Chis L Loves Hiking and Rock Climbing With His Friends in New Mexico

“I feel like I’ve gotten my life back completely. It’s really just a miracle.”

13 Diagnoses Later, Young Teen Overcomes Mystery Pain

On the second day of 6th grade, New Mexico resident, Chris Lueras was not feeling himself. His family disregarded it thinking he was a typical middle schooler trying to get a day off from school, until he collapsed with shooting pains in his right side while filling his water bottle.

Rushed to the hospital and treated for gastrointestinal issues, Chris’ doctors assured the Lueras family he had severe constipation that would pass with some medications and sent him home. But when he returned to the emergency room two days later, they had no idea what was ahead of them.

Chris spent six weeks in the hospital undergoing test after test. 13 diagnoses later, they were no closer to uncovering what going on inside of him that now took control over his body and prohibited him from moving his right leg. His skin became so sensitive that he could not bear clothes, covers, or be hugged by his own mother. The breeze that came through when the doctors opened his hospital door would send him into excruciating pain.

What could cause a happy, healthy, athletic young kid this much pain? Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS); a chronic pain condition in which the abnormal pain reflex constricts the blood vessels. This restricts blood flow and oxygen from the muscles, bones, and skin resulting in an acid build-up that causes a child amplified pain. "Chronic pain syndromes are often misdiagnosed because though the child has pain and dysfunction, most of the medical test come back normal," said Dr. Katherine Bentley, Director of the Chronic Pain Management Program at Children's Specialized.

Chis sleeping Forced to miss school and extracurricular activities from the pain of AMPS, Chris spiraled into a depression. It became so bad that he created a fort out of cardboard boxes where he chose to live for two weeks straight just so that his family would not have to see him in pain. They tried acupuncture, medical hypnosis, physical therapy, water therapy, salt baths, and more but nothing seemed to help. Over 275 unproductive therapy sessions later, Diane brought Chris over 1,980 miles across the country to Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

“I was honestly amazed. We accomplished more in the first few days at Children’s Specialized then we had been able to in the 275 appointments back home,” said Diane.

Chris in a wheelchair Chris spent 4 weeks in the Chronic Pain Management Program at Children's Specialized. As one of the few inpatient pain programs in the country, this multidisciplanary approach for adolescents focuses on improving function and reintegrating the child back into their everyday life. Through occupational therapy, physical therapy, pool therapy, psychological therapy and more, Chris worked eight hours a day, seven days a week to regain his strength. He came into the hospital confined to a wheelchair, and left walking. “Towards the end of his stay, we would get in trouble for running up and down the hall but I didn’t care because I got my little brother back,” said Chris’ sister Savannah.

With a toolkit of skills he learned at Children's Specialized to manage his flare-ups, Chris is now back home doing the things he loves like rock climbing and hiking. While on a 3 day hiking trip with his friends, he began to experience some pain in his legs. “I immediately sat down, took some deep breathes and was back on the trail in a few minutes,” remembers Chris.

“I feel like I’ve gotten my life back completely. It’s really just a miracle.”