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Giving up "remedies"

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by hoolie, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. hoolie

    hoolie Peer Supporter

    Hi all-

    I am rejoining the fight after a year of chasing the structural diagnosis :)

    My question for those who have successfully gotten rid of back pain...specifically those with a structural diagnosis like bulging or herniated discs...How and when did you ditch those long-term maintenance recommendations like press ups (back bends), lumbar rolls when sitting/driving, etc? I am a physical therapist...not one that usually treats orthopedic issues, but one who highly values patient compliance...and as such, it is hard for my to grasp the idea of being 'non-compliant'! But I know that according to Sarno, as long as I do these exercises on a daily basis and use my lumbar support when sitting, I am reinforcing the structural "cause" of my pain. It's just scary to move in that direction!

    So, any words of wisdom are very welcome and needed!

  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hoolie, some of the best words of wisdom on this subject come from
    Steve Ozanich in his book The Great Pain Deception:

    "If the exam and reports show only the bulges or disc proportions or other normal physiological changes,
    then you are healthy enough to begin TMS tensionalgia healing. You need to understand that you've repressed
    the thing that is causing your pain."

    Steve says it's repressed anger, and you must have full belief in the TMS process... believe and accept it...
    or it will not work for you." Believe 100 percent in TMS. That's what it takes, and what it took for me to
    get rid of severe back ache.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hoolie, I have an interesting twist to your question. I discovered Dr. Sarno and the TMS Wiki three years ago, in September 2011. Prior to that, in 2010 and earlier in 2011 I was seeing an "alternative" MD who practiced cranio-sacral therapy. He convinced me, in November of 2010, to stop seeing my chiropractor of almost twenty years.

    Now, I'd had neck muscle spasms since 1992, about ten years after whiplashing myself while downhill skiing, and giving myself a small crack in my C6 (or 7?) vertebra. The break was treated, but not the whiplash, and it came back to haunt me in my forties (1990s). It was my firm belief that I needed regular chiropractic adjustments to relieve my chronic neck pain and debilitating headaches, especially during tax season, when I saw my chiro once a week. She was a good one, I think - she didn't have me on a schedule, and she urged me to practice regular swimming and yoga because she said I was better when I exercised more - she also expressed a certain amount of frustration that she couldn't "heal" me, which I certainly found interesting in looking back.

    And in 2008 I broke my hip in a bike crash (sports klutz?) and had that pinned up, so I'd had PT for that, and by 2010 was seeing a special orthotic/gait PT and had very extreme orthotics in my shoes.

    This alt-MD not only didn't approve of chiropractic, he also said that I was perfectly capable of keeping my "A-O" joint in by myself. This was after a number of months of regular visits and cranio-sacral therapy which is really all about "talking to" and calming your body and accessing emotional sources of distress. Sound familiar?

    So I did quit seeing the chiropractor - cold turkey. And amazingly, simply as a result of pure belief in what this MD said, I really did feel like I was able to keep my A-O joint in by myself. For years, whenever it went "out" anyone could feel this big hard lump off to one side of my cervical spine (my husband said it was creepy). The lump would be very tender, and it resulted in pain up into the occipital area at the back of my head, and often in severe one-sided headaches. I used to immediately run to the chiro for an adjustment. After the doc said I could deal with it myself, I would just kind of gently stroke it - not even as forcefully as massage - I would "talk" to it and suggest that it could move back over where it belonged - and the next day it would feel normal. I got through that tax season (2011) without ever feeling like I had to get an adjustment - after 19 years, that was pretty phenomenal.

    I achieved this entirely through a belief in my own ability to heal myself. It certainly helped that a medical professional had examined me, and had convinced me that I could do it.

    About six months later, the MD asked me to stop wearing my orthotics - also cold turkey - which I did. No repercussions whatsoever, except that I was able to start wearing some favorite shoes once more that didn't fit the orthotics.

    Which was all well and good, but the one symptom the MD couldn't seem to help me with was dizziness (more like wooziness or brain fog), my anxiety was getting worse, and by the summer of 2011, I was having low back pain, shaky legs, brand-new shoulder pain, and digestive disturbances and what appeared to be growing food intolerances.

    All of this was "Before Sarno". "After Sarno", I found significant relief from most of my symptoms, and I stopped seeing the (very expensive) alt-MD, because I totally got what he'd been doing for me, and I totally realized that I was capable of doing it for myself. And while I appreciated what he did, I was also a little miffed that in more than a year, he hadn't given me any self-help resources (he told me that he knew all about Dr. Sarno and agreed with his theories!).

    I also stopped going to Physical Therapy and started working with a Personal Trainer.

    My profile story includes a list of the many symptoms I was dealing with Before Sarno, as well as a list of favorite resources that really helped me.

    I'm not totally symptom-free, but I mostly am. I can't remember the last time my A-O joint "went out", I can talk myself out of my few headaches and any hint of digestive upset, I eat and drink everything again, I haven't had shoulder pain or shaky legs since reading TDM, I only have a bit of neck pain when I'm really stressed out, I had one painful episode with a lower back spasm in 2012 that totally went away in a few weeks, and I am doing all kinds of weight lifting and squats and core stuff at the gym, under supervision, with no problems. At age 63.

    I accept that TMS and its equivalents are wired into the human psyche, and it is something we need to live with and be able to deal with consciously and without fear or resentment whenever it comes up. I believe that those of us with anxiety have the hardest time with TMS, although many of us accept (per Dr. S) that anxiety IS a TMS equivalent. Anxiety is the hardest one for me to shake, but it's undoubtedly the one I've had the longest (I suspect I was born anxious). My relationship with anxiety and other symptoms that come up is totally different from three years ago, and I have my life back, thanks to Dr. Sarno and this community.

    A little longer answer, perhaps, than your question was looking for ;)

    Ellen, Seraphina, Peggy and 1 other person like this.
  4. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Hoolie,

    When I started working on my TMS about a year and a half ago, my physical therapist was a very close friend. I had been seeing her for over 15 years and she had helped me through many conditions, including the severe occipital neuralgia/neck/should pain I was suffering at the time. I had first started seeing her after I had surgery on my lower back 20 years ago. I had an MRI for my neck and it showed several bulging/herniated discs. This was just shortly after I had started to see a TMS therapist via skype. My physical therapist is very conservative when it comes to surgery, but she thought based on my MRI that I should seriously consider it. She said we could try for 4-6 months to work on more conservative treatments, but then I should really have the surgery if I was still in pain. I was also seeing an accupuncturist at the time who was also treating me for allergies. I would have to write another long post to explain all of that but the point is, I had been working on various therapies that helped me cope and treat all kinds of pain conditions. The problem was once one was resolved, another would then appear, and so I was always working on something and somehow I didn't make the connection that all the conditions were variations of the same thing - TMS. It was extremely difficult for me in the beginning of my TMS healing to ignore the MRI results and give up my relationship with my physical therapist. She had been my main support through everything and I trusted her completely. I started by giving myself six months to explore TMS and put the question of surgery on hold. At the end of the six months I was still in pain but I had experienced enough inconsistencies in the structural diagnosis and the MRI results to take surgery off the table. Over the course of the next year there were many times when I still felt very lost not having physical exercises, treatments, tennis balls to roll around and break up knots, deep facia tissue releasing massages, hot/cold packs, accupuncture..... I was frustrated with my TMS healing taking so long but I had experienced enough small breakthroughs that I was not able to go back to my old ways of believing in the structural causes. I am still working on my TMS but more from the angle of how to deal with all the emotional pain and conflict that was the driving force behind my pain. The MRI diagnosis truly means nothing to me now. I occasionally get a massage, but just to help me relax and deal with stress. When I stretch its only because it feels good, not to fix something. I also believe that it is okay to continue certain exercises in the beginning of your TMS recovery if it creates a lot of pressure and anxiety to give them up initially. Sometimes letting go of the structural belief is a process. It is the overall commitment to the process of confronting the emotional and psychological aspects of what is going on in your life that is essential.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
    Ellen, Seraphina and JanAtheCPA like this.
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Anne. The upbeat tone of your post tells me you have everything under control and are doing all
    the right TMS things to heal. It wasn't an overnight healing for me, or for Herbie, and others.
    For me, it took a lot to believe 100 percent my back pain was TMS and not structural. But when I
    gave up the 10 percent belief I was withholding, the pain went away.

    I think MRIs do more harm than good, maybe showing some structural problem that Dr. Sarno says
    doesn't even cause pain. What they do is make people anxious and depressed and make doctors and hospitals richer.
    You know better and so do I.

    Have a great weekend. Enjoy the days and think of happy things, without any pain.
    Let your imagination take you on a mental weekend vacation to your favorite place.
    I'll imagine I'm at mine... canoeing on a lake in the Minnesota-Ontario northwoods wilderness.
  6. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Walt! I don't know if I have everything under control but I am feeling much better in general. In the beginning it was so puzzling why our sub-conscious would choose pain as a distraction over really feeling our feelings or thinking about the psychological. Not that I would ever consciously choose pain, but once I started to genuinely expose myself to how I was feeling, I better understood what an effective distraction pain is and why our sub-conscious might imagine it is preferable. It is at least definable, and in a context that most people can relate to and understand. I know there was some threads on here recently about visiting family members and how socially acceptable talking about our physical ailments is. Now I am noticing that everywhere I turn. Very few people open up and talk about how they are feeling about themselves, their lack of success in their careers or marriages, how hard they are striving to hold everything together, their fear of death and illness, but many people will mention their aching back, their migraines, carpel tunnel and aching feet.
    The exciting thing is that once we start looking at the emotional conflict, what is at the heart of generating the unhappiness, or begin to realize how we might be treating ourselves, we have the ability to change it. On the other hand, pain keeps us frozen in time. The pain distraction does not allow us to accept or change anything. It simply makes us feel that something is terribly wrong and keeps us focused on that. So, yes, thank you. I am doing so much better. I am finally focused on what is true and making very positive changes in my life. And I love your suggestion to take a mental week-end vacation to my favorite place! Have a great week-end, Walt. I really love the spirit with which you approach life.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Very interesting post, @Anne Walker.

    Perhaps when we talk about our physical pain with others, we are really saying there is something wrong or missing from our lives.
    Tennis Tom and JanAtheCPA like this.
  8. hoolie

    hoolie Peer Supporter

    Thank you everyone for your responses. It helps. This is hard, huh? Total reprogramming is a process....
  9. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sorry, I don't understand what that means?
  10. hoolie

    hoolie Peer Supporter

    Hi Tom-
    What I meant was that as a PT, the dedication and work that the patient puts into their recovery by following our instructions, exercise program, etc is essential for progress....and we call that patient compliance. So now as a 'patient' myself, I have been told to use a lumbar roll when sitting, always...to do my press ups in the morning and evening, don't sit slouched, avoid crossing legs for long periods of time etc. So since 'patient compliance' is so drilled into my brain (and because I am a goodist, and a rule follower, and really hard on myself so if I do something 'wrong' I am likely to beat myself up for it), it is hard for me to choose to be what a PT would consider 'non-compliant' and not do these things. Which I need to give up, in order to fully grasp that there is nothing structurally wrong with me. It's hard...although I just drove for 10 minutes without my little roll behind my back...not a biggie, but a baby step. But it's scary.

    Thanks for asking for clarification.

  11. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for explaining that Julie. I'm sure you realize that you are dealing with a conflict here, you are a PT that treats injury from a structural perspective and the fundamentals of TMS is to do no physical treatments IF the DX is TMS. So, you should immediately stop using cushions, gizmos, gadgets and exercises. You should ASAP start wrapping your head around the psychological approach. For an exercise using that approach would be to look at the Rahe-Holmes list of stressful life events that bring on TMS/psychosomatic dis-ease.

    http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_82.htm :

    The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale
    Understanding the Impact of Long-term Stress
    Are you "burning the candle at both ends?"

    © iStockphoto/Anyka

    People use the word "stress" to describe a wide variety of situations - from your cell phone ringing while you're talking on another phone - to the feelings associated with intense work overload, or the death of a loved-one.

    But perhaps the most useful and widely accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S. Lazarus) is this: Stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that "demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize." In less formal terms, we feel stressed when we feel that "things are out of control".

    Our ability to cope with the demands upon us is key to our experience of stress. For example, starting a new job might be a wholly exciting experience if everything else in your life is stable and positive. But if you start a new job when you've just moved into a new house, or your partner is ill, or you're experiencing money problems, you might find it very hard to cope.

    How much of this does it take to push you "over the edge"? Not all unusual events are equally hard to deal with. For example, compare the stress of divorce with that of a change in responsibilities at work. Because of this, you need to be able to rate and measure your total stress score appropriately.

    The Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), more commonly known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, was created to do just that. This tool helps us measure the stress load we carry, and think about what we should do about it.

    This article looks at the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, and explains how you can use it to manage the stress in your life.

    The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale
    In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe decided to study whether or not stress contributes to illness. They surveyed more than 5,000 medical patients and asked them to say whether they had experience any of a series of 43 life events in the previous two years.

    Each event, called a Life Change Unit (LCU), had a different "weight" for stress. The more events the patient added up, the higher the score. The higher the score, and the larger the weight of each event, the more likely the patient was to become ill.

    The Stress Scale
    To score your stress levels, simply check the box in the right hand column next to all the events that have happened to you in the last year. Your score will automatically update.

    This table is taken from "The Social Readjustment Rating Scale", Thomas H. Holmes and Richard H. Rahe, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 11, Issue 2, August 1967, Pages 213-218, Copyright © 1967 Published by Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce granted by the publisher.

    This scale must not be used in any way to cause harm to an individual's professional career.

    Life EventValueCheck if this applies
    Death of spouse100
    Marital separation65
    Jail term63
    Death of close family member63
    Personal injury or illness53
    Fired at work47
    Marital reconciliation45
    Change in health of family member44
    Sex difficulties39
    Gain of new family member39
    Business readjustment39
    Change in financial state38
    Death of close friend37
    Change to a different line of work36
    Change in number of arguments with spouse35
    A large mortgage or loan31
    Foreclosure of mortgage or loan30
    Change in responsibilities at work29
    Son or daughter leaving home29
    Trouble with in-laws29
    Outstanding personal achievement28
    Spouse begins or stops work26
    Begin or end school/college26
    Change in living conditions25
    Revision of personal habits24
    Trouble with boss23
    Change in work hours or conditions20
    Change in residence20
    Change in school/college20
    Change in recreation19
    Change in church activities19
    Change in social activities18
    A moderate loan or mortgage17
    Change in sleeping habits16
    Change in number of family get-togethers15
    Change in eating habits15
    Minor violations of the law11
    If you experienced the same event more than once, then to gain a more accurate total, add the score again for each extra occurrence of the event.

    Score Interpretation
    300+You have a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future.
    150-299You have a moderate to high chance of becoming ill in the near future.
    <150You have only a low to moderate chance of becoming ill in the near future.
    What You Can Do About This
    If you find that you are at a moderate or high level of risk , then an obvious first thing to do is to try to avoid future life crises.

    While this is clearly easier said than done, you can usually avoid moving house, for example, close to when you retire, or when one of your children goes off to college; you can learn conflict resolution skills to minimize conflict with other people; you can avoid taking on new obligations or engaging with new programs of study; and you can take things easy, and look after yourself.

    For more on reducing stress, visit the Stress Tools area of Mind Tools.

    Note 1:
    Some scientists have suggested that the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is weak in certain areas. For example, some feel that different cultural groups react differently to different life events.

    One study compared scores of Americans with those of Malaysians. Interestingly, Malaysians had different attitudes toward breaking the law and toward relationships than the Americans did, meaning that their experience of stress was different at the same score.

    Keep cultural differences in mind as you score your own life events.

    Note 2:
    While it's useful to know about this idea so that you can take action with it, don't dwell on it, and don't let this knowledge affect your mood. Think positively!

    Note 3:
    Stress can cause severe health problems and, in extreme cases, can cause death. You should take the advice of a suitably qualified health professional if you have any concerns over stress-related illnesses, or if stress is causing you significant or persistent unhappiness.

    Key Points
    The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is a well-known tool for measuring the amount of stress you’ve experienced within the past year. Taking the test can help you see clearly if you’re at risk of illness due to stress.

    Warning: Stress can cause severe health problems and, in extreme cases, can cause death. While these stress management techniques have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress, they are for guidance only, and readers should take the advice of suitably qualified health professionals if they have any concerns over stress-related illnesses or if stress is causing significant or persistent unhappiness. Health professionals should also be consulted before any major change in diet or levels of exercise.

    This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Click herefor more, subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just $1.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  12. hoolie

    hoolie Peer Supporter

    Thanks Tom- and yes, the conflict is considerable ! Which could be generating a lot of tension in itself. However, if it had not been for the fact that it was a PT who introduced me to Sarno's work, I probably would have taken it much less seriously. She qualified it with the fact that yes, acute injuries do need treatment...but when pain persists, we need to look at what is perpetuating it.
    And yes...the list of stressful life events. It was the timing of everything that made me suspect it was in part psychological from the very beginning, even before I knew about Sarno. Dang that structural diagnosis that made it so hard to go straight to the brain from the very beginning!
    I wish Dr Sarno could just drop in to my house and tell me definitively that I have TMS, nothing else..even though my "evidence sheet" is huge, I think I'd have far fewer doubts if someone just looked at me at told me that this is what's going on.
  13. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think most or all of us wish we could have been DX'ed by the Good Doctor! Find a TMS physician at this site's list and go see one. White coats are our shamans, we believe what they tell us. They have the power to instill powerful PLACEBOS and NOCEBOS. Julie, from your voice you do sound like you are GETTING this stuff! There have been other PT's, yoga teachers, and body workers here with TMS. Adding TMS to your bandage bag will help you become a better healer. You are getting it!
    Ellen likes this.
  14. hoolie

    hoolie Peer Supporter

    Thanks Tom for the moral support. I think after seeing many testimonials from Thank you Dr Sarno and just reviews of his books on Amazon, I am bolstered with confidence. However, the fact that I didn't have a sudden "book cure" makes me think...is it really supposed to be this hard? It sounds so simple in Healing Back Pain. Just accept it, move on with your life, and boom! Turns out it's a little more work than that :)
    The other thing that helps is that my most recent PT is the one who told me, "you are not injured anymore- your body has healed". ...and we watched a video on pain science together. Fascinating..so what the PT profession is beginning to adopt regarding persistent pain is maybe not all that different than what Sarno is saying. Maybe. But that's encouraging!!
  15. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Don't know about the infamous "book cure" I keep hearing 'bout but if someone got cured reading a book why would they bother finding this site to tell about it? Being "cured" of TMS is a misnomer and in and of itself belies a misunderstanding of it's fundamentals. Dr. Sarno has advanced psychosomatic medicine science by theorizing that unlike Freud who thought pain was a punisher, Dr. Sarno says it's a PROTECTOR--a psychological defense mechanism, from experiencing head-on overwhelming emotional feelings that are socio-culturally unacceptable to talk or act out on. One may be "cured" of one symptom by exploring the stress filled life circumstances of the TMS outbreak, but how does one know when life will present other vicissitudes that will require TMS symptoms as protection?

    It took many of us most of our lives to develop our TMS personalities. Be patient, sleep on it. TMS PENICILLIN KNOWLEDGE is worth it. Good things take time--sleep on it. This stuff has to be absorbed into your sub-C and your MINDBODY on a cellular level--sleep on it--is there an echo in here?
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  16. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    You're right on, Tom, about TMS being a lifelong pursuit and progress.
    I like describing it as a protector -- a psychological defense mechanism.

    Every day can bring on a new or old stress that can give us pain or anxiety or worry.
    We just need to keep in mind that our minds are causing our symptoms, and
    if we redirect our mind from pain and worry, we can be healthier and happier.

    Live in the present and think of that present as being good, healthy, and happy.
  17. Peggy

    Peggy Well known member

    You were asking: How and when did you ditch those long-term maintenance recommendations like press ups (back bends), lumbar rolls when sitting/driving, etc?

    I think it is simple. The goal it to do something you love. Stop doing PT when you are able to do something you love. I don't think you want to be sitting (or laying) around doing nothing. I happen to think PT is better than that. Try to get into your new activity asap, even if it is small bits at a time. Those small bits are very specific and are pointing you in the direction of something you love and are more likely to get their quicker if you are starting to move in that direction. Once you are flourishing in the your favorite activity you will see how doing PT for a long period of time isn't/wasn't necessary. In essence, your new activity becomes your new physiotherapy.

    You talk about compliance. To me any good PT is flexible and shouldn't expect full compliance from me, they always seem to be able to adjust to my changes, and my feelings about activities. I think you probably know that about your patients, but are just hard on yourself.

    As far as lumbar rolls go, do you want to be carrying them around with you all of your life? No. Do you want to go into someone's vehicle or sit in a chair at some venue and not bring your rolls? I am sure you do. So you need to stop using them when your new goals (doing new fun stuff) outweigh your old goals (maintenance, just getting by).

    Best of luck in moving forward!

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