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Is my RSI TMS?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Glass, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. Glass

    Glass New Member

    I've been suffering from chronic pain in my hands/wrists/forearms going on 6 years now. This pain started while working full time computer programming. This pain has been constant for all this time, though it gets worse with typing.

    I came across Dr. Sarno's books awhile back. I tried using the methods described in said books, but didn't seem to get anywhere in terms of managing my pain. I'm giving it another go though, and recently started reading Fred Amir's book.

    The biggest question I have though, is whether the pain I am experiencing is the sort of pain common to TMS. From what I've read, TMS pain seems to be described as a sharp, often debilitating pain. It also seems common that the pain moves around or ends up in multiple places around the body.

    The pain I've been experiencing can best be described as a dull ache. It's similar to what one experiences after going to the gym and overworking a muscle from exercise. The muscles are tight and inflamed. My hands are also cold, like they do not get enough blood. At no point has there been any numbness or tingling. If you were to massage the forearms, they feel "crunchy". It's also only in my arms... the rest of my body is more or less fine.

    I've been to several doctors, but all they do is prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and tell me to stop doing whatever is causing the pain.

    Anyways, I was hoping that there might be some people on here with similar kinds of pain that could share their experiences. Thanks!
  2. Redditor

    Redditor Peer Supporter

    Your pain sounds like it's being caused by physical repetitive movements or poor posture. Take the anti-inflammatory drugs as the doctors prescribed. Try to limit your time in front of a computer, and only use one when necessary such as at your job. Also practice good posture while using a computer. Here are some guidelines on how to sit and position your hands properly while using a computer to minimize injury. Take breaks every half hour too. There is a slight chance your pain could be TMS, but I don't think that's very likely because it's caused mostly by physical factors, not psychological factors.
  3. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Sorry, Redditor, but I disagree completely with your post. And forgive me for saying so, but I'm afraid Dr. Sarno would cringe at your recommendations.

    Glass, please do a search on here for RSI success stories. Have you read and reread Dr. Sarno's books? It can take time, so you must be patient with yourself. The key component here is "chronic". You've had this pain for 6 years!

    I highly recommend getting either Healing Back Pain or The Mindbody Prescription on audiobook and listening to them over and over again. You must believe 100% that you have TMS, and TMS pain comes in MANY shapes and sizes, so don't get hung up on the TMS pain as being "sharp, often debilitating pain".

    Ask yourself whether there was anything stressful going on in your life at the onset of your symptoms. Are you a perfectionist or a "goodist"? We TMSers are really good at analyzing everything to death. If your doctors cannot find anything wrong, then you owe it to yourself to jump in with both feet for a TMS cure. It is SO possible!
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
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  4. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Glass -- what Redditor says is what you've always heard. How could you ever heal doing the same thing you've always done. This is about the cure here ya know -- not just masking the Symptom.
    Honeybear had some awesome advice for you Glass -- Listen to her. Redditor I really respect your views but you have never learned TMS healing knowledge yet so you cant over ride ok. We will help you get there too Redditor but you have to give us a chance, your a blessing and that post above is your own un-conscious crying out to know the truth. We care for you Redditor, love yourself -- look in the mirror and love that person, she's very special.

    Glass, this page here will give you plenty of stories of how folks just like you have overcome RSI using knowledge therapy - Pay attention to the commen denominator in what they all did ok - http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Repetitive_Strain_Injuries_-_RSI

    You have got to go back through Sarnos book again and this time take your time like 1 page a day -- Fred amir is good too but you have to relax and be patient, let this healing knowledge sink in slowly. You didn't get this way overnight right. It will take like 1 or 2 months and you'll beging to notice a huge difference in your symptoms if not sooner. Another culprit is the question? What have you stopped doing that has always made you happy.

    Now to add to Honey bears advice which is like Gold -- You have to loose the focus you have on your RSI ok, it only feeds it more and keeps you in pain. You cant fear the symptoms either, that feeds the pain even more than the pain does.

    You will learn a lot here and you will heal. Start the SEP as soon as possible, its very easy to do and understand. In a month or two youll be giving your thank you speech to all of us.
    Bless You
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  5. Glass

    Glass New Member

    Thanks guys for the encouragement. Yeah the stuff Redditor mentioned is the stuff I've been doing for years... good ergonomics (you should see my insane keyboard collection), breaks (I quit my job in Aug...), etc.

    Reading through the success stories of others was helpful, especially after reading about the description of their pain.

    I think the most annoying part is that it may take weeks before seeing improvement after reading so many stories of people feeling better as they read the book. I'm doing my best to be patient though, and to follow through with this treatment.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson and Msunn like this.
  6. Msunn

    Msunn Well known member

    Hi Glass. Welcome. I also have RSI symptoms that have improved quite a bit since accepting the TMS diagnosis.
    I think Dr Sarno sees RSI, carpal tunnel in particular, as an epidemic created in the computer age.
    Where were those symptoms when many were banging on typewriters in the past?

    In my case I was told I have cubital tunnel (ulnar nerve entrapment) then mild carpal tunnel, tendonitis etc.
    I was also told nerves don't heal easily so it would take a long time to heal.
    All treatments made things worse. It started in just one arm and after PT it was in both arms, and I had tingling in both hands and feet, not fun.

    There is a Sarno video posted on the forum by Herbie that really helped me. It's great to hear him present his treatment in very simple language. The treatment he refers to is covered in The Divided Mind pgs 142-146. very simple, easy to do, and since I've accepted TMS as my problem 100% it's really helped.
    If you don't believe 100% percent right now it's ok. Over time it's the only explanation that made sense for me.
    Chances are if you stick around you'll find the same to be true.

    The other piece of the puzzle was to realize my anxiety and fear about my symptoms, were contributing as much as my repressed emotions. I've been doing mindfulness meditation to calm down, and I've also let go of trying to force the "cure" to happen on my time frame. Letting go of tension is key for me.

    This is a great community to get support and suggestions. Hope you'll stick around and let us know how you progress.

    All the best
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
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  7. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Glass, if it helps, I think that my RSI was definitely TMS. Unfortunately, there is a widely acknowledged problem where the people with the quickest recoveries are the ones who tend to write and publish their success stories. With the rare but dramatic very rapid recoveries, people understandably have a strong urge to put their stories to paper. Many more people seem to recover when they finally learn how to forget their TMS in their daily life, but those people also unfortunately "forget" to write down their success stories. Don't worry if your success takes a while. That seems to be much more common than the overnight transitions.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson and Msunn like this.
  8. Waterbear

    Waterbear Peer Supporter

    I think my RSI is TMS. My issues were mostly in my elbows, wrists, and knees. Since you want to know about upper body RSI, I was diagnosed as cubital tunnel/golfers elbow/tennis elbow and triceps tendonitis in the left arm, tennis elbow and wrist tendonitis in the right arm. I'm left handed but I use my right almost as much.

    I discovered TMS in Oct 2013 and went from painfully drawing for 15 mins max to drawing all day at times with no pain by Dec. I really think I recovered so quickly from the upper body issues b/c they never really bothered me as much as my knees, so I was able to let go, stop obsessing over them, and heal. (Knees are another matter, but I'm trying!)

    So back to drawing and art stuff..

    I'm a professional artist who mostly works on the computer (all artist positions are crazy competitive to get). I do graphic design (mostly right handed work) and video game art (mostly left handed work).

    My "RSI pain" started during a period of unemployment after the video game company I worked for went under. More specifically, it started about 30 mins after my interview for my current graphic design job. At the time, I viewed even considering a graphic design job as a "failure". (It's easier to be a designer than a game artist, and I'm very hard on myself). Over the past year, I've come to really like my new job and I've actually never been treated better at a place of employment. Honestly, it turned out to be a great decision.

    Like I mentioned before, my left arm (arm used for video game art) has been a lot better since Oct and virtually pain free since Dec.

    I was out having dinner with a few of the guys that worked at the video game company with me yesterday. They want to get together and make a game just for fun after we got home from our day jobs and they asked me to be the artist. Feeling confident and practically pain free all over, I said "yes!" without a second thoughts. I explained my "RSI" situation to the boys and they all agreed I could work slowly if necessary. I just wanted to cover my bases, in case my TMS got out of hand for some other reason (grandmother has cancer right now, etc, stresses of life)

    I love making video game art and I've missed it. It's fun for me and I wanted some of that fun back. An artist can not live on graphic design alone!

    I went to bed and feel asleep quickly. I woke up in the middle of the night in terrible pain. My left elbow was killing me and I had a million thoughts racing though my mind.

    "It's been a year since you've made game art!"
    "Your left arm used to hurt so bad when you used to tried to make game art"
    "What if you're a huge failure and can't finish anything and the game flops b/c of your elbow!"
    "The guys are going to be pissed at you for failing them!"
    "Just quit right now!"
    "It hurts to use a tablet!" (using a tablet and the piece of paper for drawing is pretty much the same motion, yet using paper never hurts me?)

    Now, how could I have hurt my elbow in the middle of the night from about 1 hour of drawing the day before and sleeping? It doesn't make sense. I know that I'm terrified to fail even this laid back game schedule, so my arm hurts.

    I'm trying very hard to tell it that I can make any art I want. I'm going to at least start.

    I'm not an expert in TMS at all but, I find that trying to find "parts that don't make sense" helps me - among other things. It's illogical that only an hour of drawing and sleep can cause such great pain. I also never have pain typing but have pain drawing?

    I hope this helps!

    Good luck, never give up!
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
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  9. Glass

    Glass New Member

    I think that's been a big part of why it's been hard for me to except the diagnosis completely. The pain always seemed pretty strongly correlated to the amount of typing I've been doing.

    I've been doing a lot of typing the last few days, in large party trying to convince myself that typing is not something I am going to be afraid of. In turn, my arms continue to get more and more inflamed the more I type. When I stop typing, my arms slowly get less inflamed, though they never back anywhere near back to 100%. I can't think of a single instance where the pain as been "random" so to speak.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  10. jazzhands

    jazzhands Peer Supporter

    I had a similar problem. I can tell you that although the pain would increase with typing, as well as with other RSI-associated activities (chopping onions etc), it was never acute. I would never hit the letter T and suddenly feel a shot of pain. I'd be typing up a storm, think, "hey, I've been typing a whole lot" and what do you know soon my hands would be on fire. The pain is certainly not random -- your mind knows what activities cause "repetitive strain injury" and punishes you for participating in them.

    What are you doing in order to make progress? Have you taken up journaling/meditation/any of the wonderful programs on the wiki?
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  11. jazzhands

    jazzhands Peer Supporter

    Ah, and I would also say that my pain was entirely of the dull ache variety. My hands felt cold (perhaps due to oxygen deprivation if that is indeed the mechanism of action of TMS) and would occasionally go numb. I wouldn't say it was sharp but it was certainly debilitating
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  12. Glass

    Glass New Member

    I've been doing journaling and affirmations. Also a lot of talking to my brain. I should look more into the programs on the wiki.

    It's encouraging to hear from others in similar situations, who've been able to overcome it!

    I don't know if anyone else has suffered from this, but in even mildly cold situations, my hands have started to suffer from this as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynaud's_phenomenon . It's especially annoying while riding a motorcycle in the cold. It makes it hard to feel the clutch/brake...
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  13. Waterbear

    Waterbear Peer Supporter

    Keep it up, Glass!

    I agree that typing is probably a "trigger" for you. My left knee flips out when I step on a treadmill, yet I can climb stairs fine?

    I have my first meeting for the video game in 1 hour and now the right arm hurts and not the left. I'm going to tell it who's boss. I'll definitely be journaling and meditating tonight though. Maybe some tea too. Check out the Mindful meditation thread, it's helping me a lot.

    Have you tried doing other "tests" to prove your TMS wrong? Try typing something not work related, or throw a ball around or draw/write with a pencil. All those actions use the same forearm and hand muscles. I bet they wont hurt very much if at all. Drawing on a tablet is my trigger so typing doesn't bother me most of the time. I can throw a ball, and I can draw with a pencil. I can paint too.

    I like to do those other things and then say "see brain, you're so full of crap. Look, I'm drawing with a pencil right now. Look!"

    Hope this helps.
  14. Waterbear

    Waterbear Peer Supporter

    Oh yeah, the other section: Raynauds.

    I've said before on these forums that most of my family has it. I've always had it, so it might be real. However, I think we all might have a bit of TMS too. I get it mostly in my feet since I've always had it, I never stressed it. My little kid brain just said, "I have cold feet" and that's all it was. One day I was at the doctors for plantar warts and he told me I had it. I shrugged and said, "My feet are always a bit cold." I get the blue/purple skin thing on my feet.

    I do lose feeling in them from time to time (at times it'll feel like I'm walking on wooden stumps) but it leaves in about 1 hour. Perhaps b/c I've never stressed it; it can't really take hold? All I can say is try not to stress it. You might really lose feeling sometimes and eventually it will come back. It sort of feels like tingling a bit and you'll feel the appendage relax. Warm showers do help but aren't necessary.

    I wear socks all the time b/c I do get "cold feet" easily. I often wear gloves because I get "cold hands" too.

    It doesn't effect my life AT ALL. I keep walking around like normal and it snaps out of it. I do think it will be interesting if it goes away as I learn about TMS.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2014
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  15. HilaryN

    HilaryN New Member

    Hang in there, Glass. I, too, thought it wasn't working because I didn't get an immediate cure, but I went back to it and persevered and have now been totally cured for years.
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  16. HilaryN

    HilaryN New Member

    PS Don't overdo it - it takes a while to recondition your brain. Just build up gradually. See my story on my profile.
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  17. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes Glass start the SEP, you will get a lot of answers there to your questions as you go.
    Here is a very good post talking about Renaud's syndrome and look at the second or third reply.
    You will see Ellen mention how her Renaud's was merely tms. :)
  18. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think the clue that y0ur RSI is probably a TMS symptom comes at the end of your sentence above: like "my hands are cold, like they do not get enough blood"; in other words they are oxygen-deprived. I will add the following quote from Chapter 28 "Breath In . . . and Don't Forget the Out Part" of Steve Ozanich's book The Great Pain Deception (2011) that Herbie, Forest and I discussed (with a lot of much appreciated help from njoy and Northstar!) last night on the Book Discussion Webinar:

    "Like Dr. Sarno, Majid Ali, MD, founder and professor of medicine at the former Capital University of Integrative Medicine, discovered that pain results from oxygen deprivation, a product of 'dysfunctional oxygen metabolism' in intracellular activity".

    Dr Sarno believes that oxygen deprivation to nerves, muscles and tendons is due to psychological tension produced by emotions, typically rage, that you've been repressing into your unconscious mind in the primitive region of the brain. So if your work at the computer is making you internally angry, it's no accident that your TMS pain symptoms are manifesting in your hands, the area you must use to work the keyboard on your PC, Mac or dumb terminal. This is actually very typical with TMS sufferers where the pain shows up in an area central to their lives, like a wide receiver coming up with a ham string pull, or a golfer getting pain in his lower back, or a runner getting pain problems in his or her feet. The unconscious seems to select the affected area according to where your ego is investing a large portion of your self-image; hence, a musician will have pain in the elbows only when he or she is playing their favorite instrument, like a piano forte or an violin (but not at other times).

    So, to answer your question, yes, I for one believe what you're experiencing is TMS-related; that is, baring any other undiagnosed medical condition. I noticed that when I started back rock climbing in the gym that one day my left hand started to have a dull ache similar to what you describe. But it came out of nowhere when I wasn't doing any more strenuous exercise than I'd done previously. In fact, it came on when I was doing less strenuous things and seemed to have what you might call, "a life of its own". But once I made the connnection: left lower back pain = TMS so left hand pain = TMS, too, the pain in my hand began subsiding as I paid less and less attention to it. What I was doing was not obsessing about the pain and not investing my ego-based identity in it like there was something physically broken. Then, it just went away. I know it's easier said than done to not obsess about your symptoms. But I think you ought to adopt whatever mindfulness techniques it may take to detach your awareness from your symptoms. Herbie's advice above about starting the SEP sounds spot on to me.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2014
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  19. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    Yeah, what Bruce said,
  20. Trevor Brown

    Trevor Brown New Member

    I've been reading this thread and wondering if you have had any success. I know this was posted close to two years ago and am going through some of these same symptoms.

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