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Could this old trick help?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by RobOptimist, Apr 28, 2023.

  1. RobOptimist

    RobOptimist New Member

    Hi guys, I introduced myself a few weeks ago but here's where I am now: been watching, listening and reading relevant stuff most days during that time (Alan Gordon is great!) and seeing definite improvement in my CRPS but now I'm hoping I might have stumbled onto something big! :)

    I remembered that in my early teens I used to have a party trick which was sticking a pin or other sharp point into my hand, pressing hard enough to make an obvious depression without breaking the skin. The pain didn't bother me, I just felt it as pressure. I had somehow learned to dissociate from it -- not sure if I'm using that word as a psychologist would or not. But that memory chimed with what I've been learning about pain as a sensation that's perceived as dangerous. Also, occasionally my CRPS pain morphs into non-painful sensation, though only briefly so far.

    So the obvious question is, should I try to resurrect that skill and apply it to my knee? As I type this out the answer seems equally obvious: why on earth would I not do that?! But I might as well post this anyway, it will be good to see what people here think about it.

    Edit: After a web search I believe "dissociation" is the correct term, but I'm now wondering about the implications of suggesting it could belong in the chronic pain toolbox...
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2023
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Absolutely, @RobOptimist -why not? TMS symptoms, after all, are the result of the primitive TMS mechanism in our brains taking over physical responses, right? So why not use your higher evolved brain to reverse the symptom or create a positive response?

    Isn't this what yogis have been reported to be able to do - like lie on a bed of nails? They are seen as highly evolved individuals.

    Or walking across hot coals - apparently a popular confidence-building activity at self-improvement seminars. I believe that this is classic mind-over-body control.

    I employ a version with some arm pain I sometimes get, where I meditatively visualize the other arm or shoulder which has no pain and suggest to the painful shoulder that there's no reason it can't feel like the unpainful shoulder. It works quite well IF I can maintain focus!

    I've long believed that mind-over-body awareness is a valuable skill in the TMS toolkit.
    RobOptimist likes this.
  3. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    One of the things that helped me most in @TG957 ‘s book about her CRPS recovery was her method of stretching her hand, and then for her dystonia, the running (and therefor) pounding of her feet. This really helped me open my mind beyond things that weren’t truly what I perceived as Sarno type recommendations - whatever can help you move forward while still embracing the psychological can be your own thing. Find whatever helps you, and the creativity within that has made my own healing more enjoyable. It puts you in control.
    JanAtheCPA and RobOptimist like this.
  4. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    @RobOptimist , I am of a firm believe that each one of us is unique as a person, with unique set of circumstances leading to chronic pain, therefore, each one of us has to find that most effective path to recovery. From my observations, there are (broadly) three pathways that lead most people to success:

    1. Classic Sarno Freudian approach
    2. Schubiner/Gordon neuroplastic approach to resolving emotional trauma and de-sensitization of the nervous system through therapy and/or meditation
    3. Powering through pain by dissociating from it. Joe Dispenza is the best known proponent of this method

    Each one of the above or any combination method is equally valid and should be considered by each chronic pain patient. I tried classic Sarno approach, and it was not working for me, but Schubiner/Gordon method worked for me, although I did not use any of the Gordon's or Schubiner's programs exactly and precisely. Although now, reading what @Cactusflower just said, I really used some kind of eclectic mix of #2 and #3.

    My advice to everybody is to be your own doctor and find your own path!
    JanAtheCPA, Ellen and RobOptimist like this.
  5. RobOptimist

    RobOptimist New Member

    Thought it was about time for an update. First, thanks a lot to @JanAtheCPA , @Cactusflower and @TG957 for your comments. I think this is first time on any forum I've had a reply from someone whose book I'd read! Tamara thanks in particular for your confirmation about dissociation, though Jan's "bed of nails" point helped too... :)

    I asked whether I should try to reconnect with that old way of dealing with pain but as it turned out I didn't really have the opportunity because I've had almost no pain! In fact I'd say for the last week there's been none at all. I still get a lot of odd sensations in the knee, and some are sort of borderline, which I think I'd previously have felt as pain, but I guess that could be true for all of them.

    So I'm now starting to think about writing a success story! It can't be a simple "this is how I did it" story though. I think the dissociation thing was the last straw but that's all it was and I didn't even have to practice it, really, it seems like just thinking about it was enough, but I guess the ground had been prepared.

    Can I just ask, should I leave it a bit before posting a success story? I'm feeling very good about things right now but a week's not a long time given the years that preceded it...
  6. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great news! Congratulations on your success! If I were you, I would wait for a few weeks. Extinction bursts may happen, and you need to establish some level of confidence and a method to deal with them. I used to get scared of them, and it took a bit of time to feel confident that I can get over each one of them. Even if some symptoms return occasionally, you should be very, very proud of your victory over so many symptoms!
  7. RobOptimist

    RobOptimist New Member

    I think I've maybe now had an extinction burst. I had a setback which I thought might be that, but then something else happened. After the pain free week reported above I got some pain one evening, which I put down to unaccustomed exercise a day or so before and/or being quite wound up at the time. It took a couple of days but I felt I was getting over that, the sensations transforming from pain to a sort of itchiness, when out of the blue the knee turned much more painful than in years. That was last night. This morning it seems to have gone back to being borderline painful or merely sensitive. Anyone have any thoughts?
  8. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yep, extinction burst it is. More may follow. Stay your course.
    RobOptimist likes this.
  9. RobOptimist

    RobOptimist New Member

    I think it's time for another update.

    Just over a week ago I reported my first extinction burst. Since then I've been dealing, or failing to deal, with continuing pain but also inflammation. Or at least what feels very much like inflammation though there's no visible swelling. During that time I forgot what this thread started with, dissociation as a TMS strategy, but I remembered this morning.

    Inflammation is a problem for me because I tend to feel that, whatever the cause, putting weight on an inflamed joint has to be bad for it. But in the past few days I've been feeling, even if that's true, on balance in this kind of case the benefits might be worth it. So today I realised this attitude is a good fit with dissociation and I remembered another thing, a comment of a hillwalking buddy way back, that some kinds of pain need to be "walked through". Then it struck me that in general terms this is what Wim Hof Method is all about, "mind over matter", and right away I took a cold shower. At this time of year, this time of day, all the windows are open anyway (indoor temp 20C/68F) and after the shower, body still damp and wearing only underwear, I made and ate breakfast, without feeling chilly at all. Then I noticed the knee pain had become an itch!

    It didn't last, I had a busy morning and by the time I got home it was back to feeling swollen. No doubt my imagination is working overtime but it's like swollen flesh is pressing into parts of the joint where it doesn't belong and I tend to worry that it gets damaged. My imagination was always too good in some ways! But due to events earlier this morning I'm much more hopeful again, looking to get back to the itch post-shower tomorrow if not before.
    JanAtheCPA and Cap'n Spanky like this.

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