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Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is TMS (Full Recovery)

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by SAWDOG, Feb 14, 2022.


    SAWDOG Newcomer

    First is the exposition of my story. Lastly, I will say the best insights that helped me.

    Physical Diagnosis: Cubital Tunnel Syndrome/Ulnar Nerve Entrapment/Ulnar Nerve Subluxation

    I developed strange elbow pain during the summer of 2020. I attributed it to my calisthenics routine, which involved high repetitions of weighted and unweighted pushups and pullups. First, I tried to rest for a few weeks, but the pain persisted. This is when I started to obsessively google my symptoms. After some research I purchased a flex bar, which is effective against golfer's elbow (my pain was on the outside of my elbow, and I had been doing lots of pullups, so this seemed like the best diagnosis). I did the flexbar exercises religiously but nothing changed. I noticed the pain was kind of like what the internet said golfer's elbow was but also, I got shooting pains like hitting my funny bone down from my elbow to my fingers. More googling and I discovered cubital tunnel syndrome otherwise known as ulnar nerve entrapment. This is similar to carpal tunnel but at the elbow and affecting the ring and pinky fingers rather than the thumb index and middle. It affects the ulnar nerve aka your funy bone. At this point, I saw an orthopedic surgeon, who suggested I wait a little longer to see if it went away on its own. If not, he said he could do an ulnar nerve transposition to reroute the nerve. It was supposed to be an easy surgery. Still, this freaked me out and I thankfully decided to wait.

    I stopped exercising for the rest of the summer and the pain went away. In the fall, I decided it was all behind me and started lifting. Things were going smooth, until one day I curled a heavy dumbbell and all the pain came back. This triggered a horrible downward spiral that lasted for about a year. I would google my symptoms over and over reading the same search results I had read the day or the hour before, click through pages and pages of any forum where cubital tunnel was being discussed, look up different treatment options. The pain level went up and down, but I always felt it.

    In this time, I developed ulnar nerve subluxation. I could feel the nerve click over my elbow when I bent it, and this would send pain shooting down my arm. The pain moved around to different spots in my elbow. I thought that if I didn't have this problem, everything would be great like an extreme version of when you just want to breath but your nose is stuffed. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I isolated myself severely for months, probably the worst thing I did, and covid life only enabled this behavior. At my most hopeful, I would think maybe I can live mostly normal, but I'll have to put up with a lot of pain. At my worst, I legitimately thought life would be better off with just the one unaffected arm. I tried all kinds of stretching and strengthening routines. I bought a flex tend glove and did the 9-week program. Then a "Powerball". All the while, I constantly monitored how my elbow felt. I could not stop bending my arm to see if the nerve would still snap and to see if the pain got better or worse. I got my cubital tunnel diagnosis confirmed by and EKG and the doctor was prepared to operate.

    Even with the EKG, I had my doubts about surgery. There was no good reason why the nerve was getting caught up or started snapping. It just was

    Desperate for a solution, I found Dr. Sarno's books. Unfortunately, it wasn't an instant fix but they worked and my condition improved. I read and re read the Mind body syndrome. I read Steve Ozanich's' The Great Pain Deception. I read the TMS wiki and listened to TMS podcasts. I started working out again and journaling. Today, I feel great 99% of the time. Sometimes, I will still have my doubts and feel a little something. This makes sense considering I spent about a full year of my life by myself conditioning myself to believe I was ruined.

    My Insights:

    Accepting TMS Framework
    TMS has a Freudian framework. This does not mean you have to accept all of Freud's thoughts and teachings to accept TMS. Say what you will about him and his ideas, but Freud for sure got one thing right. Humans have an unconscious mind that affects our moods, feelings, emotions, and physical bodies. How it works is still up for debate. After Freud, this work was taken up by Carl Jung and others. Today, it is the field of depth psychology. I suggest looking into this if you want a greater understanding of the capability of the mind to cause physical symptoms. Fair warning, this could be an anxiety inducing rabbit hole of its own if you really want to go deep into it, but that's not necessary for this purpose.

    I only considered TMS as a last measure. I think this actually helped me. I searched and searched for alternative diagnosis and tried many different therapies. Yet, non worked. The rationale for surgery was also pretty poor from my perspective. TMS made the most sense and the knowledge that I'd considered all the alternatives allowed me to accept it

    For me personally, I couldn't just believe it was mental and be done with it. I needed to see what this mental block was to really believe it was causing such a noticeable physical problem. For this I took to journaling - mostly about fears, insecurities, anxieties, regrets, plans, grudges. Be totally honest. I was very surprised at some of the things I was holding onto and feelings I had been ignoring. Everyone has them if you're really being honest. It's cliche and harder than it seems but steel yourself and face what's in there.

    This is necessary. Putting your money where your mouth is in terms of the TMS struggle. The pain was strong on every rep and I feared I was damaging myself more when I got back into lifting. I kept telling myself that if I'm convinced it's TMS then this fear doesn't make sense. I did try to avoid the snapping by limiting range of motion, but I didn't freak out when it happened. Now my elbow rarely snaps and I have normal range of motion after gradually pushing it.

    Is There a Psychical Component?
    A legitimate physical issue could be a trigger - For example, maybe I really was overworking my elbow from the pullups which caused my nervous system to send pain signals but because of the highly agitated state I was suppressing the pain response got stuck on "on" even if the original reason for the pain was gone.

    Maybe this is not the dogma, but I do think bad body mechanics exasperate the issue. Bad body mechanics like TMS cause tension. Maybe this tension gives TMS a springboard. At the very least it increases stress. I fixed my anterior pelvic tilt, forward head posture, and rounded shoulders after making some good initial progress with the Sarno books. Doing this gave me more confidence in the TMS diagnosis. After all it couldn't be my posture. It also got me moving and made me feel generally better, which helps.

    I hope this will help people. Probably the only good thing that came out of my obsessive googling was this thread which documents someone else's experience with cubital tunnel and TMS. He also recovered

    Help...Ulnar Nerve Entrapment - Bodybuilding - Forums - T Nation (t-nation.com)
    brecar92 and hawaii_five0 like this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I find this to be quite valid, @SAWDOG! I revere Dr. Sarno who I believe literally saved my life, but I'm also not a blind follower of the dogma and I believe in treating your body properly in conjunction with healing your mind. Focus and intent are key. And in this work, there are many different paths to recovery.

    200% agree! Writing while being completely honest with yourself is incredibly powerful, revealing, and ultimately freeing. I talk about this every chance I get.

    Congratulations, and thank you for the post and the link!
  3. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Did you overcome your pelvic tilt, shoulder and forward head using only the TMS approach or did you also use physical means?

    I ask because these are just some of my symptoms and are currently really challenging me again.

  4. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Amazing story! Congratulations on your recovery! Would you like to have a short version of it posted on this site? http://www.thankyoudrsarno.org/ (Thank You, Dr. Sarno)
    It is so important to let the world know that cubital tunnel syndrome is TMS? I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, and it was, too, TMS! You can DM me your short story and I will post it.
  5. QualityAssured

    QualityAssured New Member

    I'm just starting my journey with symptoms similar to yours. Your story gives me great hope!

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