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How I cured my chronic hand pain as a software engineer

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by cyclingFred, Aug 14, 2022.

  1. cyclingFred

    cyclingFred New Member

    I’m a software engineer living in London. From Dec 2020 to Dec 2021 I had horrible chronic pain in my hands. I was terrified and scared and had some really bad lows. I was very lucky to have a supportive job, friends, family and partner I'm SO grateful for them. But here is how I cured it. I hope this helps you!

    The cure, summarised.

    For the first 6 months of pain, I went to see many many specialists who all either couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me or even if they claimed to know what was wrong their treatment did not help. I even paid to see the number 1 hand doctor in London and after a 5-minute examination, he said that there was nothing physically wrong with me that he would be able to fix but just maybe I’m unlucky and should consider a career change.

    At this point, I found out about TMS - and this website. I got addicted I read all of the books by Dr Sarno, I read all of the work by Alan Gordon. I listened to his podcasts which were great. I downloaded the app curable. I read the way out by Alan Gordon. I was so so excited about this idea. My mind completely opened to the fact that I could cure this which my brain and move on with my life.

    I started doing all of these exercises that they suggested, journaling, catching thoughts etc.. I started looking at my life, my job, my relationships. I didn’t change any of them. But I realised I could of viewed them a little better. This didn’t really work tbh, but I think it was a good way to begin to convince myself that the pain was not real and change the way I thought.

    In the end, I took the key step. This was a very small step at first. I did what I was most scared of doing without fear (because I now learned that this wasn’t real pain) and my brain relearned that it was okay. I started off by driving. I was away on holiday and drove to the airport and back - an hour and a half journey. During the drive, I had pain a little later, but it faded away quickly as I just went back to enjoying my holiday.

    This gave me the confidence to take a larger jump. - I started having physio back in London for something else and the physio used to work at a chronic pain clinic. He said that the process is to rule everything else out so that you can be certain the pain is being created by fear in you’re brain. We started working on strengthening my posture by doing rotator cuff exercises. This used to be a huge red flag exercise that would bring on pain when gripping the bands. But I started doing them every single day. At first, they hurt. I was sacred. But as I did them every day the pain stopped - I literally train my brain that using my hands in this way was fine, not scary, not dangerous. This small hand-based exercise was the key to training my brain.

    And these baby steps grew and grew. I next went to the gym and did some very small light sets of weights. Bench press, bicep curls etc.. I went 5 days a week. Everything from this point onwards was now a fear to overcome. After the month I was CURED. I had 0 pain, 0 fear and I was out! I now lift weights 5 times a week, cycle, drive, swim, the lot! I’m free BABY! Now when I’m in pain in any way I address the medical causes as best I can and knowing that it will always definitely go away I carry on with my day-to-day life!
  2. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Great success story! Wonderful to hear and happy for you. Question: if you had bad hand pain that must have affected almost everything you did in normal life; making a meal, getting dressed, using the phone, whatever. I'm wondering if you had started avoiding certain little things in everyday life, and did you also make gradual steps to incorporate those things back in your life? (in addition to what you list above). For example, maybe you started avoiding making meals and just ordered out more, and as part of your therapy you slowly got back into cooking again. In a way that seems as hard and as important as anything, not just doing big things to convince your brain, but also eliminating the 300 avoidance behaviors that one might have built up.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  3. cyclingFred

    cyclingFred New Member

    Hey, sorry for the delay there,

    If you had started avoiding certain little things in everyday life:
    Yes for sure, as with chronic pain every time I opened a door, for example, it made me think about the pain (without really noticing I was thinking about it). And because of the pain I naturally avoided them.

    Did you also make gradual steps to incorporate those things back in your life?
    I naturally started to do the little things again. But it was the BIG things like driving and typing that I made steps to gradually bring back into my life.

    Basically, I had pain almost all the time day and night and of course, I was avoiding things. But really I was doing it subconsciously. As I started the reading and the therapy and understanding what might be happening. I started having pain less during the day say from 90% of the day to 40/50%. And I was avoiding things. But once I had done the reading and then carefully started the Physical part of lightly -> using exercise bands etc. The pain over the course of a week or 2 went down very quickly. And as soon as it was gone, these smaller avoidance habits started to be redundant and stopped. So there was no need to do that with the smaller things like cooking cleaning etc.

    I think ultimately, for me anyway, I tried to focus on the bigger picture and the bigger issues. IE why can I not grip and lift a weight without the pain getting worse? Why can I not drive? I think when I started to fix those, naturally, I stopped avoiding the smaller things.

    PS the other thing which really helped me move on - Even in my worst moments I would get dragged out by my girlfriend and my friends in the evenings, go for drinks or for dinner. Having fun really got me through it and allowed me to not obsess! I did notice that when I'd had some drinks and was hanging with my friends that I often had no pain even before I knew about TMS!

    So get out there an have fun while going through this healing process! It helps make it all a bit easier!
    JanAtheCPA and hawaii_five0 like this.
  4. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Fred, do I get your permission to post your story on the Thank you, Dr Sarno site? Link below:
    http://www.thankyoudrsarno.org/ (Thank You, Dr. Sarno)
  5. victoriab1301

    victoriab1301 New Member

    Hi, thanks for sharing your story! I’ve been struggling for a long time with overcoming my fear of my own hand/wrist pain. I think this comes from my own worrying about this being a structural issue that may have been missed, or that it’s something worse. What was able to convince you that it was safe to do these activities again? Do you have any tips for overcoming the fear of exercise and other activities using your hands?
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    As @cyclingFred said, you just do it. There is no other way. You don't overthink it, and you don't make preparations - you just do it. As you do it, if you pay attention and really listen to your brain, you will become aware that it is constantly sending you all kinds of fear and danger messages. Don't buy into them! Just assure your poor brain that you are safe. This is mindfulness.

    Baby steps, as Fred said, and as we always say.

    Are you doing the SEP or another program? They are designed to address fear.

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