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My Story - I'm New To TMS and Looking For Advice

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Joe12, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Joe12

    Joe12 Newcomer

    TLDR: My story, and how do I know if I have TMS?

    Hi everyone,

    I want to start off by saying that the community you have built here is amazing. I wish more people got together to help solve each others issues as you have done here. Just incredible.

    I am new to the TMS scene - I just discovered the concept a few days ago. I immediately bought Dr. Sarno's Healing Back Pain book and have read it three times so far. I've also discovered Nicole Sachs, and have been listening to her podcast and watching her YouTube videos. I am very intrigued about the idea and want to know more. As with a lot of you, I have been experiencing chronic pain for a long time and of course no physical treatment has provided any relief at all, which led me to here.

    I have learned a lot about TMS in the last few days, and am hopeful that this is my issue and that I can finally start work on confronting my emotions and eliminating the pain. However, as with a lot of new patients, my problem right now is this: I don't know for sure if I have TMS. I know that accepting TMS is one of the major early steps to relieving pain, but I have no way of actually confirming if I have TMS (other than possibly the opinions of you guys). I am completely open to the idea and I'm fully convinced that TMS is real, but just need to push myself one step further to convince myself that I have it (IF I have it).

    Everything I have read so far basically says:
    1. See a doctor to eliminate the possibility of any serious structural issues.
    2. See a TMS doctor or therapist to assess you for TMS.
    3. Do you have multiple symptoms?
    4. Do you have a history of anxiety?
    5. Did the pain come on during a stressful time in your life?
    6. Was there an initial injury or did the pain come out of nowhere?
    7. Are the symptoms inconsistent?
    8. What other diagnoses have you been given?
    9. What type of personality do you have?

    My whole life I've had minor lower back issues. Usually when it would flare up, I would go to the chiropractor or massage therapist and it would go away in a week or two. In January 2018 I was watching TV one night at home. It was late so I turned off the TV and got up off the couch and... BAM. My lower back hurt like a b*$%. After a few minutes it calmed down a bit, and I went to bed, thinking it was just another case of bad back for a few weeks.

    Well, a few weeks went by with no improvement. So I started seeing my regular chiropractor. He sent me for x-rays and firmly told me that I had degenerative disc disease. I seen him 2-3 times per week for 6 months straight (yep, you heard that right. I was naïve and trusted him to tell me what was wrong and how to fix it.) as well as on and off with a massage therapist and an acupuncturist with no improvement whatsoever. In fact, I just got worse and worse and worse. A few weeks into chiropractic treatment, I started to feel a pain in my left buttock and outside of left knee. I brought it up with my chiropractor, multiple times, who explained to me it was because my sciatic nerve was getting pinched and causing pain in the leg. He didn't seem overly concerned about it, and he only usually spent about 5 minutes with me each day.

    One day in Summer 2018 I decided I was fed up with that chiropractor, as I wasn't getting any better. I went to see my family doctor who immediately sent me for an MRI (Oct 2018), which showed that I had a bulging disc at the L4/L5. My doctor then referred me to a physical therapist, and thus began my journey with him. Shortly after starting PT, the pain grew gradually down to my ankle and foot. I seen him about once per week for 3 months, still no physical improvement. By the end of the PT, I could no longer do any of the exercises due to the growing pain in the left leg. My doctor sent me for facet joint cortisone injections for L4/L5 and L5/S1 - still no improvement. He also sent me for epidural cortisone injections at L4/L5 (two injections, same spot, 6 weeks apart) - still no improvement... at all. I also tried going back to a different chiropractor, electric shock therapy, spinal decompression therapy, etc. Nothing.

    By this time I was completely perplexed. How could it be that chiropractic all of this work did absolutely nothing?? I was in so much pain now that I could no longer live a normal life. I couldn't even walk down the hallway, let alone up a mountain (I used to do a lot of hiking and walking when I was healthy - I was in decent physical shape, other than being slightly overweight). I couldn't sleep, stand, sit, lie down, anything. I always had pain. So I started trying out some pills. Doctor prescribed me pregabalin, naproxen, ibuprofen, gabapentin, and tramacet (obviously not at the same time. we changed prescriptions as I tried each one and they failed to make a difference). I am currently still taking the tramacet as it seems to be the only thing that has worked so far (although it could be a placebo, not sure). I refuse to start on any narcotics, as I've seen what that stuff can do to people.

    The doctor referred me to a surgeon, and I am currently on a wait list to consult with him, although it could be a while. Surgery is the last thing I want to consider, but at this point I am basically bedridden. I cannot work, cook, clean, sleep, watch TV, take a sh*t, or basically anything without having extreme amounts of pain - mostly sciatica. The only minor thing that seems to be working now is the tramacet, which is only about a 20% reduction of pain for a few hours. I have already been trying to implement some of Dr. Sarno's treatment methods, but I feel like I am being held back by something, and haven't seen any improvement yet.

    So, back to the question at hand
    : do I have TMS? I am having a lot of trouble answering these questions, and determining if I have TMS, because my answers are not concrete. For example:

    1. See a doctor to eliminate the possibility of any serious structural issues.
    I have seen multiple doctors. One of them has told me (based on x-ray results) I have degenerative disc disease, one of them has told me (based on MRI results) I have a bulging/herniated disc at L4/L5. Dr. Sarno considers these to be "normal abnormalities", however a few things I have read on this wiki are saying that a herniated disc could indeed be the cause of the pain, but if its not, then its TMS. Is this true? So I don't know.
    2. See a TMS doctor or therapist to assess you for TMS.
    I live in Alberta, Canada. The closest TMS therapist is in Vancouver, BC (16 hour drive from me, or $1000 round trip flight). Getting to a TMS specialist is not easy, to say the least. I understand that I could talk to a TMS specialist online (something like Skype), however I'm hearing that the physical assessment is also necessary for a specialist to confirm TMS.
    3. Do you have multiple symptoms?
    Yes and no. It has basically been lower back pain and sciatica for the entire time. There is no other pain that I am aware of. I have had frequent headaches in the past that could be related, but I could also just be convincing myself of this.
    4. Do you have a history of anxiety?
    Sort of. I've never had any panic attacks or nervous breakdowns or anything like that. Sometimes I get anxious about some things, but they are usually pretty major life events. Seems like a low level of anxiety to me. Not sure.
    5. Did the pain come on during a stressful time in your life?
    The pain came on during my last semester of my undergraduate degree. Which, honestly, wasn't really that stressful. I could make the argument that it was stressful because I was graduating and moving on to be an adult and get a job and all that mess, but at the time I didn't feel stressed out about it at all. I'm not sure if I am looking back and just convincing myself that it could have been stressful? Not sure.
    6. Was there an initial injury or did the pain come out of nowhere?
    Pretty much out of nowhere. I got up off the couch one day and had searing lower back pain. The sciatica followed a short while after that. I had minor recurring lower back pain in my life before this.
    7. Are the symptoms inconsistent?
    Sort of. They have been consistently and slowly getting worse over time. Pain has always been in the low back and sciatica in the left leg, the only thing that has changed is the sciatica has grown (NOT MOVED) from the buttock to the foot, meaning the parts that hurt 2 years ago still hurt, and hurt in the same way. The pain does not move locations. Sometimes, the leg goes numb or I have spasms in the calf and thigh, but it has been fairly consistent in doing so.
    8. What other diagnoses have you been given?
    None. Degenerative disc disease and herniated disc are the only things.
    9. What type of personality do you have?
    Definitely perfectionist, probably borderline OCD. If things are not perfect and if something is out of line, it bugs me so much that it is all I can focus on. I am a people pleaser and have a hard time saying no. I hate it when someone does not like me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and to advance quickly in my career and in life. I am always worried about how people see me and what they think of me. This all seems to line up well with Dr. Sarno's personality suggestions for TMS.

    So many people in the world have back problems, and I cant fathom how the medical world hasn't figured this one out yet. I am fully convinced that TMS is real and is the cause of a lot of peoples pain, and that the medical world has not accepted this yet. Honestly, knowing that I have TMS would be a huge relief for me, because then I know I can fix it.

    Thank you for giving me the chance to vent. Hope you are all healing well, and I appreciate any advice or insight you can give me.

    Joe
     
  2. had

    had Peer Supporter

    You absolutely have TMS. Is it the entire cause of all of your issues? That's the tricky part. Your list of what to do is legit. You have seen regular docs and gotten the dreaded "maybe". Everyone has abnormalities on X-Ray, CT, MRI etc. I was advised to have surgery but had already had my life ruined by other orthopedic surgery that in retrospect was 100% TMS and was too skeptical and afraid to get cut on again. Had I known what TMS was then it would have been quite clear I didn't need surgery. This is the "m'fer" about TMS is it knows where to put the symptoms and confuse the matter and since not everything is TMS it is a perfect villain. I might be too jaded and this not accurate...but to me surgeons see everything as a surgical problem. Unless there is nothing wrong at all...they will bite into anomalous stuff and maybes and "explore" as if you are a car engine and there is no harm done in having a look.You have also likely see that back and knee surgery have born out over time to be a bad move for pain. They were so prolific and studied for so long the evidence that people are still in pain despite the "fix" years on is extensive.

    Since you have a less clear cut case than many symptoms, after all it's easy to think TMS when scans are negative or show minor anomalies that are not a problem without extreme reaching, I'd suggest trying to consult with one of the TMS docs even remotely. I don't know what's available at present but I would think you could find one that would accept your scans and tests and consult with their TMS friendly orthopedists. If you DO end up having the time and funds to get to one physically I'd recommend Howard Schubiner in Detroit Michigan USA. Super guy and well trusted here. Probably not more costly to go there than BC for you. At the very least having someone TMS friendly see your records would give you some clarity. Nobody here can say "yes this particular thing for sure TMS" since not everything is. It sure sounds like it fits the pattern and is a story heard over and over...but you need a diganoses from someone other than laypeople online. Once you have that you can move on to the hard part but with the peace that you don't need surgery...which rarely helps anyone in these cases.
     

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