Snake Bite Leaves Texas Woman With World's 'Most Painful Medical Diagnosis'

A bite from one of the world's most venomous snakes in 2017 has left a woman from Texas with what many experts consider to be the world's most painful disorder.

Rachel Myrick, a 40-year-old realtor from Fredericksburg, was bitten by a copperhead snake as she was entering the LongHorn Steakhouse in Spotsylvania County four and a half years ago.

Myrick was bitten twice on her toes and once on the side of her foot by an 8 inch-long copperhead that had managed to get into the restaurant's foyer. The bites caused excruciating pain, leading her to drop her cellphone, wallet and her son's hand, The Free Lance-Star reported at the time.

The world's media picked up on the story and it was reported globally, telling how Myrick received antivenom, often also called antivenin, treatment in Mary Washington Hospital as her foot and ankle swelled.

But Myrick's misery didn't end there, even as media interest in the story began to cool. Either the bite, the antivenin used to save her life, or a combination of the two, left her suffering from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a condition that means something as simple as a light touch can cause excruciating pain.

That means just a brush against her skin or even a light breeze can be debilitating, LMTonline reported.

Excruciatingly Painful

She told the news outlet: "You feel like your skin is sunburned, then you take sand or shards of glass, depending on how bad my moment is, and you just rub it into the top.

"I'm in the worst pain of my entire life, times 10."

The McGill Pain Index is a questionnaire given to patients to measure the level of pain they are experiencing. CRPS sits near the top of the McGill scale above tooth fracture, chronic back pain, amputation of fingers or toes, and even childbirth.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH) says the condition follows an injury to an arm or leg and that other symptoms of CRPS include changes in skin color, temperature, and/or swelling on the arm or leg below the site of the injury.

It adds that the majority of CRPS injuries seem to be caused by the improper function of nerve fibers sending signals to the brain. NIH also says that the condition, which causes "burning" or "pins and needles" sensations or feelings of the affected limb being squeezed, usually goes away in time when the nerve regrows. Severe cases, however, can cause prolonged disability.

CRPS can be difficult to treat because of the varied symptoms it causes and the fact they can change over time with, for example, diabetes and smoking inversely affecting treatment. That means currently there is no way to rapidly cure CRPS.

To help snake-bite victim Myrick pay for treatments that aren't covered by her insurance and to help her family pay for bills and other expenses, her mother, Patricia DeWolfe, has organized a Go Fund Me appeal.

On the fund-raising page, DeWolfe writes about her daughter: "She has been through 4 minor surgeries and 2 major surgeries, as well as dozens and dozens of doctors appointments with the total of her medical bills well surpassing 1.1 million dollars in this short time frame; with limitless bills to go ahead of her.

"Feeling like she is on fire from deep in the bones out, through the muscles, and the skin level worst sunburn of a person's life while also having what feels like shards of glass ground into it at all times... Rachel is in worst pain than most can even fathom; and there is no break - it's 24/7."

Copperhead
A file photo of a copperhead snake. The bite of a copperhead snake in 2017 left Rachel Myrick with a condition that causes pain from even the lightest touch. Mark Kostich/GETTY