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Looking for Guidance on Pain/Numbness Increase

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Hamed, Dec 17, 2017.

  1. Hamed

    Hamed New Member

    Hello All,

    I'm new to the TMS forums, but I've been studying TMS and working on my healing now for approximately 3 months. I've read Dr. Sarno's 'Healing Back Pain,' 'The Mindbody Prescription,' and 'The Divided Mind.' I've also read Steve O's GPD book and Fred Amir's 'Rapid Recovery' book. I've also been in therapy since then, which seems to help somewhat.

    Last April I was diagnosed with disc protrusions at L4/L5/S1 and nerve impingement causing numbness down my left leg and into the toes of my left foot in addition to severe debilitating back pain that kept me out of work for about a month, and that made life a living hell for the next five months. I declined surgery and injections and opted for PT instead. I even got off the hard Pain meds within two weeks of my original diagnosis. Since last April, my recovery was slow, uneven, and painful, until I discovered Dr. Sarno's work in September. Since then, I've made leaps and bounds in my progress. I'm now about 85% healed and exercising every day. I'm applying healing principles from each of the aforementioned books and the one I remind myself of constantly is "ignoring the pain" or as Steve O put it "leaning into the pain." Unfortunately, I'm experiencing slight increases in pain when I do this. For example, I like to carry my five year old daughter up the two flights of stairs of our home at night before bed (she calls it Daddy Elevator). When I do this, I notice an increase in the numbness and stiffness in my left leg. Just recently, I went bowling with some co-workers and could only bowl one game because the stiffness in my left low back and leg was on the rise. Since that night, I'm feeling an aching in my left buttock as well (something new). So to sum up, I'm just worried that as I increase my activity levels due to pain levels decreasing, I'm conversely increasing pain levels which gives me doubt or at least diminishes some of my confidence in the TMS self-diagnosis. Has anyone here experienced this and just decided to push through and continue ignoring pain and actually had the pain decrease or resolve altogether? Based on their books, I know Steve O and Fred Amir have, but I'm hoping there are others out there who also have eliminated the numbness/stiffness/weakness in their legs/feet/toes by simply applying TMS recovery principles and by ignoring the increase in those sensations with activity. Thanks in advance for your guidance.
    plum likes this.
  2. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Hamed,

    Welcome to the forums! Recall that your diagnosis of disc protrusion as causing numbness and back pain is TMS (incidentally, I have herniated discs at the same level and had very similar symptoms that were fully cured by TMS methods). It's great that you're exercising again! Remember the role of conditioning- sounds like it is playing a big role in your pain. The movements that cause you increased pain are most likely doing so because of conditioned patterns- your brain has associated specific movements with those sensations. The best approach you can take is simple- to tell yourself it is simply conditioning and that your back is perfectly normal. I had to push through a bit of symptom increase at first, as many here did. But in time, it diminished. The increase in sensation is definitely driven by fear and anxiety, Alan Gordon speaks to this a lot in his TMS recovery program on this site. Might help to take a look at that! Hope that helps...know that your experience is normal and many of us had the same issues.
    plum and Hamed like this.
  3. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Check...been there, done that. I think most of us on the forum who came with that 'diagnosis' had those symptoms. Resolved completely 110 per cent....the ten extra is that I no longer fear any activity. I haven't read any of those other books...just HBP by Sarno (about 12 dozen times!) When your that near to recovery the issues of conditioning and suppressed anger are important to look at. Of course it tries new things (your butt)... and of course it's conditioning combined with rage....dirty rage we can't admit.
    Long before I finally succumbed to TMS My first early symptom was a numbness in my shoulder whenever I would do household chores. I could bench press 225, and work hard all day at work, but washing dishes and folding laundry made my shoulder go ice cold/numb. Our culture keeps telling men that we need to do X and X and X to be good parents, but our subconscious that evolved over thousands of years tells us to fight, provide, excel... not to be maids or Nurses. Sorry to my intersectional feminist friends ahead of time.
    Doesn't mean you have to stop doing it....only admit that you'd rather be f-ing and fighting and winning... I was a stay at home dad for awhile too... Oh yeah. Ouch.

    It does go away. Keep digging!
    plum and Hamed like this.
  4. Hamed

    Hamed New Member

    It is absolutely invigorating to hear from wonderful people like MindBodyPT and Baseball65 encouraging me with positivity and motivational words! Thank you both so much for your kind words. I’ve felt so alone with this condition for the last eight months. My friends are tired of hearing about it and my wife is ready to personally realign my spine with her meat tenderizer if I complain anymore (which incidentally I hardly do anymore since learning about TMS). Just knowing that other folks out there had this scary numbness and weakness and are now walking around without it gives me tremendous hope. I’m almost there. I can feel it. Just need to dive deeper into my personal rage to find the light that isn’t snuffed out, just obscured at the moment.
    MindBodyPT and plum like this.
  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle


    Welcome to the forum. I simply wanted to let you know how refreshing and endearing your opening messages are. Sometimes a person like your good self comes around and as a TMS veteran I just know in my bones that you have exactly the right attitude and spirit to kick your pain and problems into the long grass.

    I've experienced facial numbness on the opposite side to the one which I have neuralgia and it really worried me for a while. That was about 10-11 years ago and it disappeared by itself. I had a brief recurrence recently which I know is due to stress and it has completely come again. It's apparently due to T4, one of the thoracic vertebrae, but I don't give it a second thought these days.

    Aside from the TMS work you're already doing, I recommend lots of relaxation, both physical and mental. It does well to consolidate the gains and balance too much pushing to heal.

  6. Hamed

    Hamed New Member

    Hi Plum!

    Thank you for sharing and your kind advice! I’m sorry to hear that you had a recurrence of pain, but thrilled that it was short-lived and hardly registered with you. That’s where I hope to be one day. Hardly noticing the pain no matter how intense it gets. I’ve been trying progressive guided relaxation (I found these really good free guided relaxation exercises from Dartmouth College: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/downloads.html (Relaxation Downloads)) twice a day. Once in the wellness room at work, and once before bed time. It seems to help, especially when I’m experiencing a flare up of pain during the course of the day, to recall the exercises as needed.

    plum likes this.
  7. eightball776

    eightball776 Well known member

    I'm wondering if any of you know about the potential long-term consequences of that impinged nerve root. Even if TMS is what decides to turn that squashed nerve into pain/swelling/numbness, etc., I'm concerned it could develop into something more serious. Anyone know of any data on the subject?
  8. Hamed

    Hamed New Member

    Hi Eightball,

    I have made HUGE strides in the last 6 months since this post. My nerve symptoms are all but gone. It’s like someone is lowering the volume on them one day at a time. It’s been a hell of a journey, literally, but I’m so much stronger because of it. I plan on writing a success story soon, but want to conquer a few more goals before I do. Nonetheless I know TMS is real because I’ve seen it exposed in myself. And every step I’ve taken to overcome fear has turned into a huge leap forward. I haven’t been on this forum in a long time, and only logged in now because you replied on my thread from a while back. So here’s the advice I can offer from my own experience:

    1. Be seen by an actual TMS doctor. Dr. Andrea Leonard-Segal saved my life the day she looked me in the eye and said I have TMS and to “rejoice” in the diagnosis. It doesn’t matter if you have to fly halfway across the world, or simply take a walk down the street to your local TMS doc. Make the trip, it’s life-changing and it’s worth it. And it’s of the utmost importance to rule out anything structurally significant.

    2. TMS recovery is not alternative medicine, because there is no alternative to it. You must BELIEVE in the diagnosis and ERADICATE the fear. It can be overnight or more likely incremental as it was with me and countless others. But the fear has to go because it is what fuels the pain. Plain and simple.

    3. Dr. Sarno wrote that the human spirit is more or less indomitable. They are the most powerful words he’s ever written in my opinion. BELIEVE them. Find that strength in yourself. No one else can find it for you. Not a doctor or a therapist or a loved one. Only you. This is the most personal battle any of us will ever fight. There is an animal in each of us. It’s caged in pain right now. But it’s not defeated, only dormant. Open the cage and unleash it. Let it run fast and hard and feel your strength build inside. This feeling is the antithesis of TMS. Play a song that makes your whole body vibrate with strength and energy and kick FEAR in the ass.

    4. Get out and live your life. Re-engage with the things you love and the people you love. For me it hurt to get out and live, and in a few weeks it didn’t. The difference? Fear was replaced by excitement that I was enjoying life again. The more you live and the more you advance in your goals you will discover that you think less and less about pain, even when it hits again. And when it does hit again, at least for me, it’s far less in intensity and usually correlates directly with a current life stressor, making it all the less concerning.

    5. Get mindful. Perform mindfulness exercises a few times a day for any length of time. Practice deep breathing and incorporate it in your daily life each time you feel anxiety or anger or any other extreme emotion buiiding. You need to level yourself out. Us TMSers are on overdrive constantly. As you slow your whole being down, everything comes into focus and your body just begins to feel relaxed more. Notice how tense you hold yourself constantly. When you notice, relax yourself physically. Just melt into your chair or let your body just loosen. None of this will make the pain go away in the moment, but it’s cumulative so that over time, your body is being reprogrammed to seek a relaxed state rather than a tense state.

    I hope this information helps. Good luck!

    suky, HattieNC, Lizzy and 2 others like this.
  9. Hamed

    Hamed New Member

    One more thing...

    6. TMS healing is non-linear as SteveO, Alan Gordon, and so many others have experienced. It’s okay if you’re feeling fantastic one day and back in pain city the next. TMS ebbs and flows with the activity of our minds, more specifically our emotions. Just as a non-TMSer can feel like a million bucks one day and the next feel like a train wreck, TMS symptoms can follow the same pattern. Just keep focusing on that BELIEF in TMS.

    There’s only one way home, friend. Life. Live it or don’t. It’s all up to you.
    suky and HattieNC like this.
  10. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member


    I was half way writing a desperate post, hesitating to post it because i know that being here is also once again obsessing
    So deleted it and just too a short peak on the last posted items
    And : there was yours
    And its just what i needed to read this early sunday morning : so
    Thank you!!
    HattieNC and Hamed like this.
  11. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Dear Hamed,
    Thank you for your encouraging post! Reading it made me really happy, not only that you have found your way but also that you outlined the path for others with out the five points! I cannot agree more with you. All five I find important. While in the process one might temporarily focus more on one of the five points, but in the end it is so important to work on all these levels. I had to learn that getting better and to live my life again also has to do with my social life. Self-centredness is not the answer. All the relaxations, journaling and meditations in the world cannot bring you to a really satisfying life. That has already been stated by the Ancient Philosophers ... we tend to forget it in our individualistic modern world.
    Again, thank you so much! And I am looking forward to the success story!
    HattieNC and Hamed like this.
  12. Hamed

    Hamed New Member

    Karina, I’m so glad my post helped. I’ve been there too. I used this site as a place of reassurance and comfort on my journey, and I’m so excited I’ve been able to pay some of that comfort and reassurance forward.

    I completely agree, and did just that. There have been times where belief alone has pulled me out of the pits of despair. Others times it has been mindfulness meditations and many times it’s been Outcome Independence. These days I am happy to report that I find myself spending about 95% of my time thinking about life, goals, and my children instead of how bad something hurts or where it’s hurting. And it’s a snowballing effect, so that the more life I live and the more I accomplish, the better I feel, and topple larger and larger obstacles. TMS is a farce but it’s also a gift as Dr. Sarno once described it. We suffer until we’re done suffering. It’s really that simple. And when we’re done, we find new strength in us we never knew was there.
    Time2be and Lizzy like this.
  13. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    I made a printscreen of this quote and put it on my phone
    Thank you very much !
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
    Time2be and Hamed like this.
  14. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    This is exactly where i am at ..
    Been there, done that .. now time
    to ‘satisfy my soul’ like bob marley
    already sung
    Brings on the next question : what is satisfying to me ?
    Lately realizing that this search for ‘healing ‘ all the journaling , thinking , analyzing is taking tons of energy which i am not putting in other life areas ..
    Time2be likes this.
  15. eightball776

    eightball776 Well known member

    Thanks mate. I really appreciate the support & feedback. Much of our approach & way of thinking about this is similar, but I must be going off the rails somewhere. My responses below might seem pessimistic, but something's going on that's keeping me stuck. I don't think it's the carefully choreographed re-exposure to the standard back pain industry or the doctors shaking my confidence in the TMS diagnosis. Although each accept that stress plays a role, they all bristle at the suggestion it could be the primary cause in place of the inflammation or that compressed nerve root on the MRI.

    I went to see Dr. Rashbaum in NYC for exactly this purpose. After all, this is where I saw Dr. Sarno 20+ years ago, beginning that life-changing experience that saw my debilitating back pain cured after a few weeks of education. Although part of me wishes I never had that experience, because these days, paradoxically, it seems only to cause more anger by raising the obvious & unanswerable question - why can't I duplicate even a fraction of that initial success? Dr. Rashbaum provided exactly what I went there looking for - someone in a white coat to tell me my back pain is TMS and nothing more.

    Accepting the diagnosis was really all I needed to eliminate my back pain that first time around, so I never had to confront the question I face now, which is what to do after a decade goes and all of my experiences with TMS & the back pain industry...all of the intellectualizing, introspection, and never-ending analysis & recognition of my repressed anger...haven't moved the needle even slightly. The 1st time around, the pain would switch sides, come and go, and I could participate in physical activity (though I paid for it afterwards). My diagnosis depended on the doctor. This time, all of the doctors say the same thing, and I'm exhibiting the symptoms expected from the pathology on the images.

    My gastroenterologist tells me I have one problem. Crohn's Disease, the demon from which everything else originates. Dr. Sarno told me it isn't always necessary to recognize every source of stress/anger. He also posited that my Crohn's Disease & TMJ are TMS equivalents, but those things began at age 6. No matter how much psychologists try to convince me that there must have been some kind of traumatic experience going on, I just can't recall any. The lion's share of my repressed anger & stress comes from the damn chronic pain - that chicken came before the damn egg!

    My gastro has a point in that when I manage to substantially reduce the systemic inflammation, my back pain does substantially improve. Unfortunately my tolerance for steroids has reached heights that make it impossible to take enough to do the job. The problem is, everything contributes to inflammation. Stress, hormones, diet, Crohn's, etc. The surgeons can't cut out inflammation, so while surgery can relieve pressure on the nerve, it can't stop the back pain. The nerve issues are only annoying now, so I'd never consider operating on something that's just annoying, but when my leg 'shuts off' after the hip flexors become fatigued, that is some scary sh*t. Sure, you can then argue that it's that fear that's driving the process, but that doesn't change the fact that there's a nerve that's being damaged - regardless of why - if I wake up one day and my mobility is affected even 10% more than it is today, that'll be enough to lose my independence.

    What I described above is 'fear' I suppose, but really I don't feel like I have any inner strength or any fear of it getting worse. Mostly what I feel is exhaustion. Just sick & tired of being sick & tired. The mental strength will come after I build some physical strength. The autoimmune stuff & chronic anemia make strengthening extremely difficult. Every path forward seems to lead to another obstacle like this one. All of the TMS daily reminders, the thinking psychologically, etc. - none of it brings the energy my body is supposed to be able to derive from nutrition.

    I'm really stuck with this one. Trying to follow the 'don't talk about your pain' rule combined with not appearing outwardly ill often makes social activities excruciating. If I hear one more person compliment me on my weight loss (wasting from malnutrition), I may scream. Every time I try to get back into physical activity, I either hurt myself & set back any physical progress or just get depressed by the increased price in pain that must be paid after activities barely considered 'active'. I tried to play slow-pitch softball at the beginning of the year. I'd 'retired' a few years ago after just becoming disgusted by needing a pinch runner 20 years my senior. Not only was the pain just unbearable, but it was also depressing to see how badly my skills had degraded & the difficulty escaping the depressing possibility that I might just be done with athletics. I'm going to try again with something easier (pickleball), but this avenue that really worked during my last TMS recovery has just not been the same this time.

    Of course I could always be doing more of this...but I'm doing plenty of it. I've made an arrangement with a yoga teacher that's been coaching me through all of this stuff...but while it's what wound up being the final key to conquering my anxiety issues (2 wks after fixing my back pain years ago, I started having anxiety attacks - textbook 'symptom imperative'), it's not helped my current LBP even slightly.
  16. Hamed

    Hamed New Member

    I'm so sorry you're going through so much. I know what it's like to be hit with multiple symptoms, but don't you see? That is all the more reason to rejoice! It's glaring proof that your emotions are wreaking havoc on your body and not your body deteriorating. You have the diagnosis. Now all you need is authentic belief and trust in the diagnosis. The one thing I took from reading your responses (all of which sound so much like my own thinking and fears when I was in the worst phases of TMS) is this incredibly powerful undertow of fear and preoccupation that is dragging you back into pain and discomfort whenever you get even a little ahead. My advice is to let go of all the "should do's" and focus on living and looking for evidence of TMS. That is what promotes and sustains recovery. As you feed yourself happiness, excitement, and joy, you will find yourself thinking less and less about pain and able to focus more and more on what's important (i.e. the things that make you really smile). Just keep reminding yourself, as much as it hurts, as scary as it feels, and as scared as you are of whether it will continue into perpetuity, none of that matters. All that matters is living and seeking pure authentic joy, one day at a time.
    Lizzy likes this.
  17. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Dear eightball, I am also sorry that you have so much to handle at the same time. So, be nice to yourself! I just want to encourage you to look at Crohn’s disease as a TMS equivalent. A friend of mine manages to keep her Crohn’s disease very well with diet, but mostly by being good to herself. It took her some time to discover the connections between emotions, her reactions and the bowel reactions. But when she saw the connections she could start to act on that. And most of the time she is doing just fine. She doesn’t take medicine for her condition. For the diet she tried different things and now she has a very personalized diet, but not very restricted. White sugar is not good, but sometimes she also eats cakes.
    I wish you strength and also to have fun in your life!
  18. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Uuuhh, yes, that’s also for me the difficult part! Right now: sitting in my rocking chair, watching the cat watching the garden. Other times it is really difficult ...
    karinabrown likes this.
  19. karinabrown

    karinabrown Well known member

    Yes, same here. Enjoying my funy dog in the garden. We should all be more like animals. Our dog is old en has health issues but still is laying in the sun doing funny moves towards a butterfky and enjoying himself

    So many times i just cannot relax
    Wondering if tms was complete gone : i bet i found something else to worry about pretty soon. Makes me wonder ..
    Could also be PMS/ perimenopause , one day calmer
    en focussed , next week anxious etc unstable
    or just plain me: analyzing to much ..
    Lainey and Time2be like this.
  20. eightball776

    eightball776 Well known member

    Prednisone & an iron infusion has eliminated about 95% of my pain & I almost feel normal. This tells me inflammation is the primary culprit. Whether that inflammation comes mostly from the Crohn's, the TMS activating the Crohn's - who cares, right - at least it's convincing evidence that I don't need to think about surgery anymore. The CD being a TMS equivalent - yes & no. I can definitely point to patterns of emotional trauma leading to exacerbation of the illness throughout my life. However when I was diagnosed, at around 6-7 years old, I can promise that there was no trace of trauma, stress, or anxiety of any kind that would have conceivably brought on such a serious MBS at that age. If the CD was caused by the TMS, then the whole basis for my 'repressed rage' about being sick so young, well, puts the chicken before the egg. Now the real tough part is trying to figure out how much of this disease is truly within my control. I've been chasing that tail for 30 years. I just stalled on Day 6 of the Structured Education Program because I literally ran out of 'traumatic events' to write about. My anger & anxiety comes from current events. I feel like I'm almost trying to make a past event into something worse than it was so I can find something to write about, but the reality is that I just don't believe there is a connection with some childhood trauma. I'm overly self critical & have all of the TMS personality traits for sure - no doubt I have TMS. The fact that I also have this other autoimmune monster that can wreak havoc even if TMS is taken out of the equation...well, that's why I'm stuck.
    Lizzy likes this.

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