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Alan G. Overcoming terrible back pain

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Hello. I am 33 years old and have suffered from chronic lower back pain for over a year. It began subtly but increased in pain and frequency over a few months. I began having debilitating back spasms that would make me drop to the ground. They were sudden, and brief but were literally the most painful thing I have ever experienced. Once I had an episode, it would generally reoccur over and over until I remained off my feet for an extended period of time. After trying many traditional methods for relief and seeing many doctors/specialists that couldn't give me any definitive answers, I started doing my own research. I stumbled upon Healing Back Pain by Dr. Sarno and decided that I may very well suffer from TMS. Unfortunately I wasn't able to overcome my symptoms from the information I learned from this book. I continued researching the subject and even bought a TMS workbook (although, I admit I did not complete it in its entirety). I did not immediately notice any changes until weeks later, out of the blue my pain just seemed to dissipate! I would say there was a 85% decrease in overall pain and I had gone for a couple weeks without a single spasm. Imagine my excitement! I put it to the test, doing activities that I had suspended due to pain. I was REALLY learning to trust my body again and let go of the fear that tortured me. I took to social media and announced to the world how much better I was feeling and that I was ready to get back to work! (I had previously quit my job as a bartender due to my back pain) A few weeks later I began a new job as a bartender on a boat. It consisted of very short shifts, usually about 3 hours at a time. After getting back to work I began to, again, experience some back pain during my shifts, but not to the point of full-on spasms. Last night I began employment of an additional job as a bartender at a different establishment. I worked an entire 8 hour shift and, let me tell you, it was as if I reverted right back to where I was a couple months ago. I began having spasms at the end of the night and had difficulty getting out of my car when I returned home. As you can maybe imagine, all of the fear that I had worked to let go of came flooding back. Today I have been a mess of tears. I don't understand why it is back or what more I can do to get better. I have considered seeing a doctor or therapist that is knowledgeable and experienced in TMS but I cannot find anyone in my area. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2017
    PAwoodchopper likes this.
  2. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Brittney,
    I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through. I have two thoughts: 1. I'm not surprised that it came back again, and 2. You can totally overcome this thing.

    Here's the thing - pain is a danger signal. It's our brain's way of warning us from causing additional tissue damage. Like, if you put your hand on a hot stove, the pain is telling you, "You better move your hand or you might cause more tissue damage."

    But sometimes these danger signals can get activated even if you're not actually at risk. About ten years ago there was a construction worker who stepped on a nail. The nail went clear through his boot and out the other side. He was in agony! An ambulance rushed him to the hospital, the doctors rushed him back to the ER, they pried his boot off, and the nail had gone right in between his toes! Didn't even cause a scratch.

    So what is it that keeps these danger signals activated even when there's no physical damage? Fear, preoccupation, anticipation, etc.

    So when you start up a new job working 8 straingt hours, there's a part of your brain that's thinking, "Uh oh, can I handle this? Is the pain going to come back? Is this going to ruin my life?" It's not surprising that the pain is going to come back when there's all this fear and anticipation. That's what triggers our danger signals.

    It's not about preventing the pain from coming on, it's about changing the way you respond when it does. So what do you do when it does?

    "Of course you're going to come back, pain. It's another opportunity for you to try to scare me. But bring it on. I'm done being afraid."

    You know that you have TMS, you proved that when the pain went down 85%. Now it's just a matter of changing your relationship with the fear around the pain. That's easier said than done, but with practice, you can do it.


    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

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    Lou, shmps and sam908 like this.
  3. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    Hi Alan, Can I apply this approach to all other symptoms? Even though its not listed as a symptom. I had ear fullness, blockage, dizziness in March with the onset of cold/viral. ENT said its residual inflammation from cold and should go away on its own. It took me 3 months not to fear it. But once i overcame the fear the symptoms reduced by 85%. Last week I had cold/allergy and I again have Ear symptoms, How can I apply TMS approach when my mind rationalizes that its inflammation caused by cold/allergy each time?

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