New Boston teen works to spread awareness of chronic pain
Although chronic pain is part of her everyday life, Alyssa McGraw, 15, of New Boston, is determined not to let it slow her down. (Nancy Bean Foster Photo)
Doctors examined Alyssa, ordered x-rays and MRIs, but couldn’t find anything wrong. She was sent to physical therapy, but by that point, the pain had spread from her ankle to her foot and up her leg.
After three months, she was sent to an orthopedist who tried to evaluate Alyssa, but based on her symptoms, believed she was suffering from Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, said McGraw. CRPS is a condition that occurs after an injury where the nerves continue to send pain signals to the brain despite the fact that there is nothing physically wrong. Alyssa was immediately sent to Boston Children’s Hospital, which operates a pediatric pain clinic in Waltham, Mass. But before she could be admitted to the clinic, she had to endure a month of physical therapy in order to satisfy insurance requirements.
Alyssa left the clinic with the pain fairly well in check, and though she has had pain flares, each one has made her a little bit stronger. She is back playing lacrosse and is cheerleading, which is her passion. But she’s also reaching out to others with CRPS, and talking to her peers at other high schools about overcoming struggles that seem insurmountable.
Alyssa has connected with other people in New Hampshire with chronic pain and has organized a support group that meets at the Nashua Public Library the first and third Thursdays of each month at 7:30 p.m.
“I can’t roll into a ball and give up,” she said. “I want to help people. A lot of kids don’t have their own voice to stand up for themselves. I want to be that voice for them.”
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