Life in Pain: How an Ankle Sprain Changed My Life

Life in Pain: How an Ankle Sprain Changed My Life

(Editor’s Note: National Pain Report is happy to welcome Amanda Siebe as our newest columnist. Amanda will be writing about her day-to-day struggles with chronic pain and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

I have always been an adventurous person. My two, active, older brothers made sure that I was never short on bruises, bumps, and broken bones.

I grew up an adrenaline junkie without much fear. Hiking, camping, mountaineering, whitewater rafting — there was nothing I wouldn’t do. I was a high adventure leader for both the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. I was even one of two female firefighters in our district for a couple years.

My son was 4 when I started working at the restaurant. His dad and I had just gotten a divorce and I had moved to San Francisco. I was the manager, working on my feet for at least 55 hours a week. Then the accident happened that changed my life forever.

Amanda Sieve

Amanda Siebe

I sprained my ankle.

A simple little sprain, but I never knew such an innocent injury could become such a big deal. My foot swelled so badly that I couldn’t move it. I swore up and down that I had torn my tendon.

Three full days of work after notifying my employer that I had been injured, they finally sent me to the doctor. I am not the type of person that would leave the restaurant short handed, so I ended up limping my way through the rest of my shifts. I was put on crutches and told not to put any weight on my foot, and that it would heal. My boss thought differently, and had me working in the slippery restaurant on crutches where I repeatedly fell.

Eventually, I fell so hard that they had to send me home for six weeks to rest and hopefully heal.

Weeks dragged on with no medical treatment, no pay, and no hope. Who knew that workers compensation could be so slow? My foot grew worse and worse. Since I was the sole provider for my family, we ended up losing our apartment.

We moved back to Oregon and in with my parents. Finally, six months later, I started getting medical treatment through workers compensation. It took another few months and three more doctors to find out exactly why my foot was not healing. In November 2012, 11 months after my injury, I was diagnosed with CRPS.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy(RSD), is a form of neuropathy. The nerves in the affected area register every form of stimulation as pain. Every touch of my legs, brush of a blanket, or strong breeze feel as thought the skin is being peeled from my body.

There are times that my legs swell and cramp so badly that they feel as if they are birthing razor blades. Most of the time my legs are cold, blue and feel like they are being stabbed repeatedly. The worst part, though, is that the disorder spreads over time. It started in my left foot then spread to my left calf. Next it hopped over to my right foot and my right calf. Now it is in both legs all the way up to my mid thigh.

There is no cure for CRPS. I have tried a multitude of different medications, nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, TENS units, massage, and physical therapy to deal with the symptoms. I went from walking with a limp to using a cane, then a walker, and now, finally, a wheelchair.

I am now 28, my son is 5, I am married to the man of my dreams, and I have a house full of pets. Life is different. Everyday I struggle with the effects CRPS has on my mind and body, and the immense pain that consumes my life. It’s part of my identity now.

Arranging treatments and talking to lawyers is a full time job. But I remain hopeful. I have good days where everything lines up, and my pain goes from a blazing inferno down to a dull roar.

I’m reminded by my friends and encouraged by my family, that life is worth living. I haven’t given up fighting yet.

Amanda Siebe lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son. She writes about her daily battle with chronic pain in her blog “Life in Pain.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed in this column are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report, American News Report, Microcast Media Group or any of its employees, directors, owners, contractors or affiliate organizations. National Pain Report and American News Report make no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information in this column, and is not responsible or liable for any errors, omissions, or delays (intentional or not) in this information; or any losses, injuries, and or damages arising from its display, publication, dissemination, interpretation or use.

Opposing views, opinions and positions about this column are welcomed by National Pain Report, American News Report and or Microcast Media Group. Publication or lack of publication of opposing views, opinions and/or positions does not imply, suggest or expressly reflect an endorsement or disapproval of the originating commentary on the part of National Pain Report, American News Report or Microcast Media Group.

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Hi Amanda -

Your story is a fantastically sad one, and I personally thank you for sharing it. It’s incredible to see how many people are in so much pain throughout the world. I have never heard of CRPS until today, but I find you an inspiration that you have managed to stay strong throughout this.

I am a thirteen-year-old who has actually had undiagnosed chronic pain since I was nine - four-and-a-half years ago. The pain mysteriously started in my thigh, and I began to notice it on the ski slope. It got worse and worse, and then it moved to my right ankle. I’ve had it there ever since. I’ve been to countless doctors, and, other than being diagnosed with joint hypermobility, a strained and injured talocalcanean joint, and “fallen arches”, have not found anything to alleviate the pain. These past four weeks I have done nothing but lay in bed, and every strong medication I take doesn’t help a bit. I am going into high school next year, and will probably have to do so in a wheelchair.

It’s amazing for me to find other people who are in horrible pain as I am, though it’s very sad to have to read about. Your story serves as an inspiration to me. Thank you, and good luck.

Best wishes,
Holly 🙂

Kerry Yandle

My ankle is the same way. The pain is co bad, I just want to Die and that is my Life with RSD. I want to Die that’s all.

Thank you for sharing your story and representing those of us who suffer with this horrible disease. Mine also began with a sprain. I was 22 and like you, had always been very active, sporty, and I was a classical ballet dancer growing up in NYC.
I identify with people like you who draw strength through connecting with others, find ways to push through the darkness and grab onto hope, and I very much identify with anyone who plunges into the depths and comes out the other side with an eagerness to help others.
Thank you for your courage and spreading awareness.
God bless,

Beth powers

First of all I read your story and I understand what you are going through. I have RSD and get it. I am so glad to hear you will not give up. I hurt my tailbone and now it has spread to both legs and hips and my bladder and I have other new issues as well. It spreads, I use a cane when I need it. I have no doubt that if I have not found the right mix of medication I to would be in a wheel chair. Do you have a good doctor? A Doctor who understands this disease? I can suggest some medication that is time release and can help you be more mobile. When I feel the clothes on my skin I just put on light sweat pants and call it good. I would love to talk with you. I am. Animal lover too. I have two Saint Bernards And I too have a wonderful family. I thought that we could become a good start to a support team since we both understand what we both are going through. A gal named Lisa said that Eric are Pain Warriors. I loved that title. Let me know if you would like to talk I could call you and talk. Hang in there. Beth Powers

Christina R

I forgot to mention in march I was diagnosed with neuropathy because of all the trauma to my ankles and feet. One of the worst pain I have felt besides having a baby by c section.

Christina R

I am going threw similar things also. I have played basketball all threw middle and high school. I injured my right ankle by twisting it doing suicides. Over the years I just excepted that it was going to be weak. I also have scoliosis in all three sections of my spine. In 2003 I was re ended sitting under a caution light. I sustained a neck injury and pain to the lower back. I was in my last quarter of college. Graduation was six weeks away. I manged to graduate a week late but I did it. I continue on with therapy and nerve blocks. Nothing helped. The neurologist said there was nothing more he could do and that I would be on pain medications for the rest of my life. In 2011 my same right ankle started giving me problems again. The physician ordered a MRI on both feet and ankles. Found out the right ankle had the anterior talofibular ligament is nonexistent secondary to a chronic complete tear. Small tibiotalar joint effusion with mild synovial. Mild marrow edema in the mallets and adjacent tibia on both sides of the deltoid ligamentous complex may be reactive. Mild tibiotalar and mid foot joint osteoarthritis. Left ankle and foot chronic-appearing moderate grade partial tear of the anterior ligament. Small tibiotalar joint effusion. Small dorsal spurs noted at the talonavicular articulation and these MRI’s are from 2011. I am in a fight ever month in Florida to get my pain medications and it’s so inhumane. I did not ask for all this crap that has happened to me. I’m just trying to push threw everyday and raise my son who is 12. Not having medications makes it nearly impossible.


I too have CRPS in my left foot /ankle. I started out with a sprained ankle that was not treated correctly. After it was not healing, I was told by a Podiatrist that I needed surgery and during the surgery he cut into the Tibial nerves & nicked the Lateral Plantar Nerve! This is what caused my CRPS in 2007.
I have been thru all the treatments you mentioned & so much more. Mine has tried to mirror over to my right foot/ ankle on several occasions, but I have been able to stop it. At one point it moved up to my knee, but thanks to a doctor in Frankfurt, Germany we were able to shrink the area involved and lower my pain levels. Last year I was the first person in the world to hav Regional Hyperthermia used on this condition in Germany.
I would love for you to contact me. There is hope out there. This is an awful disease, and life changing…
I hope you can contact me for more information on different treatment options that are out there.
Best wishes!