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Is lymphoedema TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by si7, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. si7

    si7 Newcomer


    I am new to the site, I was wondering if anyone was aware if lymphoedema (that seems to be UK spelling, while lymphedema is used in US) is caused by TMS, or at least whether the pain of it is caused by TMS. I have searched for both variations of the spelling on this site, and on Google, but haven't found any results.

    My mother in law has had the condition for around a year, and it has given her very swollen and painful legs, making it very difficult for her to walk - this is tough, as it seems that exercise is one of the most important things she should be doing to help her symptoms, but she is unable to do so due to the pain.

    If the pain was due to TMS then she may be able to push through the pain barrier, knowing that she wasn't doing herself any harm, and knowing that this could show the TMS that the pain distraction will no longer work.

    She is a definite type-T personality, so would be likely to have TMS symptoms, but I think I will struggle to convince her that TMS is the cause of this particular pain if there is no one else has written about it.

  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    si7, this is a great question, thanks for asking.

    First, take a step back and do not focus on whether or not your MIL has TMS. Of course she does. So do you. So does every human being - that's because the TMS mechanism is a survival technique developed by our primitive brains. Blushing, as Dr. Sarno says at the start of all of his books, is a manifestation of the TMS mechanism!

    Some of us struggle with TMS more than others. Dealing with TMS when it creates chronic pain or other symptoms is what brings people to the work of Dr. Sarno and other mind-body practitioners. Your MIL may be someone who does in fact have TMS symptoms - however, trying to convince her that she has TMS is probably a non-starter while she is struggling with a debilitating condition.

    That being said, the reason I still want to respond to your question is to address the very relevant issue of how our pain has a lot to do with our perception of our pain.

    When I was several months into my TMS journey back in 2011, I realized that some of the techniques that we learn to reduce or banish our symptoms could be applied to injuries and illnesses. I made this connection when I remembered my own experience three years prior, as I was waiting in an emergency room after crashing my bicycle, with what I was pretty sure was some kind of break in my left hip or thigh. I was in a lot of pain, and also suffering from a massive amount of fear and anxiety, wondering how on earth I could be immobilized in bed with a broken hip for weeks. I was on the edge of breaking down. Then the doc came back with my x-rays, and said "Good news, this is a simple fracture, and the surgeon can have you pinned up and on crutches in a couple of days!" I could literally feel my pain level lower by half. When they offered pain relief, I asked for some ibuprofen to take the edge off. I was so confident about the outcome, that after the surgery I refused opioids, and stuck with the ibu. When the nurses asked about my pain level, I would say "I've had cramps worse than this". Which was absolutely true.

    In other words, my emotional state of mind, along with my perception that I was in good hands and could be easily treated, TOTALLY affected how much pain I felt from a real fractured femur, and from a real surgical cut all the way through my thigh muscles.

    TMS aside, here's the thing about pain: when our brains sense there is an actual injury or some kind of damage or attack going on in our bodies, they send pain signals to the nerves in that body part in order to warn us to take appropriate action (or inaction) as needed. In other words, pain is intended to be a danger signal - right? But those signals are generated by our brains, NOT by the body part in question.

    In TMS, our brains use the exact same neuro signals to create pain even though there is no physical danger going on. (The perceived danger is that our brains think that if we're bogged down in emotional distress we might not see the sabre-tooth-tiger behind that rock. It's not a very good mechanism, but don't get me started on the many imperfections of the human race).

    In other words, just because there is pain, there is not necessarily any physical danger. (Before embracing a TMS program of recovery, we are all asked to be sure our doctors have cleared us for appropriate physical activity in conjunction with the emotional work).

    Back to your MIL: I'm a tax accountant, and have no knowledge of this condition that your MIL has. I can't say whether or not her pain is TMS. But I don't think you need to focus on that. Because what I can say without any reservations is that if her doctors have told her that she will improve with walking and exercise, then she needs to be willing and able to change her perception of her brain's "danger" signals. Her fear and distress over her condition is feeding into her brain's natural tendency to be negative and to be looking for danger. She can choose to consciously change her mind and change those negative messages. That simple message is probably more acceptable than trying to force her to accept TMS theory right away. More acceptable, but it's still not going to be easy for her to change her entire way of thinking and ignore those pain signals! I would think that a good physiotherapist with a mind-body outlook could help her start slowly and carefully and give her the confidence to make progress.

    Good luck!

    pspa likes this.
  3. pspa

    pspa Well known member

    There is a great story of a construction worker who stepped on a huge mail that went right through his boot and foot and he was taken to the hospital in excruciating, off-the-charts pain. Except it turned out that miraculously the nail actually went through a space between his toes and did not impact the foot at all. The pain was all brain-generated from expectation.
  4. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

  5. si7

    si7 Newcomer

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