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Muscle Guarding from 10+ years of tension?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by BrunoMadrical, Jul 9, 2023.

  1. BrunoMadrical

    BrunoMadrical Newcomer

    Hello, first time poster here and I’d like to share my thoughts, my journey and welcome any communication, feedback and conversation.

    I have had chronic back pain for the past 10 years. I believe it all started when I was an intern at my first job/fortune 500 company and I had a major migraine which I never had before. I got so worked up about it I drove myself to the hospital to get looked at. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew I was getting a spinal tap to rule out menegotis. This was the single most pain I have ever felt in my entire life. It was excruciating and was the first time I ever felt pain like this in my back. It was so bad I was threatinging to hit the doctor if they didn’t stop and they had to bring in security. I felt like I was being tortured and I was alone. I believe this is when it all started. Turns out everything was fine and I was sent home. My pain felt better over the past couple weeks and I was back to normal. I went running a few week later and started having excruciating back pain after running a mile as fast as I could. I couldn’t help but think of this was because the lumbar puncture or something I did while running. A few weeks past and I was fine. Over the next 8 years similar instances happened where I felt like I kept birthing my back and couldn’t help think of something was wrong from the procedure, but then I got better.

    About 2 years ago I decided to try to do somethingabout it structurally to help my back. I started a stretching routine but wasn’t seeing much progress. Then one day out of nowhere I had the most intesnse pain I have ever had In my life. It felt like I was getting lumbar puncture in my living room all due to stretching? I rushed to the er and they said I felt tense and told me it was likely from anxiety that nothing appeared wrong. I saw my primary care doctor and he said probably anxiety and gave me a refferal to a physical therapist. I went to therapy and over the course of 5 weeks I did feel better but I was under so much stress and fear of never getting better and not knowing what the pain was that I was never truly pain free. Throughout all of this I had so much medical anxiety that something was wrong with me. Was it ALS, MS, cancer, spinal tumors, nerve damage etc. I had spinal MRI, X-rays, bloodwork and nothing with any clear eptomology showed up. I always felt like they didn’t look hard enough or were missing something. There is no was i was on that much pain with no definitive reason.

    I feel like after all of these year of subconscious compensatory posture and walking and movement I became so stiff that I did create a structural abnormality in my body that lead to pain. Nowadays I feel it in my left lower back and hip. The left lower back is more of a muscle ache like I just worked out for 5 hours straight, and the hip is more of a sharp pain in the font. It looks and feels like my left leg is longer than my right and I have a misaligned pelvis but I have never been diagnosed as such, but PT did say my left side is weaker than my right, and that I’m not flexible at all and have bad range of motion.

    I stumbled upon Dr sarnos books and listened to the audio versions and genuinely feel like I may have TMS. The problem is I find it very hard to believe that all of the symptoms I’m feeling are psychological, not physical. I’ve read a lot on the pain cycle and somatice and it clearly states that fear of pain can lead to muscle guarding, reduced mobility, weakness, reduced function, and emotional & mental stress. I feel that I have TMS, but I also feel like my subconscious fear of of the current pain is due to years of muscle guarding and compensatory patterns that I’ve developed a structural issue that is atleast partially contributing to the pain.

    I am continuing to educate myself on TMS and the mind body experience but could use some help trying to break through this physical feeling/pain cycle and progress in my TMS journey of becoming pain free.

    I appreciate you.

    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi @BrunoMadrical and welcome to the forum.
    Everything you've described sounds like a good description of the TMS mechanism at work - including the doubt that you are experiencing at this stage. So far so good! Start by giving yourself a LOT of credit for being here and being open to something new. Also always remember to have compassion for yourself during this process, and learn to reassure your poor fearful primitive TMS brain that you are physically safe and that doing this work is perfectly safe.

    Have you checked out the Structured Educational Program (SEP) on the main tmswiki.org site? The program is free and doesn't require any kind of registration or signup - you just go to the first page and start doing it. It's broken down into very time-efficient "Days"and as the name implies, it's a structured way to learn and make progress instead of being overwhelmed by all of the resources that are out there.

    The most important advice I can give you about doing the SEP is to take it slowly, and do not let your brain urge you to race through it. One or maybe two sessions per day, along with some time to read posts here on the forum (especially in the Success Stories subforum) is enough. Trying to get through the SEP quickly will NOT result in faster healing. Take it seriously and let the information have time to sink in. Above all, when you get to the writing exercises, do them with a commitment to be 100% honest with yourself. Your fearful TMS brain will try to convince you that you can ignore things that come up - do not let it do that, and write them down anyway, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. You'll need to keep your "lists" for a short while so that you can write about the topics, but you don't need to keep any of your writing. They call it "journaling" but it's not actually "keeping a journal". By throwing away what you write, you can give yourself the freedom to write whatever comes up from your unconscious repressed emotions and memories, without editing it.

    It is very common to experience worse symptoms as you continue to do the work. People report worse symptoms, new symptoms, old symptoms returning, increased anxiety, and sometimes even depression. This can be tough to face, but the good news is that it is proof that a brain mechanism is at work, not any actual physical pathology. Give yourself extra compassion during this time, maybe take a short break from the lessons and do some research on therapeutic breathing and mindfulness techniques, and start practicing those.

    As I personally experienced when doing the SEP, it's important that you do not skip over something as "not important", because even small things from our childhoods have significance for various reasons. Finding those things and relating them to your role in the adult world, especially your current stress, is the goal. My own experience of doing the writing exercises in the SEP is that I did not uncover anything shocking or horrifying from my childhood, but I did figure out how my lifelong anxiety developed, and I was able to identify times when I felt isolated due to the way my childish protective brain interpreted childhood experiences and family dynamics.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!

    Ellen likes this.
  3. BrunoMadrical

    BrunoMadrical Newcomer

    thanks for the detailed response, I will be sure to check out the SEP. Getting a severe flair up with the amount of stress in my life at the moment which is good and bad I guess. Bad in the sense that it doesn’t feel good, but good in the sense that I didn’t really do anything for this pain/weakness to happen, it’s from stress. The problem is continuing to wire this into my brain so that it doesn’t happen
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    If I was a German Shepherd they would have euthanized me a long time ago."He's gotta be in pain?"
    I one time saw a video of me walking and finally knew why all of my friends make fun of my 'gait'. If you have ever seen the "Planet of the Apes" movies? I look like one of them when I walk...maybe not the hunched back, but the elliptical long stride, dragging a foot like it doesn't work right, or it hurts?
    But it doesn't . My son walks that way and probably has the same issues (longer leg/tilted pelvis)... he is a kick boxer and Baseball pitcher. Maybe he unconsciously walks that way because I did when he was a baby? Who knows. He also is pain free.
    But none of those things are gonna cause Pain. They are just gonna be 'the reason' the medical world will give you to explain your symptoms, but the order of operations is backwards... I never had any symptoms and always walked like that... THEN I got symptoms....then the pain went away and I still walk like that?

    During my odyssey through the pain system a well meaning Ortho once measured me and gave me inserts for my work boots to level me off. All of my pain went away because he TOLD ME IT would and I BELIEVED HIM (placebo effect) But placebo effects only last so long. That is why some of my Friends have had 5-7 surgeries and keep 'believing' in the "Medieval Medical Model" Sarno wrote about.
    You are right! But it isn't 'muscle guarding' (good phrase) but conditioning. The good news is conditioning works both ways. After I read Sarno I had to go through virtually every single activity I had been taught led to pain and do them until that conditioning was broken.... it took a minute but were talking weeks compared to years.

    So I had to go to the batting cages. I had to run. I had to lift 'improperly', bench press, squat etc. Each one of us is different so we need to figure out which sort of exorcism we need to get rid of those 'demons'...

    One of the last ones was....sitting! I could lift weights, work off of a scaffold all day and do 12 hours of work pain free...and then the 40 minute drive home I would get sciatica...sitting in a nice cushy car seat.
    So.. I turned off the radio and talked to my self (raging a little bit) the whole drive home until the TMS finally gave up. I realized that I just hate driving. Period. anything more than 10 minutes creates a lot of anxiety in me...and I lived in LOS ANGELES (Oh no!!)

    That's why we call this 'the work'.. Sarno gives us the info but we are all a little different and the rubber meets the road where we confront those fears and conditioning one at a time. Some take a minute, some of them fall away fast. I prefer the latter

    BrunoMadrical, Ellen and backhand like this.

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