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Chronic Chest, Shoulders & Upper back pains| Hypochondria

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Shajarcito, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. Shajarcito

    Shajarcito Peer Supporter

    Hello there,

    Nice to meet you, everyone. I have been suffering from upper back pain, chest, and shoulders pain for about 4 months yet the specialists don't know how to diagnose my syndrome. The pains usually wake me up at nights and in the morning. Fatigue and anxiety are also symptoms and my doctor assumes I have CFS. Blood tests, EKG, chest x-ray, CT of the spine are all fine as well as the results of gastro-endoscopic tests. The last Rheumatologist who checked me believes I don't have any systemic inflammation in my body, neither Fibromyalgia so my somatization remains unexplained.

    After reading Dr. Sarno's book, watching some TMS stuff on Youtube and journaling I think TMS is my case. My personality resonates with that of TMS: I'm a perfectionist, competitive person who tries to be nice to everyone. I have also had a mental breakdown after failing to receive a full scholarship for my PhD studies abroad and this was happened few months before my symptoms showed up. I can't work right now because of the pains and fatigue and I'm reconsidering my career. I Have started an online professional course in SEO hoping that my pains will be better after finishing the course so I could go back to work.

    As hypochondria is one of my characteristics I can't be totally convinced with the TMS diagnosis. I'm still afraid I have one of the versions of Spondylitis (systemic inflammation of the spine) which can explain my night and morning pains and other symptoms better than any other syndromes (by being 34 years old fellow I also fit with the statistics of Spondylitis) and I'm going to see another Rheumatologist considering this possibility.

    Meanwhile, I discovered an interesting thing. Since I got familiar with the symptoms of Spondylitis I felt also lower back pain and heel pains. Is this a proof for TMS or it is just a coincidence that the inflammation moved to other Spondylitis-type areas in my body during these days?

    Generally speaking, if realizing TMS is a process for mostly everybody it is really a big deal for those who have hypochondria. Each time I'm willing to accept that I have TMS there is a fear from a systemic disease that stops me from moving forward with the healing. So what kinds of techniques or tips are suggested in this case? I mean beyond journaling and practicing the regular materials in the Structured Educational Program.

    Many Thanks,
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    If the SEP isn't doing it for you, you might need more rigorous intervention, because what is happening is that you're still allowing the fear messages from your primitive brain to take over and control your thoughts. You have to learn to fight back and replace those messages with constructive thoughts that will allow you to progress. But we are wired to be negative and fearful, and that is very difficult programming to overcome - it also requires a high level of mindfulness to do so.

    Try this audio program: Meditations To Change Your Brain by Richard Mendius MD, and Rick Hanson, PhD. Dr. Mendius is the neuroscientist who explains how our brains are wired to be negative, and Rick Hanson is the practitioner who guides you into ways to reprogram that wiring. Don't worry - there is a lot of lecture and learning material, it's not just meditations. My local library carries the program, but I purchased it (several years ago!) as a download from SoundsTrue.org - they usually have sales or a first-time discount to offer.
    HattieNC likes this.
  3. s.jp67

    s.jp67 New Member

    I am also a huge hypochondria. What has helped me is to stop seeking reassurance and accepting the thoughts and anxiety. I used to freak out and google for hours a day or go to a doctor every other week to try and solve and figure out was wrong with me. Giving this up was a huge challenge and my anxiety increased at first because the reassurance helped in the short run, but eventually over time after doing it less and less the anxiety has gone down a ton. I would recommend you stop going to doctors all together. I'm sure you have had every test under the sun down and if they haven't found anything by now you are fine and have TMS. I know in these moments your mind will hang onto to doubt though and go "what about that rare disease, none of the test have ruled that", but if you continue to go down that path there is always another and another rare disease to rule out. It is a never ending cycle in which you will consistently feel terrible.

    Another thing that has helped is accepting the fear in pain instead of being in a constant fight with it. It was a part of Unlearn Your Pain by Howard Schubiner that lead me to doing this. There was a part of the book were he mentioned that the symptoms were like a bully. What gives a bully power is by getting frustrated by it. The way to beat a bully is to stand up to him or ignore him completely and to stop getting upset and arguing with him. I implemented the latter overtime and accepted that maybe there was something wrong with me and that I would never get better, but I didn't care anymore. I wasn't going waste my whole life away letting it control me. I was going to move forward with my life with or without the symptoms and make the best of my situations. And when I took up this attitude my symptoms began to improve dramatically.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think all of us are a bit hypochondriatic... that nagging fear is just part of the deal. "But what if...?". And that symptom change on you.,... that's the 'Nocebo' that Sarno spoke of. We are all vulnerable to suggestion and TMSers maybe extra-so. I went to the emergency room with chest pains a couple of times in the years before my last stand with pain. First Panic attacks and later acute pain...which in retrospect was arm/nerve pain ...came the night a band member quit like 72 hours before a very important show (coinki-dinks?)

    Chest stuff is of course always scary and needs to be rules out, but you've done that so....

    it gets better and the voices do eventually shut up. Like s.jp67 said sometimes you gotta stand up to the bully (great metaphor)
  5. Shajarcito

    Shajarcito Peer Supporter

    Thanks you all for the support and recommendations.
    I will try out the materials in order to overcome/accept the fears from diseases.
    Yet, I still have an unsolved issue related to this topic:

    All TMS exports agree that before starting any program it is important to disprove any serious disease.
    That means seeing doctors, physicians, specialists and taking tests as necessary.
    However, I believe that even for people with no hypochondria it remains unclear how to distinguish between two kinds of pains:
    pure TMS pain and structural pain affected by the mood/mind.
    The most relevant references for that are of-course Autoimmune diseases which known as mind-body connected,
    and in my case- Rheumatic syndromes such as Arthritis or Spondyloarthropathies.
    While other series diseases (cancer, aids ect.) as well as short-term diseases like pneumonia or influenza can be objectively found sooner or later
    chronic rheumatic syndromes are being diagnosed subjectively.
    Fibromyalgia and CFS are obviously the first examples for that (and I'm aware of the TMS explanation to these) but also some Spondyloarthropathies which are silent at first and include structural damage to the body later on (Ankylosing Spondylitis).
    For instance, the first rheumatologist I saw told me that "it is all in my head" but the last rheumatologist told me it could be Spondylitis because of the nocturnal pains in my back and chest though its not full active now..
    He recommended to see him once in while just to reassure this status.

    So, I have no doubts that my pain is related to my mindset/mood and even caused by it.
    But the question is how could I know whether it is a direct mind-body pain (tms) or a kind of undiagnosed structural pain that becomes worst when I worry or sad?
    As long as this question stay open for me I cannot achieve a full healing from my symptoms..
  6. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Courage doesn't mean no fear. It means be scared and doing it anyways.

    this quote; " As long as this question stay open for me I cannot achieve a full healing from my symptoms.." means you will never get better. We ALL had doubts and anxiety regarding the symptoms. That is part of the 'condition' if you will. when we check with a competent doctor, and they give us a clean bill of health (sans structural BS) it's time to GO! Do the work.

    Diagnostic tools and Doctors with speculative theories are ENDLESS... you will run out of time and money before they run out of speculations and ponderings.

    Time to GO
    MWsunin12 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    You are WAY over-thinking and over-analyzing this and I agree with @Baseball65.
    They are the same mechanism. Don't get bogged down in meaningless details. That's just your fearful brain keeping you distracted and stuck.

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