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Day 1 - Struggling with crippling hip/lower back pain

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Eddie, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter


    My name is Eddie, I'm 20 years old and I have come to realise that I have been suffering from TMS for over 12 years. A very depressing realisation, albeit a realisation that I hope will cure me of my 'symptoms' forever. Since I can remember, I have suffered various manifestations of TMS- including headaches, excessive sweating, asthma, allergies and mild, random acne attacks.
    I read Dr Sarno's Healing Back Pain book in December 2012. Many TMS sufferers seem to say that they saw themselves on every page- this was very true for myself and I finished the book in about 3hrs. I was CONVINCED this was my problem. I had seen my chiropractor and had an MRI done that came back with a bulged disc L4-L5. He treated me for about 5 weeks with mild success before I read Dr Sarno's book and therefore cut ties with him.
    The day I finished the book I made an appointment to see the Doctor. I brought with me the book and discussed the evidence I found within myself that I am in fact suffering from TMS. My Dr was very supportive and ordered a blood test and referred me to see a Psychologist- Both of which I haven't gone and done yet.
    I noticed a significant reduction in my lower back pain after reading Dr Sarno's book. The noticeable, day to day pain was completely gone but I still had sharp pain if I tried to bend over with straight legs or pick something up without bending my knees. Conditioning possibly? I would always gauge my back pain by trying to touch my toes. If I do try and touch my toes it is extremely painful and I can only get about as far as my shins!
    After a couple of weeks I noticed some pain in my left hip. This pain eventually increased and then a full blown flair up occurred right before new years that has been persisting for the last week. The pain is very sharp and occurs after getting up from bed or lying down for extended periods. This pain is even worse due to the fact that it is persistent due to walking. I cannot work around the pain like I could with my lower back. This relapse is proving very hard to manage and I need help!
    The pain is causing me immense mental stress due to work and not being able to do things I love such as surfing. I have had sessions where I could run relatively pain free but these are rare. I am trying to remain active but the hip is really like a heavy chain strapped to my leg, preventing me from doing my best.
    I am reading everything I can on the TMS Wiki and have started the educational program to help cure my pain. I am also journalling.
    Things I find effective in reducing the pain;
    1. Telling myself that I am 'pain free'.
    2. Thinking psychologically not physically
    3. Breathing
    4. Reading supportive material on TMS Wiki
    5. Re-reading Dr Sarno's book
    Thank you for reading my story and I hope to contribute as much help and advice to other TMS sufferers as I begin my journey into a pain free life.

  2. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    You go Eddie. Talk about lots of insight.

    Your mind knows you are getting ready to start the journey. it is trying to distract you from moving forward. Similar thing happened to me.

    I was planning to start the program when I got back from a trip. The day i got back I had diarrhea, nausea, a headache then I realized my mind was creating this distraction. Stand back..I'm startin.

    I have the same disc problem in my lower back. I have no pain anymore.

    You are on you way. Sandy
  3. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    You are an inspiration to me! I truly wish I had your insight when I was your age.

    I'm 37, and after reading Dr. Sarno's book (last week) The Mindbody Prescription I realized that I have been suffering with TMS since I was probably about 6 or 7 years old. Headaches, constant clock-work type bouts of bronchitis, and my mind manifest its issues as depression and anxiety decades before it started the physical pain.

    I notice you mention having read the book in 3 hours. I did the same thing. I was so convinced I had found the "it" I've been seeking for so long that I couldn't put it down. My noticeable pain reduction only lasted about 12 hours. I started the education program and looked at the first 4 days in just over an hour thinking the faster I worked through it, the faster the pain would be gone. I suspect this is probably pretty common in people who have been hurting in one way or another for most of their lives. We've searched for so long, trying to figure out what "it" is and "fix it" that our excitement takes over and we jump in head first. I reminded myself that there must be a very good reason for the education program being arranged as it is over its time span and convinced myself to be patient with my healing. As a very wise person reminds me on a regular basis, "you didn't get this way over night, it's highly unlikely that you will heal that way either".

    I decided to re-read The Mindbody Prescription, consciously trying to read it slower this time. Part of that decision was thinking about the possibility that perhaps reading it so quickly the first time didn't allow ample time to truly process the information, and the other part was back to my impatience at waiting for my new library card to be able to get another book. Possibly you might benefit from this as well.
    Jilly likes this.
  4. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Welcome, Eddie!

    Pain does move around as you heal from TMS so it makes sense that as your back feels better, a new symptom like hip pain might pop up for a short period of time.

    It's great that your doctor is supportive of this work and that you are starting therapy and reading info on the wiki.

    Glad you are here and hope you are back to surfing very soon!

    :) Veronica
  5. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter

    Sandy, Leslie and Veronica

    Thank you so much for your replies and kind words of support. They really do mean a lot to me.

    I'm onto my 3rd day of the Structured Program and am experiencing slight improvements. I do however struggle with a few rapid 'jolts' of intense pain. These basically strike my left hip after I've been sitting. The first few steps are excruciating and then afterwards the pain tends to reduce to a dull annoyance.

    I'm wondering if this could be due to conditioning? I have been treating it as a result of conditioning but I am yet to make any real improvements in pain levels after I get up from sitting, laying or sleeping.

    Also my flexibility in terms of leaning over to touch my toes or pick something up is absolutely gone. I can't get my hands past my knees, let alone anywhere near my toes!
    This really does frighten me as the pain is so intense in my hip and lower back when I try to touch my toes.

    Has anyone else experienced this? And if so, could you eventually touch your toes again?

    I have also re-read Dr Sarno's book Healing Back Pain but haven't purchased the Mindbody Prescription just yet. Would it be beneficial to purchase more books to reinforce TMS into my brain?

    Also just to let you all know a little more about my TMS-

    My first pain inducing TMS episode was after a gym workout one day in mid 2012. About 2hrs after I left the gym my back seized up and shoulders were in intense pain. I went to the Physio afterwards and was treated for 6 weeks which helped a bit. The pain still lingered around my left shoulder. I am sure this was my first instance of TMS.

    I went to Indonesia surfing and the pain in my shoulder lingered a bit then disappeared as I started to feel my lower back ache towards the end of my trip.

    Eventually my lower back pain was so bad that I went to see the chiropractor for about 6 weeks to little aid.

    Thanks again

  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, Eddie, I can remember when it was just that bad for me a year and a half ago. Couldn't stand up and put my pant legs on without triggering my lower back pain, which kept increasing all day long and tapered off only at night. The whole thing is not to get conditioned by your programmed pain patterns to accept them as anything but psychological. You need to do that to break the power they have over you. I'm a lot, lot better now after doing the 37-day SEP (structured education program) available on the TMSWiki. I also did the sequence of exercises given in Unlearn Your Pain by Dr. Howard Schubiner. I personally like the meditations on the CD included in the sleeve. At least I can touch my toes now without any pain. But I've healed slowly but persistently from when I first read Dr. Sarno's Healing Back Pain maybe three and a half years ago. You can't really predict the time TMS healing will take; varies from individual case to individual case. You may heal up a lot quicker than I am doing (and even now there are distinct set backs once in a while) or it may take you longer. You shouldn't really put a date on it and monitor the process constantly because that's just one more thing contributing to your stress.

    You sound like you are quite "mindful" of the relationship between your TMS symptoms and underlying emotional issues. If you're already that aware, I would imagine that you will improve rather quickly. Let's hope so!
  7. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Hi Eddie,

    Although some poeple do read the books and get pain-free immediately, for many others (including me) it's a slower process. Of course no one wants to be in pain, but focusing too much on timing can paradoxically slow down healing.

    As far as the reading goes, I read and re-read Mindbody Prescription daily for about a month. I don't think you have to read everything on TMS--our TMS personality makes us want to leave no stone unturned, and yet we really don't have to work it that hard. You might find all you need is to read Dr. Sarno's books. There is also tons of great information on this website.

    :) Veronica
  8. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, as Veronica points out, Eddie, there are a lot of resources available to you on this site and the TMS Wiki. Lots of videos, lots of Webinars, lots of personal recovery stories. Many people find the recovery stories really helpful because of the perspective they provide about their own TMS condition.

  9. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    Hi Eddie, and welcome to the forum. Great comments from everyone above. I had the same experience with lower back pain and bending forward, and of course I was afraid to even try, which made my legs tighter and tighter. If we don't use it, we lose it! TMS professionals recommend getting back into activity. So what helped me with that specific thing was lying on my back and gently beginning to stretch the legs in the direction of my head. It felt great, and my back felt fine. Now, after doing TMs work, I can bend down and touch my toes, but that exercise kept me active in the meantime. Cheers, Terry
  10. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone

    Thanks for the comments

    I'm onto day 5 and am feeling a bit less pain generally but my left hip/buttocks and leg seize up with intense pain after sitting or laying.

    The pain is so intense and is really worrying me. I work long hours in construction and this wouldn't be helping.

    Would anyone recommend seeing a physio for stretches to help loosen up muscles or would this contradict my TMS treatment?

    I'm doing my best to stay positive and read and learn as much about TMS as possible. I hope for a breakthrough soon!
  11. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    To oversimplify, Eddie, it seems like what you have to do to stop the TMS pain is to learn some strategy for not repressing negative emotions into your unconscious mind. The pain symptoms are a strategy to distract you from unpleasant emotions you keep pushing down. When you can face those unpleasant feelings and see how they operate in the clear light of day, they lose their rationale for existing and persisting. The sooner you manage to stop the process of emotional repression, the sooner your TMS pain symptoms will, hopefully, disappear entirely or at least reduce enough to become bearable. Easier said than done, right? But if you begin to recognize and acknowledge the connection between psychological triggers and the onset of pain, you can step in to the process and redirect, reorganize it into a more positive way of experiencing life.

    You might not have any big "breakthrough," but you could reach a turning point that you'll recognize later as an important step in your recovery. It can be subtle. Your impatient mind may think you haven't improved and that you're really not getting anywhere and it's lousy for sure. But three months later, you'll look back and say, "Oh, I was already much better than I used to be 2 months before then". I can remember three months ago at the gym still limping up the stairs to the weight machine area, and bitching all the time that I wasn't improving. Only tonight I climbing the stairs fast with no thought of a limp. What I'm saying is that you'll be blinded in the short term by your desire to monitor your progress and rush on with your TMS cure; it's only when you're not obsessing about your pain that you can get a more go-with-the-flow attitude that occurs when you're making real progress. My experience was that I could feel improvement in my body before I noticed in my mind.
  12. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter

    Hi Morcomm

    That last post was really inspiring, thank you.

    I understand completely where you are coming from. I have moments where I forget about the pain and don't stress over it and I seem to function seamlessly. The problem I have now is that I experience very bad pain after getting out of bed and putting pressure on my left leg. The pain is so intense that its impossible to forget it and therefore I start my day in a negative mindset due to the intense pain.

    My dad is a Dr and is worried obviously that something is structurally wrong. He would like me to get another MRI or CT of my hip and see an orthopedic surgeon.

    Would this be appropriate to help rule out anything actually structural influencing my pain? I am convinced its TMS but have not had a specific MRI on my left hip to rule anything out.
  13. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    Hi Eddie,

    One idea might be to see a TMS doctor. They would look to rule out anything that might be structural, while being aware that TMS might be the issue. The problem with more scans and MRIs is that they might show something that is there, but is not actually causing your problem. There has been a significant amount of research showing that many people without pain have herniated discs, stenosis, pinched nerves, arthritis, spondylolysis, etc etc. At the same time many people with pain have no indicators of structural damage. The conclusion is that the diagnoses doctors give people in pain are often coincidental and not causal.

    As for your father, it is hard when people in our environment are reinforcing our fears. It's pretty natural for your dad to be concerned, and perhaps a proper diagnosis of TMS would help allay his fears. In the meantime, perhaps you could either show him some of the TMS research, or even be more cautious about sharing the problem if you feel he is not part of the solution.

    There is a list on the main wiki of TMS physicians, perhaps there is one near you. Meanwhile, take a few deep breaths :) There are many many people on this forum who have been where you are (and worse!) who have healed and are leading happy functional lives, and who are happy to support and care about you.
  14. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter

    Hi Tarala

    I did have an MRI done on my back a few months ago that came back with an L4-L5 Disc Bulge. My lower back isn't causing me as much pain in general now due to an overwhelming pain coming from my left hip. I know that the MRI will probably come back with a structural problem and cause me to rethink TMS and therefore halt my recovery.

    I am hesitant to show my Dad TMS material as I think he would probably write it off as placebo etc. Sarno acknowledges the inability or inertia for Dr's to recognise psychological problems as reasons for physical pain and I think my dad would be a perfect example of this. o_O

    I am located in Sydney, Australia. Does anyone know of a TMS doctor in Sydney? I know there is one in Lismore and Melbourne. I don't really feel comfortable doing a Skype Diagnosis and would much prefer a face to face consultation.

    Thanks again for everyones support.

  15. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    Hi Eddie,

    I'm in Brisbane. I think the doctor you are referring to in Lismore is probably James Alexander? He is a psychologist, not a medical doctor. A TMS psychologist can be of great help, but if you are struggling with being sure it is TMS, you probably want a GP. You mentioned one in Melbourne, but I've never seen him on the list. If there is one, perhaps he/she would be interested in being on the list? I think you are right too about Skype, as they would want to see your scans, etc.

    I've never seen a TMS doctor either, and of course had the usual concerns that maybe in my case it is "real." In the end, I decided that since everything (and I mean everything) else had failed, I would act as if I knew for sure, and see what happened. This has been really effective, so now I feel more comfortable with the diagnosis. I've been at it for about three months, but had pain for twenty years. I'm about 90% free of pain, but still get flare ups and lots of symptom substitution. If nothing else, it has got me meditating more regularly, more aware of my body, and even more aware of the power of our minds. Can't complain about that! :D

    It's difficult with your dad, maybe you can just tone down discussions with him about it? I like the concept of focusing on the solution and not the problem. It might not be the best idea to go over the symptoms with him, but short of just lying that could be tricky. I am sure that there are many people on this forum who have dealt with people in their life who are skeptical or even hostile to a TMS approach, maybe they can offer some suggestions.
  16. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, as Tarala suggests, it sounds like it would help if you saw a TMS physician who could confirm the TMS diagnosis. Dr. Alexander is a psychologist, but is in Australia so may be able to refer you to a TMS doctor close to home. By all means, get an MRI of the hip too. If it comes up negative, that would give you even more confidence in a TMS diagnosis to account for your hip/lower back pain. That bulging disk between L4/L5 doesn't sound like it would cause as much pain as you describe, but since I can't diagnose or prescribe only advise, a TMS physician could give you a more accurate professional assessment of your condition. Sometimes that's all it takes I've heard to remove any doubts about this being a purely psychologically based set of symptoms.
  17. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter


    I cannot seem to find any TMS Doctors in Australia.

    I'm making slow progress and looking forward to learning more about TMS and myself.

    I recently started mediating and it does feel very beneficial. I tried to go surfing the other day and it really hurt a lot to try get up on my board which was pretty disappointing. I'm onto day 8 and staying determined to overcome my pain.

    Yeah I think I will just leave it for now and focus on my TMS recovery. I am really determined to overcome my symptoms and move on with my life. As you said, it really is a great way to become more aware of your emotions and body!


  18. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter


    Just a quick update. I'm onto day 12 and have only made slow progress.

    I still have intense bouts of pain in my left buttock/hip area.

    It's very hard to deal with because its the last thing I feel going to sleep and the first thing I feel waking up. As soon as I put pressure on my leg I instantly feel pain. It does get a bit better during the day.

    Really struggling to stay motivated and journal.
  19. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Eddie, you might want to check out this article by Alan Gordon on the mental technique of what he terms, "Outcome Independence":


    You're just at the start of TMS healing and, quite naturally, you want to see positive changes in your pain situation as you progress through the SEP. You'll find (at least I did) that the improvements in your TMS symptoms will occur in a non-linear fashion. For example, about three weeks ago, I seemed to be getting better and better. Then, one day I did some back curls using the medicine ball and the next day, I got pain on my right side instead of on the left, which has been typical for me. I went through all of those counterproductive mental gymnastics at the time too: Had I "reinjured" myself? Was it going to start all over again only on my right side now? Well, the pain in my right side went away completely a little while later, and I improved a whole lot on my left. But all this back stepping followed by forward progress took nearly three weeks and now I'm much, much better, amazingly improved in fact. You just can't get distracted by short term setbacks until you finally see the whole picture of your healing. IOWs: Listen to Alan. You have to gain outcome independence so you're not constantly obsessing about your symptoms, which is what's happening each day when you wake up and come into your full consciousness. Of course, I haven't had a classic Sarno book cure either. It's come gradually over the course of at least three years. I think it took so long with me because I continued to go to PT and do exercises for my TMS, which reinforced my belief that what I was experiencing was physical and structural. My improvements really started to speed up when I ditched PT. But definitely check out what Alan has to say about 'outcome independence'. A lot of wisdom and a lot of clinical experience behind Alan's opinions.

    You'll get better I'm certain of it. I remember being just like you, waking up each morning, weighting my leg and listening to my pain symptoms increase through the day. Very familiar territory. You just have to be done with monitoring your TMS condition morning noon and night.
    veronica73 likes this.
  20. Eddie

    Eddie Peer Supporter

    Hi MorComm

    Thank you so much for this article and your insight. You are exactly right!

    I obsess over the pain and cannot seem to get it out of my thought process. I have been reading a lot about emotional and psychological connections with the body and I know that obsessing over the pain is detrimental to my recovery. I will now work even harder to overcome thoughts of the pain.

    I am going to start journalling regularly again and increase my meditation. I may even consult a psychologist to help uncover some deep, repressed emotions.

    I to consider going to PT and back to the Dr's to find some 'miracle cure'. I think this is just a trait of our TMS personalities.

    I cannot wait to overcome my TMS symptoms and start to help others overcome theirs.

    Thanks again


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