Putting Out the Fire: New Hope for RSD/CRPS by Katinka van der Merwe

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I didn’t come across Katinka’s work until fairly recently. My pain specialist recommended her Hope for Chronic Pain podcast. And a friend of mine recommended her book Putting Out the Fire: New Hope for RSD/CRPS. I quite liked her podcast and was interested in what she had to say in her book. I figured it was going to be a bit of a guide to what they do at the Spero Clinic.

She’s also a Saffa 🙂 Growing up of South African heritage, there’s an innate tendency to lean towards holistic treatments first. Traditional and natural medicine seems to be used in conjunction a lot more than the Australian tendency to add another pill or cut something out.

What I got from the book

Putting Out the Fire: New Hope for RSD/CRPS by Katinka van der MerweOne thing that consistently comes up for me when exploring treatment options and the emerging researching into the CRPS: the treatments that work are multi-modality and compliment each other. There is no single silver bullet that cures it. Even at the Spero Clinic.

She wrote Putting Out the Fire: New Hope for RSD/CRPS in 2016. Given some of the things she discusses on her podcast, her treatments have continued to evolve from when she first published her book. Katinka walks through what is CRPS, symptoms and things that we many not initially attribute to CRPS. I like how she explains the nervous system and how our bodies react to long term pain conditions.

She goes through that various aspects of the Vagus Nerve and Autonomic Nervous System in a plain English. Unlocking knowledge about how the nervous system responds to chronic pain has been key to me being able to more proactively manage my pain.

Katinka talks through the functional component of cellular inflammation and dives quite deep in managing vagal tone (Vagus Nerve) and dedicates a few chapters to different treatment modalities with a heavy emphasis on diet. She specifically talks about the positive impacts a ketogenic diet has for pain management and common trigger ingredients for CRPS warriors.

The other part of the book I thought was really interesting was the chapter on supplementation. I refined some of my supps based on her book and have found marginal improvements. I tend to notice when I don’t take them opposed to when I do take them if that makes any sense 🙂 

Who is the Spero Clinic

The Spero Clinic has gained a reputation for effective, non-invasive nervous system rehabilitation with a number of patients going into remission. The tension point for a lot of spoonies is the sheer cost of the program and the slick marketing. Some of it is patented which is a rub point for some spoonies who would like things to be more accessible.

From what I’ve been able to work out through her book and podcast, there’s a number of treatments available in Australia (albeit not in the same place), and there’s a number of things we can do ourselves or in collaboration with our local care teams. I talk about the things I’ve found particularly helpful here

Other books by Katinka

She also written Taming the Beast: A Guide to Conquering Fibromyalgia (2013) and A Paradigm Shift In Treating EDS/POTS (2024). I haven’t read either of them but from what I can tell they follow the same holisitic philosophy used through the work she does at the Spero Clinic.

Spoonie brain hack

Side note, Spoonie Audible Hack: Since CRPS, I’ve struggled to read recreationally. There are a lot of books not available in the Australian region which is amazingly annoying. Determined to not have CRPS steal another one of my joys, I looked into speech to text tools.

After trying a few I settled on the premium subscription for Speechify (affiliate link). I use it on my desktop and phone to plough through my school textbooks and Kindle books that aren’t available through Audible. Personally, I love it. I hack my brain by using the different voice actors. At the moment Snoop Dogg is reading me through my nutrition studies and making my anatomy subjects much more enjoyable. There’s other voices I used for different genres which helps me separate recreation from study. There is some science to this, but I’ll leave it at it works well for me when I have to focus vs when I can wind down.


Disclaimer: No Spoons to Cook is based on our own experience and research, and what we know works best for us. It is not medical advice. Our recipes focus on low inflammatory ingredients, whole foods and are founded in ketogenic and low carb ways of eating. We encourage spoonies to stay curious, ask questions, do your own research, listen to your body and to work with a Registered Dietitian or Medical Professional when appropriate to tailor your nutritional needs to support your care plan and goals.

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