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Elbow and Wrist Pain Success

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by omoplata, Mar 12, 2023.

  1. omoplata

    omoplata New Member

    Hey all,

    I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, and I’m hoping it can help anyone who identifies with my experience.

    I first started having pain in the back of my wrists in 2015 when doing push-ups. Soon after that I would sometimes have similar pain when typing, which also then spread to become pain on the side of my hands.

    I started working as a software developer around this time and began experiencing pain on both the inside and outsides of my elbows, too. I also would sometimes feel a tingling, numb sensation in the ring and pinky fingers in my hand. Later, I also started feeling a tingling sensation and pain in my upper back.

    The pain was most frequent and often strongest while working. But I also would notice it while driving and experience it broadly throughout my day; from waking up to going to sleep and doing simple things like picking up groceries or even just sitting and doing nothing at all. Most often the pain was not overwhelmingly strong — probably a 2-4 on 1-10 scale—but it was nagging and felt impossible to escape.

    I thought there was something physically wrong with me. There were several possible culprits, I figured. My ulnar nerve subluxes in my elbow (when I bend it, it sort of “pops” over the joint). I work at a computer all day. I do jiu jitsu which involves lots of gripping, pulling, and pushing. I also used to lift weights and thought maybe I had lifted for years with poor form.

    Over the course of several years, I saw multiple doctors and specialists. I tried occupational therapy and physical therapy (multiple therapists). One doctor suggested surgery to prevent my elbow from subluxing. Another said I had a ganglion cyst on my wrist. I had an MRI which showed mild tendonitis on my elbow. I also had a nerve conduction study which showed mild issues.

    I tried all sorts of ergonomic devices —wrist pads, vertical mouse, ergonomic keyboard, standing desk. I wore wrist braces and elbow braces (I even slept with elbow braces). I tried acupuncture, prescription pain relievers, heat, ice, and rest. I’m probably forgetting other treatments.

    Some brought relief, but it was always transient. After several years of dealing with this and having no real success, I stumbled upon Dr. Sarno’s name. At this point, I was fed up and open and hoping for something to relieve my pain.

    It turned out my mother had read one of his books years ago and cured her back pain, which was encouraging for me. I started by reading The Mindbody Prescription, and eventually read Healing Back Pain, and The Divided Mind. I even bought the DVD of his recorded lectures. Some of it resonated — I am a perfectionist, put pressure on myself, and am prone to self-criticism. Some of the science, like mention of studies demonstrating that MRIs of people with vs. without back pain not demonstrating meaningful differences also made sense.

    But I struggled with the explanation via Freud and was searching for something a bit more concrete. I also found it hard to really relate and know if this was all for me — almost all of the focus was on back and neck pain and the majority of my pain was in my elbows.

    In classic fashion, I overanalyzed and stressed over whether I was following Dr. Sarno’s methodology “correctly.” I was hesitant to try following other practitioners in the TMS world because I wanted to follow through on Sarno’s program, I didn’t know who was legitimate, and, frankly, because it was overwhelming. This probably went on for a year or so.

    Then two things happened. First, I quit my job. I acknowledge this is an option I was very privileged to have. I had been largely attributing my pain to working at a computer, and now I wasn’t doing that. But I was still experiencing pain. This would be the biggest source of “evidence” for me for the second factor — around the same time, I discovered this forum and, through it, Alan Gordon’s program.

    I tried his program and found his podcast as well. I had been resisting following other TMS practitioners but was motivated by my lack of progress with Dr. Sarno. I also found Gordon’s association with Dr. Schubiner legitimizing. Dr. Schubiner’s neuroscience-based explanation satisfied my need for a more modern explanation of what was going on.

    It took a while, but I slowly started to notice progress. I attribute my success to building evidence that there really was nothing wrong with me, mostly through noticing the inconsistencies in my pain—in terms of when it occurred, and the details in how I experienced it. His technique of somatic tracking ultimately helped the most, but it was hard for me to implement. I had immediate anxiety when I would feel twitches of pain. Over time though, I was able to apply the approach of 1) not trying to change the pain or get rid of it and 2) just observing (does the sensation move here or there, is it more tingling or tightness, etc.).

    Nowadays, I still get sensations of pain, but I don’t have that immediate anxiety reaction. I know more deeply that it will pass and that there’s nothing wrong. I am working at a computer all day and doing jiu jitsu and recently started lifting weights again.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  2. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    First of all, congratulations on your success! Secondly, I would like to second your point about Freudian approach to TMS. I spent several months digging into my past and looking for the smoking gun of past trauma, to no result. It was long before Alan coined the term "somatic tracking" and formulated what was published in his awesome book, but I was lucky enough to find a class on negative emotions taught by the Buddhists. Believe it or not, the recommendations from Buddhists matched the recommendations by Dr. Schubiner and Alan Gordon rooted in modern neuroscience. That did the trick and I recovered from CRPS which still is widely considered an incurable "suicide disease".

    In my observations of the TMS world, there are 3 equally valid paths leading to a success:

    1. Classic Dr. Sarno/Freud - has been a great success for many people, despite Dr. Sarno's 60-year old explanations being somewhat outdated in light of modern neuroscience
    2. Dr. Schubiner/Dr. Moseley/Alan Gordon - rooted in the latest neuroscience-based view of chronic pain, worked for me personally too, although I was not smart or lucky enough to go straight to Dr. Schubiner but found my way through other sources, including Dr. Moseley.
    3. Just move on. There is substantial evidence that people who found a way to ignore (or, more accurately, dismiss) their pain and move on with their lives were able to eventually leave it behind. I admire those who were able to disengage from pain - I never could!

    As long as people understand that each one of us is unique and should chart their own path, they will find success in overcoming chronic pain. Many people are obsessed over following the instructions from Dr. Sarno (or any other reputable practitioner) to the tee, without understanding that obsession is one of the greatest obstacles on the way to living pain-free!
    Ellen, omoplata and JanAtheCPA like this.
  3. gx92

    gx92 Peer Supporter

    Hi omoplata, did you have also a snapping/popping feeling on the inside of your elbow when you did push ups for example ? Or just the sensations in Fingers etc. Its a realy disgusting feeling the snapping i have
  4. omoplata

    omoplata New Member

    Yep, I still have that. That's the "subluxing" of my ulnar nerve I was referring to. It's more pronounced on my left elbow, but it happens on both sides. And, yes, pushups are an example of a time when it occurs.

    During the time period when I was experiencing chronic pain, I used to really pay attention to it, but nowadays—much like everything else related to this stuff—I don't think about it too much and notice it way less frequently.
    gx92 likes this.
  5. gx92

    gx92 Peer Supporter

    Its so weird, i suddenly developed this and never had problems early in my life in the gym. I am just wondering because i read of some Studies where they say that about 60% of Athletes have asymptomatic subluxing. So its Kind of normal i guess, so i thought this popping snapping feeling is abnormal, but yea im focusing on this now instead and already stopped training -.-

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