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Musician with arm pain and/or RSI

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by gilbertbr, Oct 7, 2017.

  1. gilbertbr

    gilbertbr New Member

    My name is Gilbert (27) and I am musician, cellist. For 3 years I have problems in both arms, especially in my right arm. This pain came when I started my master and it's focused in the forearm, near the elbow but not at the articulation itself. After any activity, not just with my cello (also with the computer and with my smartphone), it can spread to the hand/fingers or also to my back. I visited a lot of doctors and specialists but I still haven’t found a definitive solution.

    Most of the time during my master I struggled against this feeling of general stiffness and lack of flexibility. I took a long pause (without playing practically) and in some way it was better because I avoided activity that involved my arm. Unfortunately when I retook the activity (not just with the cello, as I said) the pain came again. During this period of time I tried thousands of things, including physiotherapy, yoga, pills, meditation, posture changes, triggerpoints, technique changes...

    Finally, since when I was 19 years old I had a severe backpain and it went away after reading books about TMS (mostly of Dr Sarno), I tried to apply this really useful information to my current situation. Unfortunately I had not the same success with my armpain, despite a lot of good lectures and videos. I wrote extensively about all my anxiety, my frustration, my anger and in someway it felt better, although the pain was quite the same. Given this situation I went also to few TMS specialist, but no one made a successful big picture of my problem.

    No one had truly helped me so I just decided to finish my master in order to be free of any type of obligation and find finally a definitive solution to be able to proceed with my career. I visited again several new specialists, who agreed, after a lot of medical tests (MRI, sonography...) that I had a nerve entrapment in my right forearm (Arcade of Frohse or supinator arch), which might be the source of the pain. After a difficult decision, I chose to get surgery and to try to solve this frustrating situation. The surgery was on the 15th March and it was totally successful. As the doctor said, briefly afterwards I was able to play again but I have still so many symptoms. Of course I know that it needs more time to recover completely but I don't understand why the pain feels as much as before the surgery, not just in my forearm but also until my back. After the surgery I don't know what else I can try, I even could say that I'm totally desperate.

    I add one picture with primitive paintings showing where is my weak point.

    After the surgery I believe that there is nothing wrong with my body (besides the fact that I'm still recovering from this intervention) and that I'm theoretically healthy, but it seems that I cannot move forward yet.

    Thank you very much for your time and patience,


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  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Perhaps a more structured TMS approach would be helpful for you. There is one free on this site called the Structured Education Program (SEP) or there is a good one in the book Unlearn Your Pain by Dr. Schubiner. Also, have you read through Alan Gordon's Recovery Program, also available free on this site.

    It is common for someone to have success ridding themselves of TMS initially, only to then have it emerge in another location and to have recovery be a longer process. It is also common for TMS to strike where it effects us most, e.g. arms for musicians, voice for singers, legs for dancers, etc.

    So I suggest being patient and persistent. Check out all the resources on this site and try all the techniques till you find something that results in improvement. Put "musician" in the search box, and you will find many musicians with TMS and some success stories, too, that may inspire you.

    Best wishes........
    elue, Lily Rose and JanAtheCPA like this.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Gilbert:

    First, I want to apologize for the Chat yesterday - apparently, there were so many participants, that the server was overwhelmed - there may have been other things going on as well, but in any case, Forest tweaked some of the settings, and is looking into possible upgrades for the system.

    I echo everything Ellen said. We see this all the time - people who recovered once from TMS - often just by reading one of Dr. Sarno's books but who find this forum when TMS comes back, worse, some years later. I myself never heard of Dr. Sarno until 2011, but all my life, starting in my teens, I was told that my symptoms were the result of anxiety - and they would go away. This is basically the same experience, right? One symptom would be replaced by something else a year or two later - and go away when I was told there was nothing wrong with me except anxiety.

    So when all kinds of symptoms cropped up and came back and started piling up on me at age 60, I was totally primed to accept TMS when I was fortunate enough to stumble upon The Divided Mind, and then this site. That being said, I experienced about 75% relief immediately upon finishing the book - but I wanted more, and it took what I call "doing the work" to get to where I am today, which is usually between 90-100%. I've had a lifetime of anxiety, and I've still never made the commitment to buckle down and deal with my stress level once and for all - but at 90% or better, I totally got my life back in 2011, at a time when I thought I was on the road to becoming housebound.

    Here's my theory: TMS is a primitive survival mechanism, which interacts perfectly (not for the better) with the fight-or-flight mechanism. We are wired to be negative, constantly scanning the horizon for danger. If we're bogged down with emotions, we might not be alert enough to danger, so our brains create a physical distraction to keep us on our toes. Now, this worked great when we only had to live for a few decades - just long enough to breed and raise the next generation, right? But it doesn't serve us in the modern world with so many minor stresses and so many relationships that we have to deal with, and it certainly doesn't serve us when we know at a very young age that we're looking at many decades of life and stress and worries and responsibilities.

    Most of us are lucky enough to live in societies where there is little, if any, actual physical danger, but our brains are still constantly on the alert, and still scanning for danger, all the time! If you start being truly mindful of your inner dialogue, you will see how true this is.

    As you start doing the work, think about what your brain is worried about - what does it think is threatening your survival? It won't necessarily make sense in the modern world - but your primitive brain doesn't know that. To your brain, that guy who just took the parking place you had your eye on is a serious threat - and your body reacts accordingly.

    Good luck!

  4. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    Hey Gilbert,

    I'll 2nd & 3rd Ellen and Jan's excellent comments above.

    While my experience isn't exactly the same as yours, there are some similarities. I am a guitarist and was diagnosed as tennis elbow. I was afraid to play my guitar and type on the computer. After a bunch of non-invasive treatments an orthopedist finally said I needed surgery. It's funny that at the time I had already recovered from back pain using Dr. Sarno's techniques. But for some reason, I didn't think the tennis elbow was TMS. Probably because the doctor could point to the damaged tendon on the X-ray.

    So I had the surgery, and like you, the pain did not get any better. The ortho was really confounded that I did not improve. Then I had an epiphany! The tennis elbow was in fact TMS. I quit seeing the ortho and the PT; and from that point on I got better and better. Tennis elbow is no longer an issue in my life. I type and play the guitar, piano, and bass for hours and hours with no pain and no issues.

    My mind just had to be convinced. Good luck to you!!
    MindBodyPT and JanAtheCPA like this.
  5. Barkis

    Barkis New Member

    Hi Gilbert

    Same here. A guitarist and designer. After numerous tests from brain scan to nerve studies to bloods nothing showed up. I have been diagnosed with golfers elbow in both hands but my physio pretty much believes it is tension and anxiety related. It’s bizarre how the sensations come and go and vary in intensity. I’ve had extensive mental health intervention for chronic anxiety and from what I hear it commonly affects the hands. Of course anxiety is a manifestation of TMS which I am now exploring.

    The list of practitioners I have seen is immense and all of them have been confounded. I’m now getting tooth pain which doctors dentist and consultants shake their head at. I have had arm and hand trouble for 18 months and it felt better but has kind of come back. I’m now nearly convinced it is TMS.
  6. elue

    elue New Member

    Hey Gilbert,

    I agree with everyone's comments. I was in several rock bands and had hand and wrist pain for years during it. Certain aspects of the industry and performance I absolutely loved, others clashed with my perfectionist tendencies and stressed me out and kicked up a lot of emotions, sometimes with out me really noticing.

    You are also mixing music with your career. My career coming out of college was a different story. I had the pressure to succeed so hard on my back, that within a two weeks I had developed hand pain, allergies and fatigue which all became chronic. I thought there were valid physical reasons for all three. I gave up on general doctors after one year and it only took me 8 years to figure that out what it really was.

    Like they said above. Try something structured and really try to stick to it. Don't be afraid to try new things and dig into places maybe you brushed over in the past.

    I feel ya man. It's rough. Sounds like you're back on the right track. Good luck ✌️

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