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Investigating TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by mrchris, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. mrchris

    mrchris Newcomer

    Hi there,

    I am working through some chronic pain, and found some information about TMS a few months ago on Reddit. After my searching, it seems this is the best forum to get help.

    First of all, I'd certainly like to see a TMS therapist to help me confirm that I really have it. But if anyone can let me know if I'm in the right place, it would really help!

    Here's my basic background. Throughout my life, I had essentially no history of injury or chronic pain whatsoever. Then, in the year I turned 30, I came under a lot of professional and emotional pressure. I was working full-time, and had just started going back to school part-time. It's possible I was subconsciously blaming myself for not achieving XY or Z before reaching this age. Later that year, I found out we would be expecting our first child, too.

    I began to develop strange muscle tightness in my upper body, which began to feel like the "crushing" chest pain similar to heart attacks. It felt like a weight was placed onto the middle of my chest. This led to shortness of breath, occasional panic attacks, and digestive problems.

    After many tests and doctor's visits, I definitely learned a lot about my body (it's not exactly perfect), but there was no evidence of anything wrong with my heart or lungs, or at least, anything that could cause these "heart attack" symptoms. After learning all this, my symptoms subsided a little.

    A few years later now, I currently struggle with chronic upper back and neck pain, and occasional weakness/unsteadiness in my legs. A recent MRI showed "minor degenerative changes" including "mild protrusions", but no evidence of anything urgent. My doctor recommended injections if the pain became severe.

    So at this point, I'm trying to figure out of this is all TMS. Personality wise, I totally fit the description of the type-A, perfectionist person that Dr. Sarno describes in "Healing Back Pain". But I am not sure what I should be doing about my "mild abnormalities".

    It's kind of hard to be a new dad while wondering if I'll be able to be properly present with my kids, for the long term.

    Any advice for getting started would be very helpful :)
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi there @mrchris and welcome!

    Sounds to me like you're in the right place - you've got some serious symptoms, but no serious health problems, and you've been thoroughly checked out. It's the TMS take on the old Sherlockian adage: when you've ruled out the medical explanation, what remains? The answer, which is being accepted more and more in the traditional medical community, is that it must be a mental explanation.

    The key point to understand and accept is that our brains create every sensation we feel - especially the sensation of pain. The pain message originates in the brain, not at the area where the pain message seems to end up. This completely explains phantom limb pain - which has been accepted by the medical community as REAL pain.

    If the only thing you've done at this point is read Healing Back Pain, I recommend Dr. Sarno's last book, The Divided Mind, because he distills his theories (updated by about 20 years of continuing practice) and then turns the book over to five other MDs and a therapist. I downloaded my copy from my local library back in 2011.

    In addition, you can start doing the free Structured Educational Program, which will get you started on different knowledge aspects, but more importantly introduce you to the journaling/writing/accessing emotions aspect that you need to do in order to progress to recovery. The best advice I can give anyone doing the SEP is to listen to your brain and make sure you don't let it sabotage your work - it will try to convince you to skip things, or prevent you from writing some things down. You have to ignore it and write those things down anyway, no matter how much you feel like you don't want to, no matter what excuses you have for not writing them down. You can destroy all your writing, so just do it.

    And here's a podcast for you which might be useful: The Mind And Fitness Podcast by Eddy Lindenstein. On #85 a few weeks ago he got to interview the wonderful Dr. Howard Schubiner who is seriously studying TMS and TMS recovery techniques in combination with the latest neuroscientific information. Once you listen to that episode, try these two: Dan Buglio (#70) and Andy Bayliss (#65). Also, you can't go wrong listening to his three shows with Nicole Sachs, LCSW (#10, #37&38) and he's also interviewed Dr. David Hanscom (back surgeon turned mindbody advocate), Steve Ozanich (twice) and a bunch of other TMS luminaries - all with their own unique take on this condition we call TMS, in honor of Dr. Sarno's original theories about the mindbody connection.
  3. mademesmile

    mademesmile Newcomer

    Hey, welcome to the forum. I discovered TMS from Reddit as well.

    It definitely sounds like TMS given the life changes that occurred at the onset of symptoms. My TMS issues really kicked into overdrive once my first child was born. Chronic pain is one thing to deal with by yourself but once you have children and someone else depending on you it can really amplify the fear of a lifetime of pain.

    I’m still dealing with pain but I’ve had a few pain free weeks after discovering Dr Sarnos work. I have been trying to use my children as a positive force to motivate myself, rather than a responsibility to fear.

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