CRPS & the Snowball Effect: Sleep

Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

When you pull a rubber band to its furthest point, what happens? It breaks. But what if our bodies are that rubber band and our pain is constantly pulling our bodies needs and our lives we try to live in, in two different directions. Eventually something will give.

And at first, it’s painfully obvious to our friends and families that live with us. Our ability to sleep is going, going, gone! But what we don’t always see, is the full impact our sleep really has on us in our every day lives before having RSD/CRPS.

On, they highlight what a lack of sleep can cause. And it isn’t a short list. As a matter of fact, a number of things we frequently refer in chat to as being part of the CRPS itself, but not only can some of the issues be blamed on the medicines we take, but many can be blamed often directly on the sleep we aren’t getting.

Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is a critical part of our bodies healing process. It helps it regulate our metabolism, helps our brain recover from all that we put it through during the day, helps our body stay stronger, and fight against the worlds many colds, flu, and viruses out there.

So if you haven’t discussed your sleeping issues with your doctor, maybe put this on your list. Because while the avalanche might start with someone yelling called CRPS in the mountains, much of the snow, is that sleep we aren’t getting.

CRPS and the Snowball Effect: Depression

Pixabay Public Domain

After discussion with a life long migraine sufferer, my step mom, about the snowball effect with eyes; she not only could agree, but also pointed out the direct correlation of the “Snowball effect” and depression.

  • : a state of feeling sad

  • : a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way

  • : a period of time in which there is little economic activity and many people do not have jobs


Depression under the second definition is a significant issue for many chronic pain patients. And can be caused by a multitude of factors we all have in our lives varying from medication side effects, to sleep deprivation, pain itself, or even a combination such as sleep deprivation caused as a medication side effect.

While yes, medicine can be a huge help for us, depression is often something many don’t want to discuss, admit, or treat. We hesitate talking about it because we dread the doctors will force yet another pill on us, it’s just ONE MORE PILL none of us want to take in the first place and we’ll be less human with it. So we don’t treat it. We don’t talk about the things that make us sad. Which that silence in turn makes us feel more hopeless. All the while adding to that alienation feeling we already have dealing with our pain and inability to easily socialize.

In early 2000’s, research started investigating the ties between pain and emotions. This led to a publication in 2010 that found in fact “Negative Emotions Increase Pain.” With that thought in mind, our medical professionals are only now starting to recognize our depression adds to our pain. Which again can add to problem of feeling isolated. This depression increased pain can also add to our problems sleeping, even need more medicine, which again could add to more problems sleeping. All the while decreasing our mood…

As you can see this snowball slides down the mountainside picking up speed, sometimes even risking becoming a full-fledged avalanche. But we can slow this down, we all have tools available that can help.

  1. Seek medical help:
    1. if you think it can be managed without medicines, seek out a psychologist.
    2. if you think you may need medicine, find a psychiatrist.
    3. better yet, seek an office who has BOTH. This offers you the help finding which (medicine or no medicine) is better for your situation and promotes options where you come off when you’re feeling more you and the doctors think it’s safe to come off together.
  2. Talk with friends about things, we all know that sometimes someone who understands, we feel better
    1. Remember to listen to those friends, if they think you need to see professional help, then they care enough to urge you to take care of you
    2. Remember good friends LISTEN back, so don’t neglect your friendships because you feel miserable. Sometimes just listening to them can help you feel like you’ve accomplished something so don’t forget this important part of being a friend.
  3. Make a private blog to just vent both the good and the bad.
    1. US Pain just the other day shared a great reminder on this:
  4. And if you are at the edge, if you only see the blackness of the negative emotions around you, PLEASE call the suicide hotline.
    1. NOTE: We previously wrote about calling Suicide Prevention to help remind people to make sure to clarify things so there isn’t a miscommunication. Because if we need to call, we NEED to talk to someone. And just having that person to listen, to talk with about everything going on to get us through until we can get to our doctor. Sometimes that is the one grounding we need.

So no matter what you choose, or how many of these ideas you choose, DON’T try to do it alone if you have harmful thoughts about yourself or others. You are not alone and don’t have to be. Depression can and WILL snowball, but we can try to keep it from becoming an avalanche.

CRPS and the Snowball Effect

With CRPS there are so many systems that can be effected and so many ways it can manifest uniquely for each patient. Making identification and treatment plans to be difficult to identify.

According to Wikipedia the snowball effect is:

a process that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger (graver, more serious), and also perhaps potentially dangerous or disastrous (a vicious circle, a “spiral of decline”), though it might be beneficial instead (a virtuous circle). This is a very common cliché in cartoons and modern theatrics and it is also used in psychology.

One system that can be affected that has been asked about recently is the optical. The eyes can be affected in varied ways. Everything from just blurry vision, to reports of early onset of cataracts, right down to needing 20% or less full wrap sun glasses to address severe light sensitivity.

The reason I mention the snowball effect is that while we might not want to accept or acknowledge our decreased vision. We are putting ourselves at risk and not even realizing it. If we have decreased vision, we might purchase or prepare food that is moldy. We might wash dishes and not see the food remains that have not come off the dishes.

Life is full of different challenges and we must find ways to overcome. Even if we don’t know we are dealing with them yet. So consider this a little reminder

  1. Make sure you have REALLY good lighting when washing and inspecting dishes both. Suds (invisible to us but other family can see) can hide debris when rinsing is completed as far as we can see.
  2. Soak your dishes before washing to help get off anything that might be dried on, off easier.
  3. Consider keeping a magnifying glass by the kitchen sink.
  4. If you have glass dishes, consider switching to plastic.
    1. Many get shaky hands and makes easier to drop.
    2. Many have difficulties identifying where their hands are and might grip too tightly.

And lastly you might want to consider doing this for yourself, because if we eat bad food, on dirty dishes, we increase our risk of getting sick.

And for those who have heard rumors, soon we’ll be launching our recipe site. Things you submit to us that you have found making is easier for you, or that can be bulk prepared and made for those REALLY bad days where even microwaving is the bare minimum you can do.