Last January, 10-year-old Haley Abeelen broke two toes while playing with
friends. After weeks of pain that only grew worse, Haley was diagnosed
with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), an uncommon chronic pain condition
in which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to an injured area.
Even wearing a sock became unbearable for the fifth grader, whose fear
that someone might accidently touch her foot kept her increasingly isolated.
As Haley’s parents unsuccessfully sought solutions from physicians
and surgeons, the La Habra couple began to wonder if their daughter would
ever walk again.
In March, Haley’s mom Cheri found a description of St. Jude Medical
Center’s Chronic Pain Program online and within days, Haley was
enrolled in the innovative, nationallyrecognized program — one of
only a handful in the country with the expertise and services the 10-year-old needed.
A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH
The comprehensive, interdisciplinary program began addressing the physical,
emotional and psychological effects of Haley’s pain. Pain intervention
techniques were combined with carefullystructured physical and occupational
therapies, biofeedback, medication management and clinical counseling.
The first success came when Haley could rest her foot on the floor —
next was wearing a shoe. To rebuild atrophied muscles in Haley’s
leg and foot, as well as rebuild her confidence and love of being active,
there were games of Wii Sport with her occupational therapist and impromptu
soccer games against her physical therapist in the parking lot. The day
she walked unassisted into her classroom at school, her classmates clapped
“The physicians and therapists weren’t just experts at treating
her pain, they were experts at helping her heal emotionally. For Haley,
it became less like therapy, and more like going to a safe place filled
with people who genuinely cared for her,” explains Cheri, who watched
Haley move from a fearful, withdrawn child who wouldn’t look at
her therapists, to a talkative, outgoing girl who eagerly gave goodbye-hugs
at the end of therapy sessions.
By July, Haley was doing all the things that seemed unimaginable a few
months earlier: running, climbing trees, biking, and boogie-boarding in
the ocean. “They gave us back our daughter — and they gave
Haley back her life,” Cheri says. “How can you thank someone
MEASURING SUCCESS BY CHANGED LIVES
Within the pain program, transformations like Haley’s are common.
From debilitating back pain and fibromyalgia, to headaches and abdominal
pain, hundreds of patients — ages 10–90 — have learned
firsthand why the highly effective program is one of the nation’s
“Those who live with chronic pain often feel trapped inside a hopeless
and helpless existence,” explains Fred Nowroozi, MD, a board-certified
rehabilitation medicine expert and medical director of the St. Jude Chronic
Pain Program. “We help patients transform that suffering into living
passionately in a world of wellness, productivity and potential.”
ONE OF ONLY TWO IN THE STATE
By bringing together an interdisciplinary team of pain specialists —
rehabilitation medicine, clinical psychology, interventional anesthesiology,
physical therapy, biofeedback, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and recreation
therapy — the program treats the entire patient, addressing each
problem that contributes to their pain and inability to live life fully.
St. Jude’s program is one of only two in the state — along
with Stanford Medical Center — to offer a comprehensive approach
to pediatric and adult pain. “Before reaching us, patients have
often been to many doctors and clinics, and suffered for years,”
explains Cynthia Crane, CTRS, point of care coordinator.
“Pain is an extremely complex, often poorly understood medical problem
that profoundly affects everything you do,” explains Arthur Zepeda,
MD, a board-certified interventional anesthesiologist with the pain program.
“Unlike so many programs that focus almost exclusively on pain medications,
we bring together the entire spectrum of today’s best evidence-based
The results are evident in the almost constant smile of a 10-year-old girl.
For more information about the St. Jude Chronic Pain Program, please call