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Bye-Bye knee pain, hello old painfree me!

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by HappyHiker, Jul 8, 2021.

  1. HappyHiker

    HappyHiker New Member

    Hi! I usually never post stuff on the Internet, but as this wiki played such an important role in my own recovery, I feel like I should tell my story here. Maybe there is a person out there who needs to hear exactly what I have to talk about, and if it helps just one person, it’s worth doing something outside my comfort zone I guess.

    I would like to stay as anonymous as possible, but just a few things about me: I am from Europe (non-native English speaker if you were wondering), in my late twenties, female, a maths teacher, lead what I consider a quite healthy lifestyle (no cigarettes, no drugs, little to no alcohol, healthy diet, regular exercise…) and love hiking in my freetime. I would say I am quite a normal person ;)

    Nearly exactly a year ago, I discovered this forum and it helped me get rid of some crippling pain issues that I had had for about 3 years, so I would like to use this one-year-anniversary to look back at these dark times that fortunately had a happy end for me.

    I will try to tell my story as chronologically as possible, but I am not really good at remembering dates and timelines, so it is not going to be as accurate as I would like it to be. Anyway: Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I have always been an incredibly healthy person – never had any worse illnesses than maybe a cold or the flu, never had to go to the hospital, had no allergies, nothing. What caused my symptoms to start was a hike I did with my father. Near my hometown, there is a like with a big mountain, and for some reason I really wanted to climb that mountain. So one weekend when I was home from university, my father went with me and we hiked up. It was about 1000 meters of elevation gain and not an easy hike, sometimes there were even cables where you had to climb, but we made it up to the top. When we had to go down, it was already getting a little late, and we had to hurry to make it down safely before dark, which was really stressful and I had to go faster over kind of sketchy pieces of trail than I would have liked to. The day after I had really sore muscles, after all it was the first hike after a long winter period in which I didn’t do much sport, so I expected that, but it was way worse then I was used to, it really hurt going down the stairs, and my knees felt a little weird. I started to get a little worried that maybe I overdid it in a way, and decided to get my knees checked, as the summer was nearing and I had plans to go on a hiking holiday with the family of my boyfriend soon. I got an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, and it went terrible. At that time I was already really worried that something was wrong with my knees, I had read online about patellar tendonitis and was quite sure I had it, and the doctor I went to showed no interest at all, looked at me briefly and said something like “at your age you can’t have any problems with your knees”, gave me a cortison shot in one of my knees before I could say anything (although both were hurting), left in a hurry and spent all in all maybe two minutes with me. So, after the doctors visit, I was more worried than before that maybe something was wrong with me, but the doctor didn’t realise it. I went on the hiking trip as planned, but on the first hike, which really wasn’t a big deal, on the way down my left knee started to hurt really bad, so that I barely could walk. The right one was ok but not great. I went to the doctor in this little mountain town, who suggested that maybe my patellar tendon was inflamed, and that I should maybe get an mri and some physical therapy as soon as I got home. I was really terrified – I loved hiking and an illness, that hurts with every step you take was the worst for me, and what stressed me the most was that I read on the Internet, that if you don’t give an injured tendon enough time to heal, it can flare up again and get worse and the problem can get chronic – my worst nightmare. Anyway, I went back to that stupid orthopedic doctor (in my country you have to stick to a doctor for a quarter), who instead of an mri sent me to do an x-ray (although there clearly was nothing wrong with my bones), and only after I insisted referred me to a physical therapist. I spent the rest of the summer resting my knee, walked on crutches during my summer trip to Malta, and started physical therapy, getting really obsessed about doing everything just right to get better soon. I was extremely scared about “overdoing” it before my tendon had “healed” completely, and even walking down stairs was a big challenge for me. I followed every advice on a website from a guy named Martin Koban, who seemed to be quite knowledgeable on the topic of patellar tendonitis, read everything I could about the issue, including medical studies and the newest scientific papers. In the winter, I was finally at a point were normal daily life was possible again, like walking short distances around town etc. I was still scared about doing more physical activity, and decided to take it slow and maybe in spring start building up my “sports”-activities very carefully, only gradually increasing my activity levels. So in spring I religiously started going on walks, up a very tiny hill in a park, and at the end I was kind of fine walking up there a few times in a row, so I felt like I had more or less defeated the problem. During the following summer and winter I was kind of fine, but was still quite scared of my tendonitis returning, so I did only very limited hiking. Then I moved to another region of my country to start working as a teacher. The region has lots of mountains, and I was looking forward to spending my freetime hiking, which I did, doing increasingly longer hikes, until one time the following summer when after I came home from a hike, I sensed a very familiar feeling in my knees and was very alarmed, but at the same time didn’t want to realise that maybe my tendonitis had come back. The next day I went on a run, hoping that everything would be fine, but after that, both my knees hurt in a way that I couldn’t ignore. I was devastated. Even just when getting up from a chair I had this kind of “tearing”, burning feeling in my tendon and it seemed like my nightmare of having chronic tendonitis and never being able to be truly physically active had come true. I went to see a doctor, told him my story, he at least took me seriously and prescribed physical therapy, as this had worked for me the last time. So, another summer of sitting on the couch, frantical googling in the hope of finding something that could help me heal, physical therapy, a trip to Japan on crutches, feeling depressed and on the verge to being suicidal. It sounds ridiculous, but I was seriously considering if I wouldn’t be more mobile if I had a wheelchair or amputated my legs (no offense to people for whom this is a reality, I know it is no joke, I was just desperate enough to envy everyone who had some kind of mobility). Winter came, and my knee pain decreased a little bit, although not as much as the last time, and my anxiety levels were still quite high. Next summer, same story: I tried to get used to doing more physical activity and was researching a lot about possible causes and treatments. One thing that I found and that kind of resonated with me was that some people said, these tendon problems could be because of some kind of malalignment or bad posture, so I tried so do every movement with the best posture possible, and thought that maybe my feet were the ones responsible for my problems. I read a lot about barefoot shoes, big toe-boxes, and decided I would buy a pair of altras, because maybe my toe position made my knees not be perfectly straight which strained them to much or whatever. In my barefoot shoe research I came across a guy who said you should be really careful when transitioning zero-drop-shoes (like altras), because you could get plantar fasciitis form them. Well, guess what: the shoes came in the mail, I wore them for a trip to the supermarket, and the soles of my feet started to hurt really badly. Again, I was terrified: I had managed to get plantar fasciitis in addition to my patellar tendonitis (which at that time didn’t cause me much of an issue, but was still very much in the back of my head, after all I had bought the altras to prevent a reoccurrence of my patellar problems). So now I had two “broken” tendons/fascialigamentthings in my body. I was incredibly scared and felt like there was something majorly wrong with me – after all, I had only walked to the supermarket, in my book, that’s as far away from “overdoing” things as it can get, and if that already causes me problems, there had to be an underlying cause that weakens my tendons. I went to the doctor for the feet pain, he prescribed some orthotics, but didn’t really help me in finding an explanation why at such a young age I was having all these inflamed tendons (/fascia). He checked for rheumatic causes, but didn’t find any, so it was orhotics and physical therapy again. Plantar fasciitis limited me even more than the patellar tendonitis did, every step was painful, I again started researching it a lot and followed every advice that seemed more or less scientifically reasoned – I wore shoes in my flat, even in the shower, tried sleeping with my plantar fascia stretched so as to not “retear any tears that had healed a bit overnight”, it was terrible. Then, when playing the guitar, even the tendons in my wrists started to hurt, and that was kind of the turning point for me. Until then, I always thought, if I only outsmarted my “injury” be putting the right amount of strain on it at the right time, I could make it heal and restrengthen it, but know I was convinced, there was something wrong, I only had to find out, what it was. My doctor had told me something like “you could just accept that your feet are more fragile than others and limit yourself to not do sports anymore”, but that was something I could not accept, before finding out WHY the hell my feet were failing me. I needed to have a reason, I needed to do the detective work. So, more research, more scientific papers, etc.
    Then, one afternoon, while I was on the bus to some kind of end-of-the-schoolyear-celebration with my colleagues (which I had to take instead of hiking a few miles to the restaurant were we were supposed to spend the evening like the other teachers did), I was googling as usually, but I must have used other search terms as before, and by pure chance I stumbled upon a website, where a guy was talking about how he healed his repetitive strain injury. I can’t find this website anymore, but I owe it my life. The way he talked about it was so different than all the other medical advice and desperate stories from fellow sufferers that I had read before. Of course there is all kind of “alternative-medicine-approach” stuff out there, but I always dismissed it as complete nonsense (which I still think most of the homeopathy/Chinese medicine/chakrabalance/whatever stuff is), but this was different. It explained the whole tms approach in a scientific way, that was acceptable for me – that my pain and symptoms were in a way psychosomatic, but that didn’t mean, they were not real, only, that the cause was not real or not what I thought it was. This was so eye-opening and something no doctor had even remotely considered – they were all either “oh don’t be such a crybaby you are making this up” or “oh my god yes this is serious be careful or you will suffer from it forever”. So, there was my solution, and my energy had completely shifted from being stuck in a hole of desperation to seeing finally some light at the end of the tunnel. The same day, I also found the tms wiki and sarnos book on amazon, I read a lot of the success stories here, especially the ones, that seemed similar to my own problems, and I read the reviews of sarnos book, and it all made sense to me. I think it took me about one week to make my symptoms go away, it was actually quite easy once I was convinced enough that it was ridiculous that I got plantar faciitis from walking a few steps in new shoes and rsi from playing a little guitar. In these days, I read sarnos book, did this online course that the wiki offers, listened to the mind and fitness podcast which helped a lot to calm my sometimes reemerging doubts and challenged myself to get back to my normal levels of physical activity. It took a bit of time, I did it all step by step, but eventually it all went away. I know see medical problems in a very different light than I did before this discovery. I have no idea if I ever had a real injury in my patellar tendon, maybe it was all tms in the first place, maybe the relapses were tms, I have no idea. I am certain that the plantar fasciitis was pure tms, it was more like a self-fulfilling prophecy, as I “knew” this could happen with the shoes that I bought (which, by the way, I now think is complete bullshit), the rsi thing in the wrist too. For a few months in this period I also had fructose intolerance (as had two of my close friends at the time), but it went away after a bit, and I kind of think this was all tms too. When journaling, I realized, that there were a lot of things in my life that stressed me, which I had always pushed away a bit (an orthopedic doctor who I saw for getting this shockwave therapy thing for the supposed plantar fasciitis, asked my, after I started crying out of desperation, if there was “something else wrong with my life” and I answered in tears that no, it was just my legs bothering me, everything else was fine – so I guess my brains strategy from diverting my attention from my psychological issues worked perfectly at that point), and that I had a lot of fear inside me, and probably also repressed anger – I am rarely openly angry with anyone, but I guess that means, I am angry internally, because I guess there is no such thing as “never being angry”. I did not really resolve any of my psychological issues, but now that I now I have them (even the ones I don’t exactly 100% know what they are) they don’t cause any symptoms anymore, so for me just knowing that I have some emotional issues that can cause pain in the body was enough to make them stop, because for me this is logical and I love logical explanations for stuff. I tend to be nicer to myself now because I realised, that I am really pressurizing myself into being disciplined and always doing the right thing and that the way I talk to myself in my head was actually not a nice way, now I try to be more understanding and soothing with myself, like I would be to a friend. Anyway, now I can hike as much as I want without being afraid of “overdoing” anything and I am just so relieved and grateful that I found tms, or else I would still sit on my couch doing nothing and being depressed, and now instead I have my life and most of all my well-functioning body back! Sorry for the long story, it is not easy to summarize it, if you have any questions left, feel free to ask!
    hawaii_five0 and jimmylaw9 like this.
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm so happy for your success and that you took the time to come back and share your story! Our numbers are growing. Your story will inspire others to give this approach a chance.
  3. mbo

    mbo Well known member

    Congrats HappyHiker !!!!
    You got it.
    Unfortunatelly the vast majority of TMS sufferers prefer to reject the "Sarno's way". So they can't reclaim a full life.
    You got it, YOU GOT IT !!!!
  4. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Congratulations and thanks so much for your detailed post. It is an amazing story, and I think the ramp up of symptoms is probably familiar to many people on here (for example how you got plantar fasciitis after a single walk in new shoes (!) because someone told you you might). Nervous system in hyperdrive, creating ever more symptoms. And I love that you were able to cure yourself so quickly, and without necessarily "solving" whatever emotional issues might be going on, but just by recognizing that they exist. Terrific success story!
  5. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    @HappyHiker: I do have a question: how much time was involved once you discovered Sarno, etc? You say the following:

    "I think it took me about one week to make my symptoms go away, it was actually quite easy once I was convinced enough that it was ridiculous that I got plantar faciitis from walking a few steps in new shoes and rsi from playing a little guitar. In these days, I read sarnos book, did this online course that the wiki offers, listened to the mind and fitness podcast which helped a lot to calm my sometimes reemerging doubts and challenged myself to get back to my normal levels of physical activity. It took a bit of time, I did it all step by step, but eventually it all went away."

  6. HappyHiker

    HappyHiker New Member

    Hi, it really took me just a few days/weeks, it wasn't that a long process for me. Although I have to say I had a lot of time on my hands to focus on the healing process and not be distracted by much as I am a teacher and school had just ended, so I spent the first weeks of my holidays reading the wiki, listening to the MindandFitness Podcast and doing a little more physical activity each day until I was really convinced I had found 'my' cure.
    I also have to say though, since I wrote this post, I developed a few other symptoms, which hasn't happened before. Mid July I was going on a long distance solo hike in sweden which has been my dream for forever, and the days before the start I trained a little bit with the heavy backpack on - suddenly my coccyx started hurting badly, although I never really was aware that this part of my body eveb existed. I attributed it to the anxiety involving the upcoming trip, and sure enough it went away after two days, just as myteriously as it had come.
    Now I am back home again, the trip went well, but I think I have developed tmj - I noticed it a few days ago, when yawning my mouth wasn't closing properly, it felt like the joint gets stuck somehow and has to shift and make cracking noises to close. Really weird. I am very inclined to believe this is just the symptom imperative, and my dentist told me today that I probably grind and clench my teeth a lot in the night and asked me if I had some stress recently, my jaw muscles are apparently kind of tight. It's just that I am not user to this sort of pain, it feels much more bone/joint related, so I might need some time to convince myself it is tms and find a way to make it go away.
    So, long story short, when I first posted my success story I felt my tms journey was kind of over, but it turns out, I am still in the middle of it. But at least my feet/knees didn't bother since a long time, so that is good.
  7. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Great, thank you so much. That is great that the knees and feet are better. I have heard that various manifestations of TMS can occur for anyone but are easier to overcome once you are aware of what is going on.

  8. PsychePsyche

    PsychePsyche New Member

    Wow, your story is so wonderful.
    mugwump likes this.
  9. mugwump

    mugwump Well known member

    A long one but worth reading! Thanks for sharing this story.
  10. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    @HappyHiker , congratulations on your success story! I volunteered to collect stories for the Thank you, Dr. Sarno! site. Dr. Sarno, unfortunately, passed away and will not see your post, but his family and many chronic pain sufferers would appreciate and benefit from reading your post. Would be great if you could PM me with the text (200-300 words) and photo (optional but desirable) and I will post it on the site. Thanks in advance!

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