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Do I have TMS?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by hawaii_five0, Aug 3, 2021.

  1. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    hi all: I have been on here for 6 months or so. I wonder if I can ask for feedback on the question "Do I have TMS?". I know people can't give me medical advice but in my mind it is pretty clear. However, from everything I read it is VERY important to completely accept that you do not have a structural issue that causes pain. Let me recap my story, and highlight in caps the key phrases:

    - I am a guy, 64 years old (how did that happen? :)). Very athletic entire life, running, cycling, gym, etc. I little bit of a hypochondriac and a bit of a worrier but otherwise pretty normal. Have had episodes in past however of what I am sure were mind-body interactions, i.e hip hurting out of nowhere when I was obsessively worrying about something.

    - For more than a year had a weird "clicking" and feeling of looseness in lower back. IT DID NOT HURT. But it also did not feel normal, even for my age.

    - The feeling increased and became more prominent last November. STILL DID NOT HURT. Went to a physical therapist who said "sounds like you have an unstable spine". Start doing core exercises religiously, almost obsessively. Nothing changed.

    - In mid December went to a spine specialist. He said I had a class 1 spondylolisthesis. Said the feeling of instability was probably the vertebrae moving back and forth (at a later meeting he recanted on this and said that almost certainly was not the case). Asked me what my pain was on 0-10 scale. I SAID THE PAIN WAS A ZERO (he then gave me a dismissive look like "what are you doing here?").

    - I then started obsessively researching spondylolistheis and what exercises to do to make it better. ABOUT 3 DAYS AFTER VISITING THIS DOCTOR MY BACK STARTED TO HURT and now my hip felt weird too, like it was also "loose". Continued obsessively trying to fix it. Now the hip and entire pelvis started to hurt regularly. Started feeling really anxious and had to take Xanax more and more often. Started developing odd skin rashes, very frequent urination, ears ringing. None of which I had before this. Cut way back on exercise for fear of "making it worse".

    - From end December till recently saw two chiropractors (25 total visits), two separate physical therapists (30 visits), an acupuncurist (10 visits), massage therapist (1o visits), a second spine and pain doctor, my GP, had two additional X-rays and an MRI of the lower back. NONE OF THE FILMS SHOWED ANYTHING DEFINITELY WRONG beyond the pretty normal arthritis and other little oddities of a 64 year old. Pelvis X-ray showed nothing obvious.

    - Pain and discomfort is somewhat constant but at times almost not there but more often very much there. Sometimes the back hurts and the hip doesn't or vice versa. No pattern with daily activities. IF I AM HIGHLY DISTRACTED THE PAIN VIRTUALLY DISAPPEARS. E.g. going for a walk in a pouring thunderstorm.

    - I knew about Dr Sarno and the whole mind-body stuff even before this but have more and more become convinced this is all my nervous system and mind causing this. PERFECT CORRELATION IN TIMING BETWEEN MY "nervous system going haywire" and pain starting.

    Any thoughts - TMS?
    thanks for listening
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2021
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  2. rob89

    rob89 New Member

    TMS and in a lot of ways this absolutely mirrors my experience.

    i have had 2 reconstructions of my shoulder. Around September 2018 my shoulder started giving me some trouble out of nowhere. I went for treatment. As the weeks passed I started to notice a slight popping sound every time I turned my head. Now this may always have been there, but now I had an ‘injury’ (my shoulder) I was very aware of any physical feelings. So the clicking caught me. I would move just to hear the clicking so I could assess it- when did it click the most, did it click if I moved in a particular way, if I applied pressure to the area of the click and then moved did it still make the sound etc etc I found that pressure to the left of my occipital stopped the clicking if I turned, this went on and on.

    i must get this checked I said. The clicking didn’t cause pain UNTIL it would take up my entire day of thought....mild neck pain then developed. As this developed my shoulder miraculously stopped hurting. I sought treatment. 2 bulging discs and a claim of subluxation. My neck was now intense in it’s pain. My neck has been the sole driver since then; which was around November of 2018. My shoulder? Perfect. Everything was now focussed around my neck. Sometimes it moves. Neck, upper back, arms and hands. Over the course of the last 3 years alone I have had - 3 nerve test/diagnostics, 5 cervical MRI, 3 x rays, 3 brain scans (headaches started to come- my mind linked a sore neck to the production of head pain), 3 blood tests- even had my heart checked on 2 occasions because I ended up in hospital in debilitating pain struggling to breath.

    Yet through all of this I have been able to train and compete in many sporting activities. Distraction melts it away. Not only that. I believe, and this is something I still need to break, somewhere in my psyche I see my training as pure self improvement, so if training is self improvement, there is still a focus on the physical in lots of ways, my mind is happy to turn off the taps of pain, as my focus is already there. Same can be said of many things. I had a particularly worrying situation personally last week. The pain was nowhere to be seen as my focus had to be elsewhere.

    I am very much like you in that there’s some discomfort everyday. However we need to be realistic sometimes. I believe we can’t attribute everything to TMS. Just my opinion. Sometimes we have to accept aches and pains are a normal part of existence. They don’t have to be psychologically induced, but neither do the confirm something is ‘broken’. It just is. Those normal aches and pains become a focus and then we are in trouble.

    the other side of the argument is, when there’s pain that makes no sense, like you’re a, hip sometimes, back other times, no pattern- hallmarks of TMS. But again there is probably a mix going on with all of us here- normal aches and pains, normal aches and pains made worse by thought and aches and pains of a purely psychological origin. You don’t necessarily have to analyse then and categorise, but it’s worth noting that sometimes we won’t feel as good as others.

    I would say almost certainly TMS from that you’ve said.

    one thing stuck out for me and I used to say the same - ‘hypochondriac and a bit of worrier, but otherwise normal’

    get rid of the normal bit, it’s a softener for what you said before. Leave it at worrier and hyper. The acknowledgment is there then, standing alone. Then you take those two things, your other experiences, and the hallmarks your situation carries......TMS ☺️
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  3. mbo

    mbo Well known member

    In my humble opinion you have to learn to be ABSOLUTELY INDIFFERENT to your symptoms!
    Easy to say than done, because you are «worrier and hypocondriac»
    If your brain detects your fear, obsession, preoccupation it will perpetuate your symptoms.
    No doubt.
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  4. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    Based on all you wrote above James, it certainly sounds like TMS. But ultimately that's a decision you have to make for yourself. That's when I finally started getting better.... the moment I made that decision this is, in fact, TMS.
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  5. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    @rob89: Thanks for your response and wow yes, a lot of similarities, doctors visits, treatments, etc. and something not hurting until you start obsessing about it. And in my case only after a doctor told me I had a "problem".

    I am basically trying to follow the advice in the Sarno books and often given here and elsewhere about simply going about my life, getting over triggers of situations that I have come to be cautious of, and increasing exercise to ramp back to something approaching normal again. I rode my bike for an hour yesterday - the longest ride in 5 months - and it felt sort of ok albeit at a very gentle pace, but I also felt great for hours afterwards. But I think once I truly and completely accept the "TMS" nature of my issues I think things will improve. I intellectually accept it, but I think it takes time to really re-train your brain that there is nothing really wrong with you, or at least nothing that should be hurting all the time. And I'm sure that is my case

  6. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Thanks! It is so encouraging to hear success stories
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  7. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Thanks M. That is a great reminder. Be indifferent to your symptoms.
  8. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I had a relapse of TMS last year after years of being pain free. This relapse came in the form of back pain that also included a clicking sound every time I bent over. I think the clicking sound convinced me it was structural. It's a very persuasive and disconcerting symptom. However, once I realized it was all TMS, the pain and the clicking went away.

    After that incidence of TMS, I changed my exercise routine. I had been doing kettle bells, which may have exacerbated some instability from scoliosis. I have been doing the New York Times 7 minute standing routine daily for about 6 months now. Feel stronger and more stable in my core.

    I think TMS often strikes at a place that we perceive as weak.
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  9. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Thanks. So interesting. So you changed your exercise routine only after the pain and clicking went away?

    And just out of curiosity (not that I need to find new core exercises), what is the NYT 7 minute routine?
  10. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    When I first read HBP in '99 I absorbed the majority of what I live and believe now, and it's only been modified to include more stuff and broader categories.... but the longer I go , my new 'TMS Bias' gets more and more reinforced.

    Early on Sarno was absolutely clear that the 'clicking' and 'popping' was just normal noises. He didn't even pretend to explain them and I am glad. He just said to ignore them and I did. I had so many noises that if I was a dog , they would have took me out and shot me behind the barn...Hips, back, jaw, shoulders. Anytime I worked out, stretched, rolled out of bed,turned too fast.

    I haven't heard one in a long time. Maybe I still make them and I just don't notice? Or...like most of my symptoms, when they could no longer occupy my attention, it went away.

    It's like the stretching myth. I was taught that If I didn't stretch, I risked all sorts of injuries...than I read Sarno and he said 'BS'...so I went with him. Now, I do not need to stretch before stuff and it has caused me no ill effects after years of playing and working every day.... Oh sure...sometimes I stretch to play better, looser, but If I am late for a game, I just dive right in. No Long rituals.

    By the time most of us get here we believe all sorts of strange things that have no scientific basis and some that DO have a scientific basis , but the work is shoddy and silly. It really comes down to what we want to believe about ourselves. We are either the spearhead of God's ever advancing creation, or else, Evolution and God made a mistake and we are somehow delicate little gossamer's who are illegitimate spawn of the Gods who conquered, paved and subdued the earth.....a backwater eddy soon to be stamped out like all weak organisms.

    Pick one.
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  11. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, the pain was clearly TMS. Not sure if the clicking had a structural component to it or not, but I believe it led me to think the pain was structural. I changed my exercise routine just to change it, not to address structural issue, and found that my overall physical and aerobic well-being improved.

    The NYT 7 minute standing workout is a well researched routine that gets the most out of the least amount of exercise time. The "standing" version is easier than the original 7 minute workout, which many couldn't do. But the standing version is easy to make more difficult over time as one's fitness improves.

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  12. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Thanks. Makes me feel better. Always appreciate your entertaining posts!
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  13. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Thanks Ellen. I guess I could have looked it up myself :) Looks like a great way to get your heart going in just 7 minutes!
  14. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Tim: do you have a success story posted on here someplace? (those always make me feel better). Or even just a brief description of problem and resolution

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  15. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    Hey James!

    It's funny you mention that. I just started working on a success story. It was prompted by TG957's Thank you, Dr Sarno! post. But it has been long overdue and I hope to complete it soon.

    A brief description of problems include - years of debilitating back pain (sciatica), tennis elbow, and chronic fatigue. Other health problems, like acid reflux, chronic bronchitis, insomnia, and IBS are so diminished that they are no longer issues. (Damn... I sound like a mess! ;)). Some of these came on a different times in my life. My pain issues went away many years ago. Chronic fatigue came on in recent years. I'm convinced that recovery from TMS is a life-long endeavor. Fortunately, the process of recovering is a very rewarding one.

    The resolution has been a long and winding road, but if I had to boil it down to a couple of things, it'd be: 1) Accepting/believing that my pain and symptoms were TMS and 2) overcoming the fear around said pain and symptoms. Obviously, the two go hand in hand and getting there took a lot of time and work. Any of the good resources here or in some of the books can provide the framework to get there. I have personal favorites.

    I re-read through your original post above. It sounds like you have a very good grasp on TMS concepts and on how your symptoms could be TMS. I also sensed some fear and obsessing over them, which is exactly what I did and is exactly what feeds the beast.

    If you don't mind me asking, what sort of program and steps are you following to get better?
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  16. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    hi Tim: thanks for your response and I look forward to hearing your full story!

    The biggest thing that has happened to me recently is I have started seeing a "TMS doctor" - an osteopath, Dr. Harold Goodman, who is in the DC area. (he actually has a post on here). He is a great old-school guy, very much in the same category as Robert Fulford (a somewhat famous osteopath, now deceased). He said absolutely I have TMS, or as he put it, my problems are 98% TMS, 2% structural. So he is advising me largely to follow the same advice essentially that Sarno gave, and is often given here and by other practitioners, Alan Gordon and others and what you yourself say above:

    1) Keep repeating to yourself that you do not have a structural problem that causes pain. Focus this into your mind with repetition and whenever you hurt.
    2) Lose the fear. There is nothing to be afraid of. The pain is a neuroplastic pathway that your brain has created in response to the fear, and will wither away as you lose the fear.
    3) Lead a normal life to the degree possible. Over time increase the amount of time you spend doing normal things that everybody does and that you used to do before the problem.

    I've been slowly increasing my exercise over the last weeks to try to get back to where I was before all this. Until pretty recently I still was keeping things super gentle, fearing that I would "mess up my SI joint" or "strain my ligaments" or some such, not even really knowing what my problem is (since no doctor had ever given me a real diagnosis). E.g. last week I did a bike ride that was longer than any I had done in the previous 6 months. Today I did a ride that was longer and at higher intensity than that. Etc. No problems. There has not really been a change in discomfort over the last weeks, but neither has it gotten worse. So I think time and patience are also keys in all this.

    Anyway, yes the success stories from those who have gotten to a good place, even if it took a long time, are super useful, as you know. Thanks for your help and advice!
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  17. fewjoram

    fewjoram Peer Supporter

    It sounds to me that you have one. Hopefully you get better!
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  18. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    Sounds like a very good plan, James! Very similar to what I did when I first recovered from pain issues. I think at some point, something just kicks in as you continue to stay with it. A sort of "fake-it-till-you-make-it", which is a process I've always seem to go through.
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