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I think my RSI is TMS

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Rickstamatic, Aug 22, 2022.

  1. Rickstamatic

    Rickstamatic New Member

    I've been fighting RSI for about 4-5 years now. Primarily this has been finger pain in the right hand but it can also impact the left. I also get tight forearms and some mild back pain. This is mostly brought on by computer use but anything that requires the use of my hands can trigger it. In the beginning, it shut down my life. I have since reached a place where I can manage the pain and live a mostly normal life. I have good days and bad days but I get by. I thought this was just how my life would be but I recently found TMS and I now have some hope that I can actually be pain free.

    I've seen a lot of doctors. I've had a lot of tests. They were mostly all useless and couldn't even agree with each other. Carpal tunnel, tendonitis, cervical radiculopathy, upper limb disorder are some of the things they came up with but I passed all the tests (physical and nerve) and MRIs were normal (minor disc degeneration but they disagreed on whether this could cause symptoms). The only thing that worked was C7 nerve root block injections but they didn't last long and insurance only covered a small number.

    I gave up on doctors a couple of years ago as the whole experience was just getting me more down. I focused entirely on my posture as the only evidence I had was a potential disc bulge that 'might' cause neural irritation and the fact that nerve block injections helped. I worked hard on getting myself in shape and for a period it seemed to work. I was in a more positive place and the pain went away. Sadly though, it came back.

    I recently discovered TMS and am now questioning everything I have been doing for the past few years. It sounded too good to be true but I really, really want it to be true. I went through the intro parts on the TMS wiki and it sounded promising. I read some success stories and they gave me some hope. I'm only part way through the mindbody prescription but already much of it is ringing true. I don't have childhood trauma but I am not an outwardly emotional person. I bottle things up and I avoid confrontation. The more I read the more I think yes this is me. I'm still having an internal fight on this though as I have spent so long thinking physical that it's hard to stop.

    It's early days and I haven't even got to the section on what actions to take yet (aside from dropping physical actions like my exercises and stretches). That said, I have less pain than I did last week so there is a glimmer of hope there to get a hold of.

    I'm now also questioning how many other issues I may have that are TMS related. I've had anxiety for 20 years now and again just learnt to live with it. I have asthma/hayfever/acid reflux (hiatal hernia)/frequent urination/tinnitus.

    Where do people start? Just the books? See a therapist? Follow online programs? So many options I don't know where to begin.

    How do you determine which other issues could be linked to TMS? Do you fix one and they all go away or is there more work on each one?
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2022
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  2. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    Welcome to the Wiki!

    You’re in the right place and on the right track.

    There are two self-directed, free programs on this site: The Structured Educational Program (SEP) and Alan Gordon’s Pain Recovery Program. The SEP guides you through various types of writing exercises designed to help you deal with repressed emotions and other stressors that contribute to TMS. Alan’s program is more instructional, but they are quick but meaningful lessons on TMS recovery.

    Other resources I have found useful are Alan Gordon’s book, The Way Out; the Curable app; The Cure for Chronic Pain podcast by Nicole M Sachs. She’s also written a book. I recall it as being titled The Meaning of Truth but I may be wrong.

    There are many, many books and other media that people may recommend. There is so much out there now and different things speak to different people. If you try something that doesn’t work, it’s okay. Just go to something else and see how that goes for you.

    For example, some people get results by yelling at their pain. Others need to talk gently to their inner child to release difficult emotions. What you need can change with the time and circumstance. Or not. We are all different!

    TMS can manifest in an infinite variety of ways. The symptoms you mention certainly sound like TMS. We generally say that if you’ve medically ruled out something dangerous, you will see improvement or elimination of your symptoms by using TMS methods.

    Like you, I did not suffer serious childhood trauma, but have learned through doing exercises from the SEP, meditations and such from the Curable app, and working with a therapist that many of the traits that made me into someone with TMS started in childhood and affected me deeply.

    It’s a process to do this work. Instantaneous cures are not unheard of but are uncommon. You’ll find as you continue to do the TMS work, that symptoms will abate without you noticing.

    I’ve found that by working on the emotional stuff and not focusing on the physical I have better results. That part seems to work itself out. It’s a matter of ‘where the mind goes, the body will follow’.
    Rickstamatic likes this.
  3. Rickstamatic

    Rickstamatic New Member

    I'm about a week and a half in now and feeling a bit strange. My pain symptoms have lowered, not gone but a noticeable improvement. On the flip side, my anxiety has increased (which also upsets my stomach). Yelling at the pain seems preferable to me but for some reason I don't feel like doing that for the anxiety. For now I am just going to continue consuming as much TMS knowledge as I can.
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  4. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    It is so normal for anxiety to replace pain as the pain is reducing, or vice versa. You may also experience new symptoms. It’s all your brain trying to keep you in that it seems a safe space.

    After years of low- to high-level anxiety, mine finally seems to be gone. I’ve had some intense pain sensations of late but I once I realized, “hey, it’s cuz your anxiety is gone”, it got better and I know it will be completely gone at some point.
    Rickstamatic likes this.
  5. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    This right here, RickSta. Keep consumining and when it clicks it clicks. Did you watch the 20/2o video with Sarno?

    It makes sense that anxiety would creep up. You're scaring the crap out of your brain that it's not going to be able to give you pain anymore.
    It's like someone who goes on a diet and says they are never going to eat cookies again. The cookie monster inside begins to freak out.

    You're learning that you are never going to have finger pain again and the pain monster is freaking out a bit. It will get used to the idea soon enough.
    Rickstamatic likes this.
  6. Rickstamatic

    Rickstamatic New Member

    I did watch the 20/20 yes. I've now read 2 books and read/watched/listened to a large amount of success stories. My pain is not gone but it's still massively reduced to the point where it is having minimal impact, which is good. The anxiety is up and down but certainly far more up than it has been in quite some time.

    I actually think I might be focusing too much on consuming knowledge now. I think I might be using it as a distraction/delay tactic from taking action. I don't really know where to start though in terms of taking action so I am going to give the SEP program a go. I am also considering talking to a sirpa practitioner as I think I could benefit from someone giving me a push with some of this. I've had flashes of feeling a bit like the pressure cooker analogy (intense emotion of some sort bubbling up) but I can't quite reach at it then it subsides.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2022
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome @Rickstamatic. It sounds like you're progressing well! And that you are experiencing the normal phenomenon that as you start doing this work, and start rejecting physical symptoms, your fearful brain ramps up the anxiety.

    The definitive resource for those of us who have had lifelong anxiety is a little book called Hope & Help For Your Nerves, by Claire Weekes. It's an easy read, although the writing is a bit quaint, since she wrote it in 1962 when she was almost 60. Nonetheless, this book (or recordings for those who prefer audio) has brought relief from severe anxiety to easily tens of thousands of people around the world for over six decades, and it still does. It was the second book that saved my life after I initially read The Divided Mind by Dr. Sarno, and I read it while doing the SEP back in 2011. It's probably available from your library. Feel free to read my profile story, which includes a list of my favorite resources - some of them already mentioned here, like Nicole Sachs.

    BTW, the self-talk mantra that puts an end to my anxiety-based stomach distress (one of my brain's favorite symptoms) is "Hey brain, this isn't necessary - I'm fine, I'm safe, and you don't need to do this". Combined with a couple of minutes of deep, mindful breathing, it's almost magical how well it works.
    TG957 likes this.
  8. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    You already got excellent advice here, I can only add one point: not everybody can find a smoking gun in a form of a specific childhood trauma, I personally could not. However, I realized that my inability to handle emotions and anxiety led to a serious case of TMS. Once I learned to manage emotions and stress better, I fully recovered.
  9. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I also had no childhood trauma, but my mother was 30 when she had me, plus she had no experience with babies or even children, and she'd had a miscarriage before I was born. So I know without a doubt why I have had lifelong anxiety. She got past it, and by the time there were four of us, my perception of her was that she was rock-solid and lived her life and raised us with complete confidence. I attribute many of my successful life skills to both of my parents. I coped pretty well with the anxiety for many decades, but it got worse, and manifested more often with TMS symptoms, after age 50. Fear of aging.

    I feel like there are a lot of younger people now who were raised to be anxious, and who, as young adults, are really struggling to cope in an incredibly complex modern world, overwhelmed by information, technology, and existential threats. And the last two completely dysfunctional years haven't done any of us any favors. We have to find a way to acknowledge that and still keep on keeping on.
    Booble likes this.
  10. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    One also wonders if there is a genetic component for being more pre-disposed to some of this than others. They are survival mechanisms...even if not needed or appropriate for the current environment.

    And some of the new work on how trauma may cause biological changes that can be passed to the next generation is pretty fascinating.

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