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Alex B. Do I have tms?

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by joshcm, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. joshcm

    joshcm Peer Supporter

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Hi All,

    My first time here and I am happy to have found support through likeminded people. I guess I have am after the common validation question - Do I have TMS etc.? or at least a sound and balanced judgement from someone with more experience than I. Only recently came across the concept of TMS - through reading comments on a back pain site. Subsequently read both of John Sarno's books and it was like someone just turned a light bulb on - made so much sense! I fully accept that I have TMS although my pain has been around for 2yrs so shifting that is hard, and not something I have managed to do yet.

    I first felt mild pain in my hamstring in October 2014 after deadlifting weights at the gym - it didn't worry me as was very mild, but it continued for 6mths - at which point I moved to New Zealand from the UK. Over the next 6mths, the pain hadn't improved so I went to see a physio - didn't help so saw a second physio (who contradicted the first). All the time I was still exercising and the pain was more annoying that anything else. The opinion of the physio was that I had a disc bulge and that I should stop all exercise immediately - usual 6--12mths to heal etc etc. So I stopped all exercise - and got referred for an xray (came back fine) then MRI - which showed 2 disc bulges l4-l5 & l5-s1 both showing mild bulges with the nerve root slightly compressed on l5-s1. So after this and 9mths with minimal exercise I am baffled as to why the pain has not only got no better but has got worse! (Mainly sciatic)

    I am definitely the perfectionist/obsessive type and have had anxiety for 15yrs which manifests in mild hives on face, inner trembling, tinnitus and more recently muscle spasms in arms. At the time of my pain starting I had lost a job, had significant debt and had a life changing move to the other side of the world whilst my girlfriend had decided to move to Dubai to work in aviation - so had to juggle a long distance relationship. I had also had a back problem for 1.5yrs previously in 2008 after a messy break in a 5yr relationship.

    To summarise my pain - sciatic, right side, pain going down to calf, no pain when running/working out (crossfit) etc. but bad when sitting or when bending forward. More recently I developed stomach pain and started waking up with pain which seemed to be radiating from inside the postural muscles and 3mths ago I developed postural pain in the lumbar vertebrae.

    I also get a funny sort of sensation (not painful) feeling in my left shin when I stretch my right hamstring (which is painful) even though there is no structural reason for this, as evidenced on the MRI.Over the last 2wks I have also started to develop little electric type current sensations in right foot (not leg) even though my back is better - they don't hurt at all and occasionally move into left foot. They get worse, as does sciatic pain when I am stressed.

    Since I starting reading Sarno's work 1mth ago my sciatica has improved. I no longer has stomach pain or pain upon waking, don't use a car seat for pain or sleep with a rolled up towel. Can also sleep on my sides now which I haven't been able to do for 9mths. Getting back into full exercise which helps although against the conventional advice. I am no longer willing to put my life on hold - but I still have little doubts, Re Am I making it worse/casing damage by exercise??

    Sorry about the rambling post and thanks in advance for any advice

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2016
  2. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi J, thanks for the question

    Form what you are writing here you certainly demonstrate some of the telltale signs of TMS. Pain the exceeds physical evidence, susceptibility to mind-body symptom manifestation, the matching personality type - it's all here! Something that stands out for me is the "precedent": You have clear experience with anxiety manifesting as physical symptoms! Hives, tinnitus, trembling and muscle spasms in direct response to anxiety shows us that you have a clear proclivity towards physical manifestation of psychological turmoil. The correlation between several major life stressors and the commencement of this specific symptom are very clear as well. In addition, there are few things as convincing to me as seeing shifts come about when you begin to dive into the material, learn about Dr. Sarno and the mindbody connection. If your issues were strictly structural then this sort of work would not yield any sorts of changes!

    As you have no doubt been discovering, a huge component of working with TMS is confronting fear and anxiety. Because our symptoms are uncomfortable they have a powerful capacity to generate fear, and therefore it is important to try and confront them. In other words, because you fear further damage, the idea of exercise is scary and becomes part of your preoccupation and distraction. Therefore I think that it is important to start to confront some of these fears and trying to move through them. Now that doesn't mean you should necessarily go all out and drive yourself into the ground - it's not necessarily a simple equation of more exercise = less pain. But I think that by confronting the fear that is generated, reminding yourself of what is going on and why and offering yourself comfort and support, you can begin to move past your fear.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.


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