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Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Alexandr, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    Hey Guys! I am so glad that I found this wiki and forum.

    My name is Alexandr and I'm Russian. I am sure my story will sound pretty much familiar here, but anyways I will post it :)

    Seven years ago, when I was 21, out of the blue my back started to hurt... Whatever treatment I followed didn't help me at all or at most gave me a temporal relief. I was diagnosed with degenerative process in the spine, hernias, mild scoliosis, etc. Initially my pain had a tendency to change its position: low back, thoracic region and neck an throughout the day it could rise from low back up to neck. Sometimes I had signs of sciatica as well. When I started working the pain increased substantially so at times I could hardly sit and concentrate on the work. I had to take several sick leaves from work, but resting in bed didn't seem to help.

    By now the picture has slightly changed: sometimes I have pain in the back and sometimes due to cholecystitis. They were so intertwined that occasionally it was difficult to say where was the pain - in the back or stomach. I had a treatment of mild stomach ulcers which eradicated HP but the pain persisted.
    The pain gets especially strong when I sit for a long time at the desk or in front of the computer, so I tried to avoid sitting as much as possible.

    A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon Sarno's book, read it and found many correlations with my history. Starting from the personality traits such as perfectionist, over conscientious and often a worrier... I had a tendency to generate a lot of anger in everyday life, but I kept suppressing it. Now I read all of the Sarno's last 3 books and studied the tms wiki. I am very thankful to all the people who contributed to the wiki as the material I found there allowed me to understand my real issues and suggested how can I cope with them. I started the structural program, read a lot of material on TMS, success stories, started using affirmations, self talk, journaling. I've ordered the Dr. Schubiner's book and will try to follow the program described in it.
    In general I feel better now. I completely accept that my problems are caused by emotional factors. Consequently, I stopped any physical treatment and exercises intended to strengthen by back. I started jogging almost every day and I have no back pain doing this. However, I still have back pain when I sit... I think this is a conditioned response, what do you think guys? I am trying to unlearn it, using affirmations.

    Thank you guys, you did such a great work! I am sure you helped a lot of people with psychosomatic illnesses, because the educational material plays a crucial role in the recovery.
  2. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Hi Alexandr and welcome to the forum:

    Sounds like you are moving right along! You are really doing the work required to overcome your TMS. Nowhere in your post do I see any doubt, and you've done really well on getting yourself back out there again. Running this soon is remarkable!

    Is sitting related to your work? I see that you said you took some sick days due to not being able to sit. Yes, affirmations will work, but also finding something to tell yourself that will diminish the pain at work. Tell the pain you know what it's trying to do - distract you - and you won't put up with it!
    Are you overcompensating at your job? Do you feel you need to do an "extra special good job"? In other words, are your perfectionist qualities coming out at work? Then perhaps this is why you have a tough time sitting.

    Dr. Schubiner's book and meditations are really a nice follow up to the SEP here. So I think once you get into that program, you may find yourself "there". In other words: you may find that you have found the issue with sitting and the pain will leave altogether.

    Good luck and hope your progress continues!

    Alexandr likes this.
  3. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Welcome, Alexandr! Sounds like you are doing really well. I found the structured program and journaling helpful too.
    ~ Veronica
    Alexandr likes this.
  4. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    Hi Beach-Girl, Veronica,

    Thanks a lot for your support!

    Now I am studying at the university and luckily do not have to sit a lot (max 4 hours a day), so I do not have much problems. But previous semester I spent doing an internship in a company and I had strong back problems exaggerated by sitting. I had pain also sitting in the tram on the way to work, so I avoided it. I really hope to overcome this issues before I graduate to be able to handle my job...

    Indeed, I noticed that often I feel like I do not do enough for my job (maybe it is really the case) so sometimes I worked on weekends or from home. And indeed I am trying to do my work perfectly, i.e. if I do something it needs to be perfect. Thanks to that I have quite good grades in the uni and manage to pass my exams from the first shot, but it may be the reason of the back pain as well... Now I'm trying to be less perfectionist about things and do everything casually, not trying to put too much pressure on myself.

  5. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    I have a friend who is diagnosed with myositis (it is muscle inflammation, an autoimmune malady) and she is not able to recover from it for already 10 months.
    Do you guys think it can be a variant of PPD? I did not find in the Dr. Sarno's book anything specifically about this desease, however he mentions that some of autoimmune diseases can also be equivalent to TMS...
  6. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Hi again:

    I think that some can be - but only from personal experience. I have a friend who is hyper-focused on her body and health. I know she has TMS, but still she has test after test (all negative) to rule things out (she's running out of things) so that she can say "aha! That's it!" - when in reality it's TMS in my opinion. She has read some of MBP by Dr. Sarno, but went right to the doctor so she wouldn't have to deal with her real issues.

    But this is just my experience. Can't say for sure about your friend.

    Alexandr likes this.
  7. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Alex:

    Sounds very much to me as if sitting is one of the programmed "triggers" that have become associated with TMS pain in your unconscious mind. For example, when I ride my road bike: No pain. When I walk uphill: Pain. No real logical structural explanation because when I ride uphill, I raising my legs up and press down the same as when I walk uphill. I know that reprogramming your triggers is a real hard nut to crack, but it sounds as though you're aware of that your problem is psychological, and, as Sarno points out, that's the necessary first step to getting better.

    Keep up the good work!

    Alexandr likes this.
  8. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    Hi MorComm, thanks for supporting my hypothesis! I have an impression that I get the pain while sitting because sitting is associated with my work (I am computer scientist and thus have to spend a lot of time sitting) and doing my work I put a lot of pressure on myself, hence the mind decided to create a symptom to prevent me from doing that. But that is just a hypothesis, what is going on really I can only guess.
    I also noticed that the pain started while I lived in dormitory with a guy who had constant back aches. That would correlate with the idea of back pain as a transmitted disease (I was quite athletic and never had back aches before). I remember also that time was quite stressful to me, because I hated the dorm (suppressed anger) and because of some other strong disturbing factors (huge study load & too much pressure on myself, etc.).

    By the way, do you have progress in unlearning your conditioned pain caused by walking?
  9. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Monkey see, monkey do! Just recently I realized that I had a herniated disk resulting in a long bout of back pain in 2001-2002 just six months after my mother died, but beginning when I inherited her house where my late father and mother constantly fought. Naturally, I avoided the place like the plague for most of my adult life. However, I also noticed that I had my major back attack in November 2001 right after I was talking to a guy from Serbian special forces, a Lieutenant Polovino, who used to have sudden back attacks while he was running, in particular during soccer matches when he was being quite aggressive. He had also been in combat in Serbia and I realize now probably had PTSD. Violent episodes seemed to follow him through life! But before I learned about back pain from his example, I'd never really thought about it or had any symptoms. Obviously, it's like Dr. Sarno postulates, back problems proliferate through society by example like a contagion. Just look at East and West Germany before the wall came down c. 1990. In the East, there were very low numbers of back pain patients. In the West, there were more. After the Wall came down, back pain rates in the former East Germany went up until they matched the rates in the West. The Easties must have been "learning" about TMS from their counterparts in the West. Or perhaps, the emphasis on the individual in capitalist economies was causing the same kind of mental stress among the formerly Communist East Germans? Don't know for sure. But it sure seems like Lieutenant Polovino's example sanctioned my own back pain. He also knew my late mother, so he was a kind of transition figure. Yes, your room mate could have put the idea in your head and coupled with the stress of school provided you with an example to emulate. Life is strange!
    Alexandr likes this.
  10. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    Thanks for your story MorComm, I'm very sorry for your mom...
    Indeed, reading the Dr. Sarno entirely changed all my perception of the world reality: large portion of the common diseases are emotionally induced and are "contagious", modern medicine is incapable of finding real causes, who would ever think that? I see why medical society ignores with such effort his and his fellows' work.
  11. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Contagion and chronic symptoms is very common. One of the classic examples is that drivers in Lithuania usually do not have car insurance. When they are in a car accident they rarely ever complain of Whiplash. This is the complete opposite in the United States, where every driver has car insurance and Whiplash complaints are extremely common. For more on the research check out our Annotated Bibliography.

    Alexandr, having your symptoms be in a place that affects your work is common. I was really into computer programming as well and developed severe pain in my wrists and hands. It was so bad I could barely type more then a few words at a time. This approach worked for me and I am now pain free. I would also suggest checking out Enrique's story, Brian's Story, and Hilary's Story. If I remember right, they all work in the tech industry and were able to recover.

    It sounds like you have the "TMS personality" of perfectionsim. Like you, I worry a lot about making sure everything is perfect. It can be really stressful. I'm still not too sure how much we need to change our personality, but I do think understanding what factors/issues/emotions developed our personalities is helpful. I think part of recovering from TMS is understanding how our past affects who we are today. Once you identify these things you should be on your way to becoming pain free.
    Alexandr and MorComm like this.
  12. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    Hi Forest! I had a thorough look at the research section and that is a lot of support of the Sarno's theory. I read your story long time before and I was amazed how the mind can play tricks with us... I will check out other stories as well, thanks! Have your RSI symptoms passed by the way?
  13. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Forest & Alex: This is of course only anecdotal (but what isn't?), but I think I wrote about that guy at the my gym before who developed tendonitis in his elbows, but only when he was playing a musical instrument. Of course, he's an award-winning high school band conductor in the Bay Area and that's his line of work. He's also had 4 divorces and a succession of trophy actress/singer GFs that he drives around in his little red (yes it is red!) sport car at 130+ mph I would guess to make them afraid and dominate them. Each picture perfect GF leads to a new heartbreak too. Well, he had two unsuccessful elbow surgeries plus PT, NSAIDs and ice. But working out and lifting heavy weights never caused him any pain whatsoever, only playing instruments like piano and sax. Everyone told him to lighten up and chill out and voila, the pain in the elbows disappeared in about a week. Obviously, there a direct connection between work, over-achieving at your profession, perfectionism and the development of TMS symptoms. For being such a nice guy, with a smooth, professional demeanor, the conductor certainly must have some repressed inner demons, such as fear of getting older (he just turned 40 and has a few gray hairs that he's forever talking about). I think I must have actually contributed to his realization, because when I said you had better look to underlying emotional causes, his eyes did open wide as if he fully understood what I was talking about and a couple of weeks later he was okay. I think his best friend, the high school math teacher also clued him, so he was hearing it from a lot of directions at once.
    Alexandr likes this.
  14. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Heya Alexandr - Yeah, my symptoms are gone and I am pain free now.:) The biggest thing for me was simply understanding that I didn't have a structural problem and could just get on with my life. Reading other people's success stories and forum posts really helped me gain that confidence and accept the diagnosis. I did of course take it one step at a time, but noticed that my symptoms never got worse when I was active. This started a sort of snowball effect where the more active I was, the more I believed in TMS, and consequently the more my symptoms improved.

    Reading stories like the ones I linked to really were the best thing for me. They made me feel like I wasn't the only person who was dealing with this stuff, and they were able to fully recover after having long term chronic pain.
  15. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    Hey Forest, I am really glad you overcame your symptoms!

    Could you please tell me, besides realizing what is the true cause, how did you manage to unlearn the pain caused by the computer equipment?
    Did you use some specific techniques? Did you stop avoiding working with the computer?

  16. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Alex: After I posted about that guy at my climbing gym with tendonitis in his elbows whenever he played instruments, it got me thinking about what Forest said about the relation between contagion and chronic symptoms (like TMS can be 'caught' like a virus from those around you). Well, of the five guys I used to meet at the climbing gym each Saturday morning five years ago, none are there today. As I first mentioned, the high school band conductor dropped out into a number of treatment modalities with chronic elbow tendonitis. I wound up with chronic lower back pain and sciatica in my left leg. And another one of the group, a former rock musician who now labors in a health food store, developed chronic knee pain and left our group. A fourth member of our Saturday climbing crew was a stay-at-home Italian mommy's boy with an alcohol and drug problem and he dropped out to go back into rehab. I notice now that each one of us was a perfectionist over-achiever with touchy ego problems and the environment we created among ourselves was competitive and back-stabbing in the extreme. The fifth member, the high school math teacher, who was insanely jealous of his 15 year old daughter, was having trouble with his foreign-born wife and likewise quit coming in on Saturdays. Oh sure, you'll say that 5 extremely competitive alpha males were engaged in athletics and got hurt, but it's hard to deny that three of the five came down with what amounted to psychogenic symptoms and dropped out. Seems as though we found each other because we were alike, interacted and created a toxic psychological environment, then developed various TMS symptoms that finally broke up the group. Or am I reading too much into this? Sure seems like we create our own 'heavens' and 'hells' (to quote Swedenborg), doesn't it?
  17. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    Hey MorComm,

    I like your story, it really illustrates the point! I'm thinking if someones conducts a randomized serious medical trial analyzing how back pain can be contagious, I bet no medical journal would want to publish that as it will be considered awfully unscientific :)) If we really consider this as a contagious illness, on the other hand, it should cause sharp increase in the incidence of this disease. It is arguable if we see that now.
  18. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, Dr. Sarno seems to think that the current lower back pain epidemic began about 30 years ago around 1980 and has been spreading ever since. He implies it's due to the emergence of the narcissistic, competitive 'me' culture of money-market capitalism, and I guess the repressed unconscious anger generated by the "I did it myself" type. Remember when CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) was all the rage? Between 1984 and 1995 CTS in the US increased over 400%. Seemed like everyone who worked on a computer got it. Only now, you don't hear about it as much, do you? The fad has passed. Now, everyone seems to have pain in the foot! I would think if more people were aware of how "catching" TMS is as a psychological complaint, its incidence would in fact decrease rather than increase. I think Dr. Sarno also makes the point that because TMS is being mistakenly treated as a physical complaint, it's actually increasing and spreading throughout the populations in Asia, Europe and North America (but certainly not in primitive aboriginal societies in New Guinea or the Andes!)
  19. Alexandr

    Alexandr New Member

    That sounds plausible. Interestingly, I do not remember hearing much of CTS in Russia, maybe it wasn't trendy :))
    Is there any real statistics on the increase of incidence in back pain during recent decades?
  20. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Don't think there are any hard statistics on the actual back pain rates. However, Dr. Sarno or Dr. Schubiner may be able to give you some rough estimates. That would be a very good post for the Ask an Expert Forum. I do know that lower lumbar pain and sciatica are very typical complaints in the developed world and don't seem to occur with the same frequency in primitive, tribal societies. One more disease without germs, one more disease of civilization! I think that bomber and fighter pilots returning to the US after combat during WWII seemed to have a high incidence of back complaints as do Iraq vets today suffering from PTSD. Of course, combat is extremely traumatic and probably causes the same bio-chemical changes in the brain (only much quicker) than developmental trauma from growing up in a conflicted family environment. What about Russian combat vets from the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict? You may be able to fill in some blanks there.

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