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Bertolotti's syndrome

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Bernard, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Bernard

    Bernard Peer Supporter

    I'm new here
    but not to Dr Sarno.
    I have been trying to put Dr Sarno's advice into practise for many years.
    I'm 39 and have been suffering from debilitating, constant back pain since I was 21
    As you can imagine I've had all kinds of investigations, tests, treatments etc. I have so far resisted any attempts to operate.
    Early scans showed up a partial sacralisation of my L5 transverse process - I really large bone protrusion that 'apparently' causes a pseudo arthritic joint with my sacrum, perhaps my illium too. It's been manipulated, injected, massaged etc - you name it. No change just expense and dashed hopes.

    Most practitioners I have seen pinpoint this L% transverse process as the problem but i gave up seeing anyone about this a while ago now. Pain certainly emanates from this area and down my leg and my flexibility is awful.

    I have all the traits Sarno describes - I am also obsessed with my pain and very guarded in all that i do.

    I few years back I tried to start dancing and running again (which I miss so much) and journaling etc and had some success. I started doing more - I was still sore but I was doing more.... Then we had children, they are still young and absorbing of all our time and, well it's an emotional journey too.... so the attention i gave to myself / my attempts at recovery wained.

    In the last few years things have got worse. Other stuff lining up....knee tendonitis, thumb tendonitis in particular.... so I'm confused......

    Is this all down to an imbalance centred around my 'deformed' L5 / Bertolotti's syndrome or is this really TMS?

    The pain and the constraints it places on my life have a huge impact on my happiness. Somewhat stuck and would really appreciate any advice or experience any of you have relating to my story.

    Many thanks in advance
  2. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    Hi Bernard,

    Welcome to the forum. Many people who have had difficulty being completely convinced that it is TMS have found it helpful to see a TMS doctor. There is information on the Wiki including a list of doctors by geographical area. Since one of the problems with TMS is all the focus we put on our "structural problem" (I am an expert at doing this), having a TMS diagnosis can be invaluable.

    Also, my story is similar to yours, and I have found the forum helpful in that other people with similar issues have healed. I find that kind of support priceless. Good luck, I'm sure you can heal.
  3. Lala

    Lala Well known member

    Please read Steven Ozanich's THE GREAT PAIN DECEPTION. It is an amazing book...Steven suffered for 30 years from horrible debilitating back pain (as well as other health issues)...he too was diagnosed with structural defects that the doctors supported with scans and xrays. He read Sarno and healed within 15 months, is now pain free, then he spent years researching and writing this book. For me, this book was a huge stepping stone in truly accepting and understanding TMS on a much deeper level than I believe even Sarno's books provide (I have read the Mindbody Prescription and The Divided Mind). Steven is also a part of this forum is you need to reach out to him. I agree with Terry, you need to see a TMS doctor, even if it means traveling far to do so.

    I am certainly not a doctor and can't diagnose you, but your situation (and personality) sounds a lot like TMS, especially since it is getting worse and you are suffering from tendonitus in other areas.

    I would also start doing the structured education program on this site. Continue to reach out and seek support from others. The first thing you need to do is confirm the TMS diagnosis and then really believe and accept it in order to heal. Best of luck and let us know how you are doing.
    Anna1 likes this.
  4. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Bernard and Welcome to the Peer Network,

    I am not familiar with Bertolotti's Syndrome, but I do know that there are quite a few diagnosis out there that are just TMS. You could try to ask your doctor if using a conservative treatment would do any harm to you. The one question I would look for is if the symptom has a clear pathological cause. If not there is a good chance that it is TMS.

    It does sound like you have quite a lot going on in your life right now, that could be setting the stage for TMS. As advised above, check out our Structured Program and read up on some other success stories. Just because you have had chronic pain for a long time does not mean you can't recover. I had chronic pain for about 18 years and I am now completely pain free. If I can do it, you can do it.
  5. Bernard

    Bernard Peer Supporter

    Hello there and thank you for taking the time to share views and experience.
    For general info Berolotti's is characterised by extremely large transverse processes on the L5 vertebrae. On one side (as in my L5) or both sides.
    These form an type of articulation with the sacrum/ilium. This articulation or joint is viewed as 'pseudo' arthritic - ie bone on bone and as such a pain source
    So the theory goes.... !

    My pain is tediously consistent - on the side of my large transverse process
    I do 'get' Sarno and as mentioned - I see myself in the characteristics described
    I've tried his books, meditation, The Presence Process by Michael Brown..... with some successes - ie more movement
    but not for a while now and I've backtracked so I need to get back on the horse :)
    I'll definitely check out Steven Ozanich's book and the Structured Program.....
    Many thanks again
  6. Anna1

    Anna1 Peer Supporter

    Bernard, have you tried psycho-therapy? And/or are you in the neighbourhood of one of the doctors that could diagnose you for TMS and maybe send you to a psychotherapist who works with TMS?

    Don't give up!!!!
  7. Bernard

    Bernard Peer Supporter

    Hi Ruth

    I have had some counselling but not by anyone who is TMS aware although they were totally open to the mind-body connection and we explored that.

    I stopped going a few weeks back (after seeing her for a few months) as i didn't feel like i was making progress

    I have seen someone who diagnosed me with TMS at a London show about back pain i attended.
    I live in South West UK and i don't think any of the psychotherapists listed are anywhere nearby - I wonder if there are any in the US who run phone sessions?

    I am waiting for Steve Ozanich's book to arrive from the US. I am struggling at the mo. Actually not just at the moment...... so hopefully this will get me motivated for +ve changes

  8. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    When a Doctor tells us something, even if thet are speculating, it gets imbedded in our brains creating such doubt. I had Scoliosis surgery 44 years ago. Almost every illness I have had, I have tried to blame on that surgery.

    I was having terrible low back pain over 10 years ago. I saw a Scoliosis specialist. He said I had to stop all bending which meant giving up gardening which I lived and breathed for. He did not tell me that the disc degeneration in my low back was no different than anyone else my age. He based his opinion on the location and pain. But he was the expert.

    I find my pain moves to various locations in my body where some "expert" has told me I need to be cautious about what I do. It creates doubt.
    Anna1 likes this.
  9. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Anna1 likes this.
  10. Anna1

    Anna1 Peer Supporter

    Hi Bernard, I might try to get a phone session myself some time. So thanks, Veronica! I live in Netherlands, here I haven't found anyone that believes in TMS yet..

    The only place that I was diagnosed on, is my left knee. Right now it's the only place where my pain is still persistent...

    I think I will start repeating the 12 principles daily again, now specified on my knee...

    Keep us posted, and take care!
  11. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

  12. Bernard

    Bernard Peer Supporter

    thanks you all for your experience and advice
    I'll try the skype route - can't believe i hadn't considered it before !
    All the very best
  13. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Bernard: Since you are familiar with Dr Sarno's works, you must have read about that classic experiment where a hundred patients with lower back pain were given CT scans and it was discovered that nearly 70% of them had spinal anomalies. However, when a hundred patients without lower back pain were given CT scans, MRIs etc. etc. etc., it was discovered that nearly 70% of them had spinal anomalies. The conclusion is inevitable: there is no demonstrated direct correlation between spinal anomalies and lower back pain. Dr Sarno does add that it was also noticed in these experiments that people with spinal anomalies were more likely to develop back pain later than those without such structural irregularities. He points out, I recollect, that what this suggests to him is that because the mind is aware of everything in the body via the central nervous system it tends to locate pain where such irregularities already exist. IOWs: You can have a back that looks really bad in a CT scan, and not have any pain whatsoever unless something else, something psychological, is going on too. So much for your "Bertolotti's Syndrome" diagnosis.

    As Veronica73 suggests above, it make be a good idea for you to contact a TMS therapist or better, I would think, a TMS physician, someone with medical authority to give you a clear TMS diagnosis that you have confidence in. Then, those nagging doubts about "Bertolotti's Syndrome" and traverse members etc. etc. wouldn't resurface in your mind to distract you and make your recovery more difficult.

    All the best.
  14. Bernard

    Bernard Peer Supporter

    Hello MorComm
    Thank you for your thoughts. I have read and re read the Sarno info around CT scans etc.
    It's amazing really - the money & effort placed in the MRI/CT advances i think to the detriment of sound patient analysis.
    And lots of suffering too.
    my Bertolotti Syndrome diagnosis has really stuck with me and I am struggling to move on.
    I have a strong family conditioning around back fragility from my mum who has always had, still has lots of problems
    I remember when I was diagnosed it felt like a life sentence/ falling off a cliff
    In my minds eye I can picture the anomaly - it's big. I've attached an image - it's not mine but best i could find online. My image is on loop with me.
    In my physical back the area is tender and awkward - it feels inhibited wrt movement. Everyone i have ever seen over the years always points to it as a arthritic pain source or that it is somehow weakening or effecting muscles operation
    My pain is not occasional. It's always with me

    I know that theory but am struggling with belief
    I also know that belief is vital to healing.
    All the best
  15. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    It sounds to me, Bernard, as though your mother's example, the idea that your back pain is somehow hereditary, and the Bertolotti diagnosis that are perpetuating your TMS pain symptoms. Of course, I'm not qualified to diagnose your condition and I can only offer advice on this forum. You'll notice though that Dr. Sarno does say that you have to throw out all your previous assumptions about the origins of your pain and any other diagnoses before you can cure your TMS. Otherwise, you just keep reconditioning yourself and perpetuating the syndrome. I think that having a TMS doctor tell you that your Bertolotti syndrome is only coincidental with your back pain would help you make a clean start healing your TMS.
  16. I know this post is old and long gone, but I've got Bertolotti's Syndrome too, it's real and it hurts. It's got nothing to do with tension myosotis or other brain pain, instead the pain is because of an extra long transverse process vertebrae pushing on your nerve roots at L4/L5 and S1/S3. Don't be fooled into believing you can't be helped, you can. Radiofrequency Ablation or surgery can help. I hope this helps anyone else confusing Bertolotti's Syndrome with TMS. If anyone's imaging shows a transverse process like the one above, get a diagnostic injection to rule it in or out. Thanks!
  17. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    If the pain is constant (doesn't vary) and is always located in the same place, it's probably physical. I'm no physician of course, but that image above sure looks like a piece of bone is intruding into the nerve root at L4/L5 (is it?). Without a medical opinion to the contrary, I wouldn't contradict your assertion about Bertolotti's syndrome.
  18. Thanks for your response. Yes, the extra bit of bone presses on nerve roots around the base of the spine and sacrum and yes, Bertolotti Syndrome pain is constant (when pressure is applied like when sitting or sleeping) and always in the same place with the same (sciatic) referal pattern. As I said, I know this post is old, but it might help someone who's being told that these things are incidental, to know that whilst they can be asymptomatic in many cases, they can also cause pain and most importantly can be treated. I am not trying to dismiss TMS, but rather reach out to other Bertolotti sufferers who have been told these things aren't problematic. It took 5 years and a gazzilion consultants to diagnose correctly and hopefully this information could shortcut 5 agonising years in limbo for someone else. I spent 5 years being told it was in my head and it was a god awful time. If you are in the UK, and have stumbled upon this post and have Bertolotti Syndrome, you should contact either Mr Robert Lee at the RNOH for surgical removal or Dr Sean White at The London Pain Service for denervation. These two people know about these things and can help you. Good luck.
    jessedas and BruceMC like this.
  19. hecate105

    hecate105 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Bernard, There is a pain relief clinic in Bristol with therapists that use Sarno's approach and understand and deal with TMS. Here are the details: http://bristolpainreliefcentre.co.uk/
    'Or contact on: 0117 3306820 (this will take you to the KJP clinics switchboard, please ask for the Bristol Pain Relief Centre), Or email at info@bristolpainreliefcentre.co.uk

    If you live outside the Bristol area we may be able to do sessions via Skype depending on your condition and history. Get in touch to find out if this is possible.'
    I hope this is helpful.

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