous System.

This test is done by wetting the skin of your back with alcohol and then lightly placing electrodes on each side of the spine at each vertebral level. In a good candidate for treatment, we expect to see abnormalities especially in the upper cervical and lower lumbar spine.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) exam

HRV is the variation in the length of time between one heartbeat and the next. Most people think that ideally, this space should be exactly the same every time but in fact, the opposite is true. You want it to constantly change. We generally think of a number between 60 and 90 when we think of our heart rate. Your heart rate changes all the time. For example, when you inhale your heart rate speeds up and when you exhale it slows down. So the heart rate will actually vary between, say, 70 and 80. HRV is a measure of this naturally occurring differences in your heart rate. Heart Rate Variability is a great indicator of Vagus Nerve function52.

HRV is almost like a crystal ball that allows us to gain isnight into the health of the nervous system. It has been shown that people who suffer from CRPS have an increased heart rate and decreased Heart Rate Variability. These findings were consistent with a general autonomic imbalance in those patients53. In fact, the activity of the Vagus Nerve as measured by HRV has been shown by studies to reveal all sorts of crucial data. For example, it has been shown, after studying patients suffering from late state cancer, that patients with higher Vagus Nerve activity has substantially lower levels of tumor markers in their systems when compared to patients with lower Vagus Nerve activity54. In addition, HRV allows us to determine how much functional reserve the patient has. Functional reserve could be likened to a “savings account” in your body. It’s what your body has in reserve to help in times of need from illness, injury and stress. HRV can also give us information regarding the nerve communication to the neurohormonal system, the immune system, the digestive system, the cardiac system, longevity, and can even predict whether someone is a good athlete.

HRV is non- invasive and does not hurt. It does not involve needles or any other invasive procedures.

Full Spine X-rays

When indicated, we will take a full spine x-ray series of your spine. When we study your x- rays, we are very interested in the health of your spine as this directly relates to the health of your Central Nervous System. An unhealthy spine points to poor nerve communication in the body. In addition to degeneration, arthritis and pathologies, we also check for form and function. We are especially interested in the upper cervical spine as well as the lower lumbar spine.

Meta- Oxy Inflammation Test

This test is a simple urine test that measures inflammation in the body by showing us how much cell membrane damage is occurring in your body by free radicals. The outer protective shell that holds the cell together is critical. It’s literally where all communication takes place. The membrane basically functions as the brain of the cell. It is vital in communication, as signals from our nervous system, immune system, endocrine system, and other systems in the body attach to this membrane and tell the cells what to do. Failure to do so may cause damaged DNA, poor hormone regulation, accelerated aging, poor healing, heart problems, increased toxicity, and many other unwanted things or conditions.

Heavy Metal Urine Test

We utilize a urine test to test for heavy metal toxicity, as the hair analysis test is known to show unreliable results and poor reference ranges55. The urine test shows what metals are currently circulating in the body and being excreted by the kidney. It is a good indicator of chronic heavy metal exposure.

After we complete our tests, we proceed with treatment. Our hope is that every patient will leave treatment and return to life, as opposed to merely surviving.

The Four Punch System

the spero clinic patient testing CRPS

Often, I am asked why there are not more doctors that do what we do. The answer is that we do not just use one specific therapy or approach. Our treatment is composed of a system that I have developed over many years, based on different treatment modalities and many years of experience. Think of it as a cookie recipe, where you add different ingredients together. If you isolate only one ingredient, you may get some results, but probably not optimum results. The chocolate chips are good but they do not quite taste the same as the whole cookie.

The trickiest part of our treatment is figuring out what each patient needs. In my experience, every single patient is different and must be approached differently. Treating the nervous system of someone who suffers from CRPS is agonizingly tricky sometimes. In some cases one treatment works better than others, and sometimes you have to combine more than one treatment at the same time, rather than splitting them up. Some patients respond within a minute each time, and others take longer. Nevertheless, I have a system that can be tweaked to fit each patient’s needs. I have lovingly dubbed our approach as “The Three Punch System”, as in, three punches and you are out. Recently, we had to revise it as the “Four Punch System”, as we added a new treatment.

Typically, we recommend that the patient comes for a “testing period” of 1-2 weeks. During this time period we perform tests and start treating the patient with our system if appropriate. In order to continue care we must see dramatic results during this initial testing period, or we do not proceed with care. Our treatment program lasts ten weeks on average (although it could be shorter) and typically, we recommend some follow up care with a local doctor near the patient that we work with, or homecare, depending on every unique case. Most of our patients travel long distances to come to us, so we have to tailor their maintenance care depending upon their locations. While many of our patients who report full remission have not followed through with this maintenance care, I still get nervous when a patient decides to “fly solo” after care. It is my job to make sure that we do everything in our power to make sure that your results are stable long- term. My local patients usually remain under my care for some maintenance.

1) First Punch: Waking Up The Vagus Nerve

As discussed in chapter 6, the Vagus Nerve runs anterior to the highest cervical vertebra, called the Atlas inside a structure called the carotid sheath. When the Atlas is misplaced, or misaligned, it can put pressure on the Vagus Nerve by pulling on it, or pushing on it. More doctors are discovering that if you can wake up the Vagus Nerve, amazing things start to happen in the body, and inflammation is sometimes instantly switched off, resulting in a dramatic decrease in pain. The methods of doing this vary, Early research shows that is possible to implant a device (much like a pacemaker) that mechanically is stimulated with a magnet by the patient a few times a day that will “reboot” the Vagus Nerve. Other doctors use surgery where sometimes part of the vertebra is removed, or a balloon placed in the jugular vein and inflated, in order to put pressure on the Vagus Nerve. As with everything I do, I believe that if something can be done without creating more trauma to the body, this is vastly preferable.

The technique that I use to accomplish this was first developed to treat Fibromyalgia. Over time, it became apparent that people who suffer from CRPS also responded to it very well. Before a patient enters treatment with this upper cervical technique, the patient is tested first to see if they are a good candidate for treatment. This test consists of gentle pressure applied in specific combinations to the upper cervical spine. If the patient has the neurological symptoms associated with some cases of CRPS caused by cervical trauma or stenosis, their pain will most often notably and dramatically decrease (although temporarily) while this pressure is applied. This lets me know that the patient will most likely respond favorably to care. Please note that the patient’s response to this test cannot be predicted by failure to obtain results through previous chiropractic adjustments. In other words, even if chiropractic didn’t work for you in the past, you may still respond to this one specific technique.

The technique is fantastic as the test lets us know immediately if the chance of success is likely. While there are no guarantees and I do not possess a crystal ball, I have two great fears that tend to haunt me and shape the way I screen patients for care. My first fear is that I will treat a patient and ultimately not help them. My second fear is that I can help a patient, but for some reason, do not realize that early and give up too soon. Therefor, we do everything in our power to make sure that these two things do not happen in our clinic. The initial testing period helps to increase our chance of success.

The treatment itself consists of a series of specific adjustments to the upper cervical spine over a certain prescribed period of time. In order to accomplish this, we use a tool that gently moves the Atlas back where it belongs. This tool is a spring-loaded, hand-held mechanical instrument that provides a quick, low-force impulse (sometimes with a torque if needed) at specific points. This procedure has to be repeated very often over a pre- determined treatment period. This is because the ligaments in your upper cervical spine may be used to the old ‘wrong’ position. There may also be scarring in the spine and/or soft tissues. All of these structures have to become used to their new corrected position. Think of braces on your teeth. It won’t work if you only wear it for one day.

The theory is that this tool is highly effective because of two distinct reasons: the first is based on the speed of the device. The instrument is so quick that the body’s muscles are less likely to tense in response, and resist the treatment, as patients are sometimes apt to do, especially if they are in a lot of pain. The lack of muscle resistance may facilitate the treatment effectiveness. The second is that the applied force is localized and specific and does not add any bending movement to the joint.

While ongoing research is still needed, it is also theorized that this treatment decreases meningeal compression. The meninges are three layers that surround the brain and spinal cord and can become trapped, pulled, or compressed after neck or head trauma. This technique causes a massive normalizing shift of the autonomic or automatic nervous system. This often results in the patient feeling almost euphoric and very relaxed during and immediately after the test. I have made a dramatic difference in many patients’ lives using this work as one of my tools, and I highly recommend it if you are suffering from not only CRPS, but any chronic pain condition such as fibromyalgia, migraines, failed surgeries, POTS, and many others.

It is important that you know this this technique does not hurt. It is very gentle and in most cases, may be used even after a patient has suffered from significant neck trauma or even after surgeries and/or spinal cord injuries.

2) Second Punch: Frequency Specific Microcurrent (Fsm)

In order to stimulate and encourage healing of the tissues, we use FSM. There is much to be done in this department if a patient suffers from CRPS. The inflammation needs to be decreased all the way from the spinal cord to the nerves. We must remove scar tissue, and help the body to heal ligaments, muscles, bones, and nerves. In addition, we need to stop the nerves from “leaking” sodium, potassium and calcium. FSM is used to accomplish all this.

What is Microcurrent? It is a very small current (millionths of an ampere), too small to be detected by the sensory nerves. An ampere is a measure of the movement of electrons past a certain point, and it tells us how strong an electric current is, Because the current is so small, it is not painful, even for CRPS patients. It is the same kind of current your body naturally produces in each cell. It is also FDA approved. Microcurrent was first used by doctors in Europe about three decades ago to stimulate acupressure points and stimulating bone repair in fractures that would not heal.

At least one study has shown that microcurrent increased ATP production in rat skin 500%. ATP is the chemical that the body uses for energy in order to perform all its functions, including healing. The current also increased amino acid transport into the cells by 70%, as well as waste product removal56. Obviously, this will greatly encourage repair and healing in tissues.

When we look at cells at a subatomic (smaller than the atom) level, we realize that cells are made up of tiny particles called protons, electrons, and neutrons. These particles continuously move around (vibrate). Every specific tissue has a frequency that is unique to that tissue, like a fingerprint or a signature. FSM utilizes to channels that deliver the current to the body. One addresses a specific tissue by targeting its frequency, and the other neutralizes a specific condition or pathology. Again, the current is too small to be perceived by the patient and does not hurt.

There are no known negative side effects or risks to the patient, although the patient may experience a brief detoxification reaction after initial treatments. We therefor encourage patients to drink a lot of water both prior to and after treatments. Not only does it minimize detoxification, but it also increases the success of the treatment (as you know water is a great conductor of electricity).

FSM is taught by Carolyn McMakin, DC, one of my favorite mentors. She and George Douglas DC developed a system whereby we use specific frequencies clinically, using the FSM device, effective in treating different conditions, including the neurologic dysfunction that often results in CRPS. Doctor McMakin used this system to treat her own son’s nervous system. He suffered from CRPS. As a result, his body healed his CRPS after his Central Nervous System was normalized using FSM. When combined with our two other systems, we find that this treatment is an incredibly effective part of the treatment of the neurologic symptoms of CRPS.

3) Third Punch: Rehabilitating The Nervous System

Lastly, we use a system called Quantum Neurology, developed by Dr. George Gonzalez, DC. This system was designed to rehabilitate every aspect of the Nervous System. Dr. Gonzalez developed this system in order to treat his wife, Lori, after she suffered a spinal cord injury. After seeing countless famous doctors all over the country, Dr. Gonzalez realized that no single system existed that was designed to rehabilitate the nervous system. His work was based upon the premise that if the body suffers from a chronic injury, the brain will eventually start ‘ignoring’ this injury. The reason for this is that the injury will act as an ‘energy vampire’, robbing the rest of the body of energy on a daily basis in order to rush the stolen energy to the sight of the chronic injury, much like a slow ‘energy leak’. As you know, energy cannot be created or destroyed. However, it can be transferred. Now, let’s pretend that we can put a monetary value on energy, and your body is allowed $100 in order to survive every day. Every function will require some money. For example, walking may require $5 per leg, digestion $3, etc. If you have a chronic injury (such as CRPS) the body will start to ignore it, or else the injury will rob all the other functions and body parts of their share of this $100. This will cause the body to function at less than optimum. This is a necessary function, but it does not encourage healing of chronic injuries when we need it.

When you take a painkiller, the body will have to rob its other functions and parts of valuable energy to devote to eliminating the painkiller. As a result, the body stops paying attention to the injury (like a whimpering baby), in order to pay attention to the screaming baby, the toxic chemical that is the painkiller. As a result, you no longer feel the pain, and this brings relief. In much the same way, injuries that are being ignored because they result in “energy leaking” are not being worked on, they are being ignored. When you suffer from CRPS, this is not a good thing, obviously. The monster that is CRPS is being treated by the body as a whimpering baby, instead of a screaming one.

In order to heal ‘glitches’ in the nervous system, we must first ‘show’ the brain (or remind it) that the nervous system is injured, and then assist the brain in healing the injury. We use this system to very gently heal the abnormal sensory nerves (causing you to be in pain when exposed to heat, cold, deep pressure, pain, light pressure, vibration, and circumferential pressure, such as tight clothes). This is not the same as the physical therapy sensory rehabilitation that most CRPS patients are used to, that focuses on continuing to expose the sensory nerves to a specific sensory stimulation, hoping to cause a ‘numbing down’ effect after a while, almost like a callous. Instead, our system consists of the premise that the injury is pointed out to the brain, and then gently assisted in fixing the ‘glitch’, often instantly, although re-injury may quickly happen in the beginning. The nervous system has to build up stamina and strength, at which point the corrections become permanent. In other words, this system “toughens” up your nervous system. It is like giving a soldier armor to wear, and is very important if we send your body out into a world where it could potentially be re- injured.

Re- injury does not just mean physical injuries. Anything that puts stress on the nervous system may re- injure a fragile nervous system. Stress is defined as anything that changes the function of your body, even briefly. For example; eating a banana requires your body to make some changes and function in a certain way in order to digest it and eliminate its waste material. Therefor, even eating a banana is defined as a “stress”. When the nervous system is newly recovered, it is very vulnerable to re- injury. We encourage our patients to be very careful in the beginning phases of healing, even if they feel ready to take on the world. My golden rule is to do only 50% of what you feel you are (newly) capable of in the first 5-6 weeks of treatment. I have had some very enthusiastic patients over the years, and examples of re- injury include (but are not limited to) tilling a giant brand- new vegetable garden, riding a monstrous wooden roller coaster, remodeling a library in two days, and babysitting twin babies overnight. I wish I could make this stuff up! Fortunately, some of our old patients who suffer from CRPS have really put their bodies to the test. We have had patients undergo surgery, involved in car accidents, and even fracture the original CRPS site. So far, none of these patients have reported re-activation or spreading of the CRPS symptoms.

4) Fourth Punch: Increasing Circulation

The Vecttor was developed by Dr. Donald A, Rhodes, a podiatrist. While treating a post- surgical patient who developed CRPS, he discovered that at the time, there were no truly effective treatments available to treat this debilitating, painful condition. After many years of intense research and hard work, the Vecttor was cleared by the FDA as a treatment for chronic, intractable pain in November 2012. This therapy is unique as it constantly monitors the patient’s temperature, and utilizes this feedback to deliver the best treatment.

Vecttor therapy is a form of electrostimulation utilizing the principles of acupuncture, refelexology, physiology, and cellular physiology designed to stimulate the nerves to produce certain vital neuropeptides essential for optional functioning of the body. Neuropeptides are small protein- like molecules used by nerve cells in order to communicate with each other. They are involved in a wide range of nerve function, and are critical to the Central Nervous System’s overall health. The Vecttor is not a TENS unit. The principal difference between a TENS unit and the Vecttor is that TENS uses a 10,000 Hertz frequency and Vecttor uses frequencies between 1 to 80 Hertz. This allows the Vecttor unit to stimulate special nerve cells called C-fiber nerve cells to release nerve chemicals which decrease inflammation, normalize carbohydrate metabolism, and increase circulation at the cellular level throughout the body. This especially affects the Autonomic Nervous System.

Other things

In addition to my “Three Punch” system (BTW, I just realize that the acronym for that is TP…which makes sense if you think about cleaning up a mess), we do additional things to encourage healing. These include detoxification, treating the body to allergies to things like the patient’s own blood, breaking up of scar tissue, and supplementation. As stated previously, our system works best when all components mentioned above are used together. There are no side effects to our treatment. Unfortunately, at this time, we are the only clinic in the US to apply the ‘three punch’ system. That means that you have to travel to Arkansas for ten weeks in order to get treated in our clinic.

As with anything, there are pros and cons to our system. While our success rate is high, we cannot help everybody. Our treatment is not covered by insurance and you have to travel all the way to Arkansas to try it. The pros are obvious: no side effects, a high success rate, making the body healthier overall, and the ability to reasonably be able to predict if the treatment will work for you early on.

Contact The Spero Clinic 

The Spero clinic patient testing CRPS

Dr. Katinka has developed a treatment system that proved to work. We’ve treated hundreds of patients suffering from CRPS and helped them enter remission. Contact us today.