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Backwards and forwards. Normal?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by AmandaMoo, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. AmandaMoo

    AmandaMoo New Member

    Hi guys

    I am new to the TMS theory (read 'Healing back pain' last week) and I 90% believe I am a sufferer.

    I keep getting close to accepting it but keep falling back to the structural bulging disc problems - I have a great fear of developing 'cauda equina syndrome' (which is compression of bowel/bladder nerves leading to emergency surgery) so I have been limiting my activities and avoiding anything that may push the disc further into the nerves. I have reduced reflex in my left ankle (it was completely absent in 2009 when I initially had back pain and was diagnosed with a large bulging disc so has improved)

    I have spoken to several experts over the last few days about this and their responses have all been different which doesn't help!

    One quoted: once a disc is bulging or herniated it won't get worse
    The next: as it hasn't actually gotten worse or caused cauda equina in the 3 years I wouldn't worry
    The next: Cauda equina is only caused by major trauma - not a gradual thing so it won't happen. And loss of reflexes mean nothing

    All dubious compared to the stuff I have read!

    I have written 2 lists. One is all the reasons why I believe it's TMS and the other is all the reasons why I believe it isn't. One list is huge and the other only has a couple of words on it: they are physical diagnosis and loss of reflex

    I am going backwards and forwards like a mad woman - its driving me mad! One minute I believe it's TMS then I read something that makes me revert back to the structural and so on

    Is it normal to do this? I am trying to find a way to get over the structural because I know it doesn't make sense. Is this my brain fighting me?

    My old brain says there must be cases of people with disc problems where the disc really is the problem and if I ignore the physical diagnosis I could seriously injure myself. I know others have disc problems and have normal lives but some people's spinal canals are bigger than others so a bulge wouldn't affect them as much.

    My new brain says my pain doesn't make sense. It's like there's a big argument going on in my head. Like tug of war

    Sometimes I think it would be easier to just accept the structural diagnosis because all this aggro is giving me a headache lol

    I can't think of anything else but whether or not I have TMS :-(

    Did anyone else have this battle to accept TMS? do you think I will accept it over time? I know it is early days yet. Even if I do I think I will still fear causing further damage to that disc. There must be a point where it can cause trouble even if it's not now.

    Thanks and sorry for running on. So confused!


    Those of you who have read my first post will know my story is long so briefly:

    Diagnosis: A large disc bulge at L5/S1 impinging on both S1 nerve roots. Back, leg, hip, knee pains on and off since 2009. Diminished ankle reflex. Pain wanders/comes and goes - usually comes in march/April and goes in autumn. It also comes and goes on an hourly/daily basis in that period. MRI scan in 2009 repeated in 2011 which showed disc had not really changed.

    Anxiety since a panic attack out of nowhere in march/april 2007

    My personality: I like to be liked and make people happy. I like to do well but feel like a failure in some ways due to various courses I haven't completed, a failed business etc. I am a born worrier regarding my family and children plus other angsts. I think my inner child argues with my inner parent!
  2. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Hi Amanda:

    Welcome to the forum. I can see you are in a bit of a quandary, but I made a few notations of your dilemma.

    You say you have an anxiety issue. I do too, and so see it in others. There is a lot of discussion on the forum about anxiety and how tough it can be along with TMS/PPD. I've also had lower back pain for over 10 years. There is nothing really wrong with my back (anymore), so I completely accept this diagnosis. But it was a journey to get there.

    It can't hurt to try the Structured Educational Program on the Wiki. In doing this, you may uncover some issues that you can relate to and your back injury. I can feel your anxiety about exercising - but the program doesn't ask you to try anything that you're not ready for.

    I think this may be a good place for you to start. This way, you'll learn more about your anxiety, yourself, and perhaps get rid of some of your fears. But then again - perhaps your fears are well founded. Again, the program doesn't ask you to do anything you aren't ready for. It is amazing however to find your pain leaving simply by addressing old issues.

    Good luck and keep posting. Perhaps if you write here, as well as in your journal you'll know the right steps for you.

  3. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Amanda. First of all, it is normal especially since we are conditioned to think that way about any pain! When I first had pain I figured I had done something "wrong", moved "wrong", carried "wrong," etc. But that was not the case. Our bodies are strong.

    I had the herniated L5s1 and L4 too, degenerative disc disease, etc. On the MRI I could see how the one disc appeared to be against a nerve. Yes I was scared.

    When I got MOBP, Dr. Sarno's first book, someone gave me Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Healing too, and there was a man who had multiple shattered discs which of course his pain was blamed on. Turns out he saw Dr. Sarno, did "the work", accepted TMS and the pain was gone. When I read that, I realized that shattered discs had to be worse than my herniated guys, and I felt hopeful. Did the work too and the pain did go away. I'm assuming the herniated discs are still there though don't plan to have another MRI to find out! :eek: I also had numbness, tingling, weirdness in my legs. It's all gone. And I learned to stop googling symptoms!!

    It is interesting to see the timing of your pain and how it moves. You have already listed things above that I would be writing about to process them and see where acceptance, a changed perspective, forgiveness, etc. can take you! :) I would also read and re-read Dr. Sarno's books for the information to sink in (takes time).

    Hugs and best wishes!
    Beach-Girl and Forest like this.
  4. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Amanda - Once the doctor gives you the clear that you don't have a structural problem (which it sort of sounds like has happened) commit to the approach and start to think psychological. Seeing a physician is always the first step and it sounds like the three doctors you spoke with said not to worry about Cauda equina, so don't.

    As Lori mentioned - stop googling your symptoms! This is only creating fear and keeping you focused on your symptoms. Start educating yourself about TMS. Read Sarno's books, this forum and the other pages on the wiki. We have a whole bunch of success stories that can help you accept the diagnosis. Don't worry about if do or do not have TMS. Focus on what your emotions are now and educate yourself on TMS. This approach works and you are in the right place.


  5. AmandaMoo

    AmandaMoo New Member

    Hi Forest

    I have only spoken to experts via email - none of them have examined me or seen my MRI scans hence my caution.

    But you and Lori and right I should stop googling but I have been trying to match up my symptoms to that of disc and muscular problems. Hence the googling :)

    Quite a few revalations with that today actually. My symptoms have always been more closely matched muscular problems but I had never realised it until now!

    I had just accepted it was the disc but now I am pretty certain it is muscular in origin which would go hand in hand with TMS so I'm going to stop concentrating on this now, believe its muscular and have started journaling already so fingers crossed!

    My pains are bouncing around all over the place - One minute hip, then knee, then foot. How can a disc do that? It bloody can't so 'hah! brain' I caught you out :-D

    Beach-Girl, veronica73 and Forest like this.
  6. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

  7. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    This is awesome Amanda:

    You should go back and read the posts you've written. You have already done a turn around and seem close (perhaps truly there) in accepting the TMS diagnosis. There is really nothing that can hurt you as you work the SEP. Yes, Dr. Sarno talks about getting back to doing the things you used to do. But it doesn't mean you have to start this weekend.

    You have come full circle since you started your research into TMS on this forum! Now the work begins and it's really good to find out what's going on within ourselves.

    And read Lori's success story on her profile. I find it most uplifting and promising. I think you'll find it very inspiring as well.

  8. MatthewNJ

    MatthewNJ Well known member


    It sounds like you are NORMAL, Normal Normal! How does it feel to be NORMAL! Everything you wrote sounds pretty normal. We are humans, and we have expectations based on our life experiences, and there you have it! Simply said, yet not so simply dealt with! : - ) I agree with everything above. I have been there done that so to speak (check out my profile). And I, like you LOVE to go find information and answers (and the internet feeds that need and then the cycle...ouch). Clearly that is a part of your personality as it is mine. BUT remember that you have been doing that all your life. So if you are 20, that is 20 YEARS of programming your body/mind/spirit ONE way. If you are like me, I was diagnosed @ 43! I have been working on changing my ways for 9 years and I never intend to stop again, it is liberating. It doesn't change in 5 minutes, or 1 day or 1 week. It takes time and practice (UGH!). The GOOD news is, you are here. That is the first step. More GOOD news is, as Beachgirl wisely said "You have already done a turn around and seem close (perhaps truly there) in accepting the TMS diagnosis." Because that is the next step, accepting. I agree with the other folks, that you should give a go at the Structured Program here on the wiki. If that works for you great. If not, there are lots of other methods all of us can share with you. BUT, give the Structured program a good college try. Also, try to focus on good things, and not on symptoms. I know that is tough, but what you focus on is where you stay! Stay focused on symptoms, you keep having symptoms! Another thing is to do some journaling. Not everyone is into this. I journal occasionally. But one of the great things about journaling is , you can go back and read them later and REALLY see your progress. For example, in 2008 I had a severe relapse. Today, I am under the worse stress of my life, yet I have NO severe symptoms. THAT is progress, and YOU can get there too. Stick with us, we will guide you there. Think about jouning our Peer Support Drop in chat room on Saturdays @ 3 EST.

    Love and Light,

    veronica73 likes this.
  9. Max2094

    Max2094 New Member

    I think the back and forth doubt your experiencing is perfectly normal. People need to remember Sarno himself openly states there are times when a disc is clearly the source of pain and needs surgery. But Sarno himself is able to be the judge of that during an examination.

    Imagine how many people would not be cured of pain if they never saw a TMS doctor and left themselves in limbo never truly being able to shake the structural or not structural battle that goes on in your head. (A diagnosis will remove this doubt for most people)

    Not trying to be to upfront here but anyone who has an MRI reading that may seem slightly dubious needs to get a complete evaluation by a TMS trained doctor. They will be able to tell you if your pains correlate with your disc or seem like they are more likely from oxygen deprivation.

    It really is very hard to come to this conclusion on your own when deep down you fear a disc problem or something structural.

    I understand it's not easy for everyone to get to a TMS doctor but if you can i say go. It will take away your fears and you can move out of this KNOWING that you cant hurt yourself and that the pain is there, But harmless. There is no harm in starting a program and journalling etc but keep in mind the TMS diagnosis MUST sink in truly in your heart before your brains pain startergy is uncovered and the pain starts to subside.

    From what i can see your still reading up on disc problems and have doubt so i think you will save yourself precious time in your healing KNOWING your pain is psychosomatic and harmless physically.

    I think one way of looking at it is this... You read of all the horror pain stories cured by the TMS approach and it's so amazing. People with horrible scary symptoms like foot drop and complete numbness and nightmare stuff that would have the neurosurgeons eagerly sharpening their operating tools... But alas they found out there pain was TMS and bang, All gone. It truly is a miracle and Sarno is a genius beyond our time.

    But my point is how many of those people with the really scary symptoms or just darn painful one's would be cured if they sat around journalling and going over negative emotions etc but still had doubt of the diagnosis in their mind?? Not too many i believe. My point of telling you all this is i wish someone had been this upfront with me in the beginning and saved me a lot of time and energy constantly stressing over the diagnosis.

    Go for it Amanda, Life is too short and you have the power to be painfree you just have to let the TMS diagnosis 100% sink in. You will know when this has happened and the relief will surely follow.

    Good luck.
    Forest, Beach-Girl and veronica73 like this.
  10. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    I agree with Max. Even though I was pretty sure I had TMS, it was helpful to hear it from a TMS doctor (mine also treats a lot of other conditions so I knew he would pick up if something else was going on). Once you have the peace of mind that you definitely have TMS it will probably be easier to let go of googling the old diagnosis.
  11. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    i know exactly what you're talking about amanda with this back and forth thing. once you read something else about the physical diagnosis it gets you worried again and makes you start questioning whether you have TMS or not. you really have to keep telling yourself every single day because its a battle with your mind to keep on track with the treatment for mind body disorder. if you have a bad day or you end up reading something about the physical diagnosis you were given, im sure you're going to have that battle in your mind again whether its caused by mind body syndrome or a physical problem. ive written down on paper many times why i know this is caused by MBS but still when i have bad days those thoughts start creeping back into my mind with doubt so i have to shut them down. that list you made is a good thing and i would keep doing that every time you have doubt or back and forth thoughts about the diagnosis. its something that really has to be reiterated a lot to seep in.
  12. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    SO many good things in this thread...

    Amanda, you sound a lot like me. Though I don't have an x-ray to show an abnormality, I have issues all over my body, but mostly head, neck, and shoulders and have for over 18 years. Also, anxiety has been a major component in my life for almost 22 years. My analytical mind causes more problems for me and I know that I am guilty of just plain "thinking" and worrying too much. I'm giving this TMS a shot, because I truly believe this is the only thing left. Keep reading the books and give it a chance. You are in the right place.
  13. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    honeybear you brought up analytical thinking and anxiety and this describes me perfectly as well. i overanalyze things WAY too much and worry about stuff all the time. i think these two things alone play a much greater importance in understanding MBS than we realize
  14. marjrc

    marjrc New Member

    I needed to see this thread today, so thank you for writing in, Amanda. I understand all too well the back and forth thinking, and the questions, but the advice here has been wonderful. I plan on grabbing a Sarno book today and rereading things. It's a journey! :)
  15. MatthewNJ

    MatthewNJ Well known member

    Two things above really stuck a cord with me. One was that Max said "There is no harm in starting a program and journaling" and a number of folks mentioned over analyzing. I have been at this a bunch of years (9+) and had a lot of successes. I believe that "over analyzing" ranks right up there with perfectionism and being a goodist. It is another way for our brain to distract us. I do ALL three (although, a lot less now). I recommend to people who do not have a TMS diagnosis but feel that is a path to investigate is to try the things here that reduce your stress and bring you peace. You CAN'T hurt yourself dong those things. Just make sure your doctor has checked you and not found anything that could be detrimental if untreated. I KNOW that is a the "TMS conundrum" , but if you are not getting better with what the doctors say, do this too!
    veronica73 likes this.
  16. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Amanda,

    This is a really good and complex question. It is something that I think a lot of people struggle with and ask when they are starting out. TMS practitioner, Alan Gordon, recently responded to this question as part of the wiki's Q&A with an Expert program. You can read his response in the thread: Is it PPD/TMS or a real structural issue.

    The response is very good and offers some great advice on how to overcome this doubt.

    We put so much trust in physicians that it can be really confusing and frustrating when they either say they can't help us or if there prescriptions just don't work. I think a lot of people want to have a structural problem because it means that they don't have to do the work and invesitigate their emotions. A doctor allows us to put our recovery in someone else's hands, while with TMS it is all in our hands. IMO, this is way some people don't accept the diagnosis.

    If there is a real structural cause, the treatments doctors prescribe should be much more effective then they are. I tried almost every treatment for my symptoms and the only thing that worked was TMS. As Matthew said, if you have tried treating it as a structural issue to no avail, then try something different. Again, check out Alan Gordon's Q&A response above. It is really helpful.
  17. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've noticed in myself that same danger you describe of going back and forth between the TMS and the physical diagnosis. When I get up in the morning I don't have lower lumbar pain or sciatica. But after I take a shower and start putting on my pants standing up one leg at a time, I'll hear a click when I stand on my left leg (the side where I have pain). When I hear that click, my mind starts to think about hypermobile vertebrae and I'm set up for feeling increasing pain the rest of the day. Lately, though, I haven't been hearing the "click" in the morning and the pain cycle doesn't start increasing the way it used to. Why is the so-called "hypermobility" going away? It could be, I speculate, because as the TMS subsides, my left lower lumbar region is getting supplied with more oxygen, so the muscles supporting my lower back, hip and leg are getting stronger and hence more stable. This is self-diagnosis of course, but it sure seems like what I thought of as a structural problem (the 'click') was due to the TMS oxygen debt phenomenon that Dr. Sarno describes. I likewise notice that when I ride my bike now that my left side is much stronger and the hip muscles rotate much more freely than at any time during the last three years since I had my TMS 'relapse' after taking a fall on my left glut out running. My fall was so inconsequential that it couldn't have caused physical damage to my lower lumbar region. If it had, I wouldn't have been able to run back to my car 1.5 miles with no pain whatsoever. The fall was obviously a 'trigger' that set off the TMS symptoms gradually over a long period afterwards. But I do know what you mean, Amanda, about vacillation between the structural and psychological explanations. My mind was so predisposed to finding a structural explanation for my pain that each and every morning when I heard that 'click' in my spine, my pain would start up and build throughout the day. As Forest points out, we're all conditioned to believe that pain must have a physical cause; it's just hard as heck to undo that psychological conditioning process, but that's what you have to do to reverse the TMS pain cycle.
  18. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    Absolutely agree with this. I'm sure a lot of people on here tried everything there is to try with the physical treatments and you got limited to no success with all of them. If it was truly a structural problem you would have seen a lot more benefit. Just like Forest said I tried all physical treatments for my eye problems and it didn't help. Even the doctor was stumped as to why it wasn't working.. he was like "this should be working" and when I asked him about a different pair of glasses and how confident he was that they would work he said "I was really sure that the ones I already prescribed you would work". In my opinion at this point, when you've run out of all physical options except surgery, the doctor can't give you any definite date as to when your symptoms will resolve (I got an open ended answer to mine about vision therapy where he said "We can keep doing the vision therapy but I have no idea when it will start getting better" it's time to look at another course of action.
  19. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Most physical treatments would help me for a week or two and then stop working or the pain would just move to a different place.

    I'm in the process of throwing out most of the stuff I bought for PT over the years...heating pads, massage stuff, special pillows, etc. I'm almost embarassed at how much of this stuff I accumulated over the years!
  20. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    exactly the physical treatments that are supposed to work for the problem you're diagnosed with usually dont do much of anything if you have TMS. a person that didn't have PPD/TMS would do the exercises and get better from them but somebody who is experiencing mind body syndrome wouldn't. sounds like this was your case as it was mine. i read that post by Alan Gordon and I plan on making out a list of things I did as physical treatments for this and why they didn't work and then reviewing them on a daily basis. I've made this list like 3 times now but dont go over them daily like I should. it takes constant repetition to let the unconscious know that the physical route is not the way to go because you did that already, you tried this, etc. that doubt usually comes back with thoughts like "oh maybe i just didn't do that exercise long enough", "maybe i didn't wear the glasses long enough for them to work", "maybe i just need to do another round of PT" these are the doubts that I think usually come up that try to distract you from focusing solely on psychological treatment. i dont know how many times as ive been going through TMS treatment now that my mind has tried to stray back to "oh maybe you didn't do this" theres lots of maybes, ifs, how come this happened? types of thinking going on. seems all of that is part of TMS/PDD.

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