Stories about: Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Center (PPRC)

Getting her life back: Amelia overcomes chronic pain

complex regional pain syndrome

The pain seemed to come from nowhere. Although fifth-grader Amelia Watt had sprained her ankle playing soccer a few weeks earlier, the injury had seemed inconsequential. Yet now, she couldn’t put any weight on her foot without crying. Soon, the burning pain crept up her leg and her foot began to turn purple. Even taking a shower had become excruciating. At age 11, this vibrant, active girl was relegated to crutches, afraid to walk.

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For chronic illness, sometimes happiness is the best medicine

Minwa

When her daughter Minwa Alhamad was just a baby, Dalal Alrefaei noticed something: One of Minwa’s legs wouldn’t bend. The little girl didn’t cry or seem to be in pain, but her knee was hot and swollen. After taking her to a hospital near their home in Kuwait City, doctors told Dalal that Minwa may have had the flu and prescribed ibuprofen.

Symptoms improved slightly over the next few days but when Minwa began to walk, Dalal noticed that her heel didn’t touch the floor. This time, her doctors said it might be something muscular, but didn’t have an answer. Dalal took Minwa to Germany for another diagnosis, but to no avail. After six years of testing, imaging and intense physical therapy, Minwa’s knee was still troublesome, and the doctors in Germany said they had never seen anything like it.

In 2007, Dalal took Minwa to the doctors for stomach problems and vomiting, and her physician immediately noticed the difference between both her knees, ultimately resulting in a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. After three months of fruitless treatment, her doctor sampled the liquid from the swollen knee and referred them to Boston Children’s Hospital.

Finally in Boston, Lyle Micheli, MD, and Samantha Spencer, MD, diagnosed Minwa with an extremely rare vascular malformation that prohibited her knee from working properly. It also caused her extreme pain, all day and night, prohibiting her from playing with friends, walking or going to school.

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