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Introduction and question about night time and early morning neck and shoulder stiffness

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by drjay71, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. drjay71

    drjay71 Newcomer

    Hello everyone. Just wanted to introduce myself. I am a 47 year old guy and otherwise very healthy. I try to eat right and work out regularly. I work as a physician who specializes in radiology.

    I began my journey with an episode of acute back pain about 17 years ago. Initially I attributed it to an injury while working out. Over the next 10 years or so, I tried many types of therapies including massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and medications. The pain wasn’t really that bad with flare ups every few months or so and the treatments helped somewhat and only temporarily. Never saw a doctor about it and pretty much self diagnosed myself with a bulging disk which I did have at L4-5

    About 10 years ago however, I had a severe spasm episode while on vacation which prevented me from even getting out of bed for about two days. The frequency of pain after this incident increased to every month or so. Over the last 5 years, I started noticing back pain or stiffness in the lumbar area almost every day.

    Luckily, I stumbled upon Dr. Sarno‘s book about seven years ago and it helped me tremendously after reading it just once. When looking back at my initial episode of low back pain, I think the injury really wasn’t the cause but instead I think it was several new events in my life including having our first child and starting my new practice. Looking back at the spasm episode, I sure it was stress related to work which then broke through while on vacation. I know Dr. Sarno mentions this in his book.

    Fast forward to today. My back pain started coming back about 3 years ago and it had been a few years since I had read Dr. Sarno’s book. I also luckily stumbled upon the Curable app. Reading the book and using the app has really helped but what I’ve noticed more recently over the past 6 months is not so much low back pain but a new type of pain. Severe tightness and discomfort in my neck and shoulders especially my right shoulder. The tightness and discomfort is most severe at night while I am asleep and when I wake up in the morning. As you can imagine, it prevents me from getting a good nights sleep. I know it’s not structural as my imaging studies have been normal and there are some nights where I have no pain or tightness at all. Tried new mattresses, pillows, sleeping positions and even meditating before going to sleep with little to no improvement.

    I am still convinced that everything I have gone through and I am currently experiencing is related to TMS. I am trying my best to correlate my emotions and anxiety levels to my pain and there is certainly a correlation between my emotions/stress and my pain and stiffness.

    My question is this. Have any of you had similar primarily night time episodes of tightness in this region?

    I generally feel tight and stiff most mornings and the location seems to alternate between the lower back and the neck/shoulder area. Sometimes both. During the day, I usually feel fine and using some Dr. Sarno's advice and exercises from Curable have certainly helped. For some reason, however, I cannot shake the night time and early morning pain and stiffness which is now almost a daily thing for me. I now even get the onset of pain an hour or so before I know it's time to go to bed which I find weird.

    I tend to be a generally stiff person and often enjoy massages which help temporarily. I also know that when pain migrates, it can be a good sign.

    Just wanted to see if there were any suggestions out there from other TMS sufferers, especially for this deep night/early morning stiffness.

    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  2. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    Welcome drjay71! I experienced all of this and more through my recovery from 15 years of severe back pain. Most TMS'ers symptoms are worse in the morning and at night.

    Pain moving to a different part of your back is typical of TMS. The pain and stiffness you are having is due to tense muscles caused by TMS. Your brain has been conditioned to activate these muscles out of fear of having a back problem.

    Since you are now aware that you don't have a back problem, calm the fear and danger message in your brain and your muscles will relax!!
  3. drjay71

    drjay71 Newcomer

    Thank you for your reply and assurance birdsetfree!
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    First off, Welcome!

    I did have early morning pain right where my neck and shoulder meet.Really sharp and any head turn triggered spasms. I had it for a solid decade before I discovered Sarno ('99). Knowing nothing about TMS at the time I always attributed it to poor sleeping positions and so forth. In retrospect it was always the most painful the earlier I got up(4-5 am) and whenever I started a new job. I was working in entertainment at the time and each job was days to weeks long so I had a new job often. I never remember having it on a day off when I had fewer responsibilities. Conditioning is really powerful, and I am sure the unconscious child didn't like waking up that early OR the lack of security in work.

    It has made a few weak return attempts in the last twenty years, but being TMS savvy, I always attack it head on and it can't get a toe hold.

    I have been at this for a long time and I have noticed that sometimes when I am under enormous amounts of pressure the 'tickle' as I call it doesn't show UNTIL I try to relax and move towards bed. The pressure at hand is enough to distract us but when it's removed...wham!
    Sarno discusses that in 'Healing Back Pain' . At the time I first recovered I was in my early thirties and hadn't had this happen yet, but after recovering from the majority of symptoms IF I am having an attempted resurgence it seems to come in the evening...sometimes minutes before bed.
    THAT is a pain in the ass because all of my TMS banishing strategies involve alertness (writing lists of anger provokers, physically challenging the symptom, yelling at it)

    I imagine being a Doctor isn't an easy job and I assume from your photo that you have a partner? Supporting ones self, close personal relationships and competitive endeavors seem to be the biggest TMS provocateurs. Sarno said whenever a new symptom seems to come out of Nowhere Look really close (LOL). In the two decades of experience I have found he was spot on in that assertion. It's usually something that I am 'OK' with that upon deeper inspection I am not 'OK' with.... I have just papered it over with adult behavior. My Kids, Partner, Job or Friends are usually prime candidates. I get along GREAT with all of them... that's why I get symptoms, if I get them. The older and more easy-going I get the more I have to be alert to these sorts of things. The unconscious never stops kicking against the pricks!

    Hope that is helpful and welcome again to our community.
  5. drjay71

    drjay71 Newcomer

    Thank you for your reply Baseball65! Your story is very similar to mine. I appreciate your insight! Yes, I am married with kids and YES there are many things that don't seem to be a big deal but upon closer inspection I am sure are. Work seems to be the biggest source of stress for me and I am actively trying to manage that. Meditation is something I have started recently and that helps. So does the occasional float tank session.

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