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news item News Friday, December 29, 2017 Friday, December 29, 2017 10:10 AM - Friday, December 29, 2017 10:10 AM

Meet Brittany

It’s one of the most painful diseases known to mankind and 16-year-old Brittany is conquering it every day.

“It could sometimes feel as if someone poured gasoline all over my foot, lit it on fire and wrapped barbed wire around it,” describes Brittany. An undiagnosed heel fracture at age 9 left Brittany with a chronic condition that requires daily pain management. “The heel fracture caused me to walk on my toes. I couldn’t put my heel down and this made my ankle stiffen. Eventually I couldn’t walk at all,” says Brittany.

Visiting many doctors and not finding a diagnosis, Brittany’s mom brought her to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville. “The doctors at the Greenville Shriners Hospital finally gave me an answer to what was causing my pain. This changed my life.”

Doctors told Brittany her undiagnosed and untreated heel fracture had caused her to develop a pain syndrome called complex regional pain syndrome/reflex sympathetic dystrophy (CRPS/RSD).

CRPS/RSD is a chronic pain condition most often affecting one limb and usually occurs after an injury or trauma to that limb. CRPS/RSD causes the sympathetic nervous system, which controls your touch and feel nerves, to associate every touch, no matter how light, as pain. Even a slight breeze or soft clothing can set off the affected nerves.

Greenville Shriners Hospital’s doctors immediately began aggressively treating the condition with a series of epidurals to help control the pain, surgery on her ankle, and Botox injections in her muscles. Casting and bracing on her ankle have also played an integral role.

Brittany now continues an intensive physical therapy program, where the strides she sees and the support she feels help make her pain more manageable.

“When I began physical therapy, my goal was to just set my foot on the floor and tolerate it,” said Brittany. “I never dreamed I’d ever walk again. After one week, my therapists had pushed me so far that I was actually taking steps.”

Brittany says her treatment at the Greenville Shriners Hospital has helped her achieve goals she never thought were possible, and without the hospital's assistance would not be walking today.

“They’ve taught me to never give up and to keep pushing myself,” Brittany says. “I know they believe in me; they see potential in me that I never saw in myself. That has made all the difference.”