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Knee pain TMS?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Dfrancks, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. Dfrancks

    Dfrancks Newcomer

    I am 17 and have had debilitating knee pain for 3 months that has taken me from a super active athlete to a depressed teenager. My MRI and X-rays are clean, cortisone shots didn't provide any relief, and my doctors have said anxiety could be the primary cause. Every time walk or stand it feels like my muscles and tendons are all pulling wrong and I can't stand correctly. I feel lost in the pain and can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Could this all be TMS? Has anyone heard of anything similar?
  2. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi Dfrancks,

    Yes, it could be TMS. The symptoms you've described are similar to those that many people with TMS have. Some steps to take are to confirm with your doctor that he or she doesn't think you have any structural issue, then read and learn about TMS and see if it rings a bell with you. For example, if you go to the home page of the wiki, click on the links to "So You Think You Might Have TMS" and "An Introduction to TMS." Those are good starting places. Also please know that anxiety is a "TMS equivalent" - an alternative to pain that your brain uses to create fear and keep you distracted from your feelings. If you decide that the TMS diagnosis fits, doing the Structured Education Program ("SEP") on the Forum is an excellent tool for recovery.

    Congratulations to you for the initiative you're taking to manage your own health! Sunny
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Dfrancks. I echo the reply from Sunny. It does seem like you have TMS because tests have not shown anything structural.
    One of the most common symptoms of TMS is anxiety. Most of us suffer from it. Many of us have learned ways to reduce it.
    Teenagers can be anxious for many reasons.

    The Structured Education Program is a very good place to learn how to recover and be well again. You may have some repressed emotions from childhood, present conditions that "trigger" past emotions, or you may have a perfectionist personality or a "goodist" person who tries too hard to please people and for everyone to approve of and like you. We all need to modify those traits.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi D,

    Those are some smart doctors, and you are very lucky they told you this! And, congratulations to you for listening to them and finding out about TMS so early in your life! (Do we love the Internet, or what?). We have members here of all ages, which makes this a really interesting community of people with many different life experiences, and we're happy to have you join us.

    I wish I'd been able to learn about TMS the first time a doctor told me that there didn't seem to be anything wrong with me apart from anxiety. I was 18, about to go off to college, and my symptom was digestive issues. It was the first of many different symptoms over the years that would appear for a while, then go away whenever a doctor would tell me that there didn't seem to be anything wrong, but that I seemed anxious, or stressed out. But as I got older, the symptoms started coming back, building up, and getting worse until, at age 60, I was in danger of becoming house-bound and disabled by the symptoms, the anxiety, and by a serious threat of depression.

    I'm 64 now, and I was essentially healed within less than a year of discovering Dr. Sarno and this forum. I still have a few symptoms that come and go, but I just deal with them using the psychological practices I learned by doing this work, or sometimes I just ignore them until they go away. The best part is that I live without fear and without anxiety or depression. You can too!

    Sunny has given you some great places to start, and she has also told you that anxiety is considered to be a "TMS equivalent" by Dr. Sarno and many other mind-body health professionals. My personal experience has convinced me this is true.

    I'm trying to think about which of Dr. Sarno's books might be the best one for you to read first, or whether another TMS book would be better - does anyone have any ideas? Probably The MindBody Prescription, because that's the book where Dr. Sarno describes the many other conditions besides back pain which are TMS. Knee pain is very common, along with foot, ankle, leg, hip, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and just about any joint you can name. My personal form of chronic pain that disappeared after learning about TMS was neck pain, which my brain had "remembered" from a skiing accident in my thirties.

    If you stick around here long enough, you'll start to learn about the fascinating neuroscience behind pain and the brain. Pain is not as straightforward as most people think it is.

    Please be sure to let us know if you have any questions - that's what we're here for, because we are all in this together!

    Sienna, SunnyinFL and mike2014 like this.
  5. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    It suddenly occurred to me that we might recommend a book for anxiety that has helped a LOT of people: it's a little book Dr. Claire Weekes called Hope & Help For Your Nerves. It was the second book I read after Dr. Sarno and it really helped me get over my chronic anxiety. Available on Amazon and probably at your local library (my library has all her books).
  6. Dfrancks

    Dfrancks Newcomer

    Wow, thanks so much for this thoughtful response! I am honestly still very unsure about this diagnoses so I feel some trepidation to begin. I keep searching for a description of the twisting sensation around my knee and the muscle dysfunction that I am experiencing to give me reassurance that it could be psychosomatic. But with all the treatment I've already tried I guess I have nothing to lose right now!
    I am definitely a perfectionist and type-A personality so that is consistent with the TMS profile as well. I just hope this can be resolved somehow.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Or as we like to say here, nothing to lose but your pain! And a few bucks here and there for books (all of which I was able to get at my library to begin with, but after reading them I wanted my own copies, but then I started giving those away, so then I had to get the Kindle editions for myself... )(Amazon is my friend.)

    Sounds familiar! Not your symptoms, but the fact that lots of new members are looking for an exact match to their symptoms. They typically don't find it, because our brains are tricky beasts which are really good at creating symptoms that no one else has. When we talk about our symptoms here, we keep it pretty general. "Knee pain" is good enough for our discussions.

    The thing is, all pain messages originate in the brain. That is a fact of neuroscience. Normally, pain is created by the brain in response to a danger signal from a nerve somewhere in your body - like at the site of an injury. But not always. We know for sure that the brain can create very real pain in body parts that no longer exist - this is the well-documented phenomenon of phantom limb pain. In TMS, the brain creates pain for its own purpose, which is to distract you from negative emotions that it thinks are too dangerous for you to experience.

    Keep reading here on the forum and on the main wiki. The more you understand the mechanism of TMS, and the more you believe that you are in charge of what goes on in your body, the more likely you are to recover.

    I recommend reading at least one success story per day from the Success Stories subforum. Also check out the Thank You Dr. Sarno website - it's quite inspiring.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
    Sienna, SunnyinFL and Dfrancks like this.
  8. Mtngal

    Mtngal Well known member

    Hi dfranks. Just thought you might be interested to hear that Dr. Schechter, one of a few well known TMS docs got into this area because he too had bad knee pain with normal test results. As a medical student he went to see Dr. Sarno who said to him "most of these pain syndromes are psychosomatic. What do you think about that"? Fortunately for Dr. Schechter he was open to the idea, attended Dr. Sarnos lectures and his knee pain vanished! He was able to run and play basketball again. You are so young but very perceptive and obviously open to the TMS concept. And as Jan said you had some smarter docs than the rest of us when they mentioned anxiety as a possible factor in this whole thing. You are on the right track. Persevere and you will be ok!
    SunnyinFL, Dfrancks and JanAtheCPA like this.
  9. AdamRelus

    AdamRelus New Member


    I am a runner who spent almost 2 years trying to solve a physical problem with my knee. I recently came here and after reading Dr. Sarno and soaking up all the info from contributors here I have found relief by understanding TMS.

    I want to offer my encouragement as there is so much fear today around the sport, so much that one always hears that there are runners who are injured and runners who are about to be injured. I found I fell into that trap, and when my anxiety rises my TMS tries to present where I am most afraid and that's my fear that I am somehow predisposed to being in pain because I run.

    It really sunk in for me when I recognized that fear. When those thoughts creep in I search my mind for the reason I am anxious and focus on that. I can't change who I am but I am so much better at understanding myself now.

    I can relate, I was so sure that I was physically jacked up my brain would paint this picture that my IT band was so tight that it was rubbing on bone and just ripping itself to shreds. After coming to the diagnosis of TMS I just kept telling myself that there was NO way that was the case. All this evolution of the human body and I can't run down the street? Boo that. Steadily I found that during running it didn't hurt and that my pain bouts didn't coincide with my runs.

    Keep learning, don't fear any setbacks, remember the psychological wins with your subconscious.

    You ROCK! So glad you found this place.
    Sienna, SunnyinFL and JanAtheCPA like this.
  10. Dfrancks

    Dfrancks Newcomer

    Wow I have literally said the words "my knees are ripping to shreds"! I am so glad to hear that someone has overcome this. Sadly I went for a run yesterday and the pain was so crushing in so many places that I got home in tears. Do you have advice for how to resume activity with a more positive outcome? This is all still hard for me to grasp. Thanks!
    Sienna and SunnyinFL like this.
  11. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    It takes a 180 degree mind shift.
    Listen to the negative messages your brain is giving you and replace them with different messages.
    Don't expect instant results, don't push yourself so hard, start slowly and gently
    Talk to your brain and visualize healthy knees
    Give your body and mind time to get used to a new way of being
    Work on your anxiety (Claire Weekes).
    Understand that as you do this work, your brain will fight back, but always know that you are ultimately in charge.
    Sienna and SunnyinFL like this.
  12. AdamRelus

    AdamRelus New Member

    I started journaling everything in the past that bothered me, I posted here and read a lot. I noticed it helping with my pain, for me once I had that confirmation that I was affecting my pain by better understanding TMS I was encouraged and excited to run.

    I had a mantra during my runs saying "nothing structurally is wrong with me." Over and over.
    Sienna, SunnyinFL and JanAtheCPA like this.
  13. AdamRelus

    AdamRelus New Member

    Also as Jan says the pain will fight back, it fights me. When it does I write and read to help reinforce to my subconscious. And I win the battle, the pain subsides and I continue. I am still new to TMS but I feel proud to have gained a level of control and will keep fighting. Learning will only help and can't ever hurt. There is so much support around here and success stories, keep reading it helps big time.
    SunnyinFL and JanAtheCPA like this.
  14. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Over and over. And over again :D
    SunnyinFL and AdamRelus like this.
  15. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi Dfrancks,
    Every time you post, I am amazed and inspired all over again by how mature and insightful you are for your age! Everyone has given you great advice - I'm especially happy to hear others (Jan and AdamRelus) giving you such great advice about the persistence and repetition that most of us need to recover. For the running, start slowly. Go one block, one block more, etc. Each seemingly "little" success is actually a huge success. And, as they've said, say the mantras over and over and over again to reprogram your brain. As the others have said, keep reading, keep writing, keep up your positive self-talk - your conscious brain will win the battle if you keep at it - you will literally be reprogramming your brain, which is a pretty cool thing to learn how to do! And, again, congratulations for all the steps you're taking! Sunny
    Sienna and AdamRelus like this.
  16. Dfrancks

    Dfrancks Newcomer

    I have been struggling to ignore the popping and clicking sensations in my knees although my sports med doctor said they weren't of concern. I guess accepting the diagnoses is really proving difficult for me.
  17. AdamRelus

    AdamRelus New Member

    I remember distinctly during my struggle that I would analyze every sound and movement. I was obsessed with finding the root cause of the issue. I was overly tuned into the physical aspect of my body and under tuned to the mental aspect. Connecting my mental state to the physical is the journey I continue on everyday. I was in a position where I just ran out of things to get checked...

    Knee MRI - Nothing
    Ankle MRI - Nothing
    Hip MRI - Nothing
    HIP CT - Nothing
    HIP Cortisone Injection - No help
    Back X-Rays - Nothing
    Professional Video Running Gait Analysis - Great form, no reason to be hurt.

    3 different therapists (Including an in home physical therapist because my wife is a Doctor of Physical Therapy!! Crazy right? But true..)

    Sometimes things just have to run the course I guess...

    Hopefully you will find your path soon!!
    Sienna, JanAtheCPA, SunnyinFL and 2 others like this.
  18. Mtngal

    Mtngal Well known member

    AdamRelus I was really needing your post right now. I'm struggling with recurrence of mid and lower back pain.
    Gotten rid of it before with TMS thinking and virtually unlimited including playing raquetball, running etc. Well guess what I just said the heck with it and went running anyway and had minimal to no pain. Yet still have pain standing. I am really tuned into the fact that I feel my vertebrae shifting in my low back. The fact that dfranks feels like her knee is "ripping" to shreds" just shows how we can get so focused on every little thing in our bodies. Major distraction. The purpose of TMS. Glad to know others out there obsess about thing too. But eventually as you say sometimes you just have to let things go. Just wondering what your PT wife thinks of TMS.
    JanAtheCPA and SunnyinFL like this.
  19. AdamRelus

    AdamRelus New Member

    Mtngal - She knows the mind sends pain signals, she has seen the change in me and supports my diagnosis. She is quick to point out that each case is different and there are times when we do have physical problems. But the thing to remember is she doesn't have TMS so I can't expect her to completely understand but what I am grateful for is that she has been so there for me when I need to share my anxieties and just talk about what I think my subconscious is hiding. BIG help for me. And as a bonus it has brought us closer NO one cares about me like she does and my health and happiness is important to her no matter how we get there.

    I seriously think about these cavemen running from predators and think were they really hiding in their caves trying to solve lateral leg pain? Or lower back pain? Ha! No!
    Our bodies don't shred themselves when we bend over wrong or sit a certain way. Now if I jump off my deck and tear my ACL sure...but guess what? That HEALS. So why wouldn't my inexplicable lateral knee pain go away? Answer: My subconscious is being a brat and needs a timeout so I try to tap into it and figure out why :)
    wonderwoman, JanAtheCPA and SunnyinFL like this.
  20. Dfrancks

    Dfrancks Newcomer

    This reminds me of what my dad has been saying through my whole ordeal: "I just don't accept that a seventeen year old can randomly develop leg pain that persists for a lifetime. I don't accept that your legs have gone wrong."
    But oh man, it feels that way!!!
    And I did have a physical therapist tell me to only stand a certain way and only sit a certain way and that has really stuck in my mind. Ugh.
    This is incredibly challenging when I feel like my knees are twisting so much.
    But you give me hope.
    JanAtheCPA and SunnyinFL like this.

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