RIVER FALLS -- Back in September we shared the story of Ceciley Maxa, a River Falls woman living with a rare condition that left her in constant, debilitating pain.

RiverTown Multimedia spoke with Maxa from Arkansas, where she was attending a three-month program at a clinic specializing in treating complex regional pain syndrome. She developed the chronic pain disease after sustaining an ankle injury in 2018.

Maxa recently returned home after completing treatment at the Spero Clinic, and we caught up with her for an update on how she’s doing.

Q: How is your pain level now compared to when you started treatment?

A: When I started treatment my pain was at level 10, day in and day out. After the fifth week being there, the pain started to drop significantly and I began to see drastic improvements. By week 10 the pain was gone. I have been pain-free now for almost a month and not having any additional symptoms. I am finally able to walk again properly and am starting to return to most daily activities.

Q: What surprised you most about the Spero Clinic?

A: What surprised me most about the Spero Clinic is how compassionate the staff was. During my stay there the doctors became more like family and treated my condition from the inside out, focusing on what was systemically happening instead of just the individual symptoms. They were able to take away almost all synthetic medications and supplement my body efficiently with a holistic approach. I feel an overall wellbeing that I haven't felt in a long time. My body is functioning so much more efficiently, which I believe a lot of people easily take for granted. I have grown an understanding and appreciation for what it feels like to wake up in the morning and actually feel good.

Q: How has it been returning to your life in River Falls?

A: Returning to life at home has been a little more challenging than I anticipated. Even though I am feeling so much better, my body is still recovering and I cannot jump back into the typical daily activities as much as I would like to. I am slowly introducing more and more activities each day to build up to a normal routine.

I have also been incorporating many of the tools used at treatment to continue my healing at home. These tools include an ARP machine, which is used during workouts, and a microcurrent machine. These cutting-edge therapies helps stimulate the nervous system and promote a healthy immune response. These therapies have helped so significantly I would recommend them to anyone suffering from chronic pain. They actually heal the injury and do not just treat the symptoms.

Q: What would you like the community to know about Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

A: I would like people to know that there are many people suffering from chronic pain and that pain changes your life so significantly it feels as though everything is falling apart. I think it is important that not only doctors and insurance companies but also everyday people understand the magnitude of the chronic pain epidemic. Most people think it is a mental health disorder which you caused to yourself or think it can just be treated with pain medication and the issue will go away. But there is so much more to it!

In order to begin healing you need to look at all factors contributing to the illness. For example, being in extreme pain causes stress both physically and mentally, which in turn increases pain. Then add not being able to work because of this debilitating pain on top of that, which causes more stress and financial distress. This is what I consider to be a vicious cycle that continues a snowball effect on one's life until a person cannot manage on their own anymore.

I believe when insurance companies are not doing their jobs responsibly and paying for what they are supposed to, or specifically designed for, our health care system allows a person to be one injury away from going bankrupt. Our system needs change! That is why I am working hard with my lawyer to lobby against this type of systematic cruelty placed on those who suffer from a chronic illness.