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intro + stuck treating TMS due to fear of injury relapse

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Mash, Dec 23, 2021.

  1. Mash

    Mash Newcomer

    [Originally posted this question in the wrong subforum by accident--sorry!]

    Hi all! I'm an artist in my late 20s. About nine months ago, I began a project that involved 8-12 hours of detailed painting per day for weeks. The repetitive process gave me debilitating injuries in both hands--so severe that I had to end work and couldn't feed or dress myself without extreme pain, let alone continue my livelihood. I feared I'd never regain use of my hands.

    After months of rest and occupational therapy to rebuild strength, I've thankfully regained most of my ability. However, I still experience somewhat random flare-ups of pain, specifically when making art or using digital devices for extended periods of time. I believe TMS describes my current situation, and I've noticed that many of the exercises to target neuroplastic pain work for me. I've begun to successfully accomplish more and more with minimal discomfort.

    One thing still holds me back: the fear of genuine relapse. I do believe I had a structural injury months ago, and although I'll never take on such a large workload again, I'm terrified of re-injuring myself. What if by combatting TMS, I begin to ignore pain signals that actually warn of structural injury?

    I've noticed many TMS exercises involve soothing the brain to convince it that it's not currently in danger--and that it never was, that the pain was always related to emotional or psychological factors. Since I did have an injury at one point, this doesn't describe my situation, and I feel stuck. Is anyone else in a similar boat? What's worked for you?
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Your “injuries” do not sound physical to me. It must have been stressful painting all those long hours. You have completed therapy! Wonderful.
    Now you are worrying and stressing that you will relapse which is a typical TMS issue. Fear looms large.
    The reality is that you may have a relapse. But if you work to reduce your fears, and understand fully that the issue is not a physical injury, your experience might be much different.so your limiting beliefs about your symptoms and your fear are a great place to start!
    Both the free TMS program here https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/ (Pain Recovery Program) or Alan’s book: The Way Out and Dr. Schubiners book help you discover what’s behind those stressors in your life.
    Mash likes this.
  3. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Repetitive stress doesn't cause injuries.
    People have been doing repetitive actions for the entire history of mankind. When the idea that" the pain people are having is Because of those activities" got started in the last 50 years, they have spread , to quote Sarno "geometrically". They can't hurt you, and any 'recovery' you are getting from therapy is more than likely a placebo effect.

    Also, Dr. John Sarno never taught anybody about "soothing" the brain...that is a modern theory by a second generation TMS doctor whose work I have only heard of because so many of the people who are stuck talk about it.
    Sarno talked about identifying RAGE makers in our life that are not expressed, like Family, career, relationship responsibilities and pressures that for some reason or another we have not identified or expressed....and usually when we find them and 'out' them, the pain recedes .

    I am 56 and have painted since I was 16...artistically and professionally (like painting houses)... I have been repetitively pushing brushes, heavy spray equipment and rubbing overglazes for 4 decades and have no 'damage'...what I DID have was mixed feelings about that as a career (I worked in film) and WHY I did it. When I realized I didn't pick it, it picked me and it sucks...then my pain went away...without changing a thing in the physical world...and I was on a roof today prepping walls in the freezing cold, but pain free

    We all came here believing some of the stuff you listed there... this is an education program...as you learn about the material and yourself as a deeper level, your pain will leave.
    Ellen likes this.
  4. Mash

    Mash Newcomer

    Thanks for your reply! To be honest, I struggle identifying whatever happened to me. The pain and symptoms I experienced at the time didn't seem to meet the criteria or description of TMS whatsoever (although my current pain does). It improved very slowly with complete rest + exercise despite my continuing mental state of stress, rage, despair, etc.

    I've been painting and working with my hands repetitively and often strenuously for my entire life without any pain. That said, the project that debilitated me was unlike any other task I'd ever done, art-related or otherwise. I was making hundreds of identical copies of tiny paintings on a tight turnaround (acting kind of as my own assembly line) and I didn't have the most ergonomic setup. The pain I experienced then felt entirely different from the TMS I experience now, and was triggered by different things. I don't doubt that emotional and mental factors contributed to it, but I admit I have a really hard time accepting the possibility of no physical injury at all. I imagine that emotion is something a lot of people on this journey deal with.

    I haven't had the chance to read Dr. Sarno's work yet, so I'll be sure to add it to my list. I'm happy to hear that you're currently pain-free, and I look forward to getting there myself!
  5. MedicineWithin

    MedicineWithin Peer Supporter

    It could be a bit of both. Sounds like you were potentially working on a project that was stressful in some way. Many times tms comes from a split in our consciousness within ourselves. Part of you may have actually not wanted to do what you were doing. When this happens we injure ourselves more easily. This could be metaphorically like self sabotage or quite literally like a physical (seeming) problem. Remember, in our experience there is the physical, emotional, spiritual and even more subtle layers. Even if something seems like a purely 'physical' experience there is always other things and aspects happening, nothing is completely isolated. That is like saying a birth is a purely physical experience. Sure there is a physical aspect to it, but much more. TMS is the same. Many people begin to have tms after an injury because they are unable to release from the fear (memory) of what being injured is like. Fear causes constriction, constriction creates less oxygen in nerves and tissues which creates the experience of pain. Ask yourself in what ways did you not want to be doing what you were doing at that time? And why? Really ask and listen, and perhaps you will hear something honest. There might be an internal conflict happening that needs resolution. You are not conscious of the conflict, and so unconscious part or yourself makes it known by the symbol (symptom) of your situation. Wishing you well.


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