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New here.. RSI trouble

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by aphex1471, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. aphex1471

    aphex1471 New Member

    Hello there,

    I am a 33 year old male from Northern Ireland. For over 2 years I have been suffering from what I've been led to believe is RSI (repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel/ cubital tunnel syndrome) from working at a computer for too long, bad ergonomics etc. I have had constant burning, tingling and numbness type symptoms in both arms/hands aswell as pain in my upper back and shoulders, I also have an intermittent clicking and grinding sensation in my left shoulder /elbow which is quite loud and unsettling. Too add to this I was also diagnosed with crohns disease around 10 years ago however that's another story. Within the last 2 years I have tried physio, acupuncture, swimming, massage, self-massage, different types of vitamin/mineral supplements and even changing my diet all with little to no success; I’m really at my wits end to say the least and currently considering extended sick leave or looking for another job.

    By nature I am a very sceptical person, I would consider myself a realist and have always believed that everything must have some kind of logical explanation. I have also been completely negligent of religious beliefs and ideas mainly due to the sensitivity of the topic where I was born.

    I recently read Dr. Sarno's audio book “Healing back pain” and like many others saw myself in many of the pages at the beginning of the book, I continued to finish the book and found it fascinating to say the least. However, I’ve remained slightly sceptical and I still need a little more convincing that my symptoms are not the result of a physical "over-use" injury or abnormality. The physio therapist I'm seeing at the minute through the NHS has basically told me that my left scapula is too weak and needs to be strengthened to take the strain off my shoulders and elbows. In a way this makes sense, but I think I need to stop thinking about it physically.

    When I look back at my early life now, I see a strange family where emotions and problems were simply swept under the carpet. I wouldn’t consider my childhood a very unhappy one, however it certainly had many problems. I always remember my mother and other relatives would sometimes call me “hate the world”. As a child I was angry and easily frustrated; however, I was never able to admit truthfully the real reason why I was always so angry for fear of my mother’s reaction. My mother has been married 3 times and has suffered from severe anxiety since she was physically abused by her first husband, my father was her second marriage and she divorced him when I was 7. A lot of anger, rage and confusion began at that moment in my life and I can remember being afraid all of the time as my father disappeared and I didn't see him until 4 years later. I feel as if this repressed anger and rage has been carried with me since then. I've been stressed out over a lot of personal and family things over the past few years. In fact the more I think about it, I started to have these RSI type symptoms just after my grandfather passed away.

    I would really appreciate if any one with a similar scenario to mine could shed some light on this for me, as I'm struggling to believe there isn't something seriously wrong with my arms/shoulders.

    Many thanks
  2. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Dear aphex, I think you just shed a lot of light on it yourself...

    Strengthening a painful and possibly weak region of your body is pretty difficult. The body treats it as an injured part of your body, so it will probably start to hurt before you can strengthen it. I don't know about a 'weak scapula', but I don't think it is impossible with long term TMS. But what do you do with such information? Not a lot other than to push through strengthening exercises despite the pain. A good plan, but what if it is simply unbearable?
    So, start thinking psychological first; once you start letting your brain know that any emotions that you might bear with you are okay, it will start to lessen its grip on your body (pain, tightness, swelling, weakness....). You also need to simultaneously teach your brain that your body is fine. Yes, maybe it is a bit weak at the moment, but that's only temporarily. So for this to happen you need to try to be as active as you can be (avoid unbearable pain or aftermath but also don't be too easy on yourself). It is a process where you slowly chip away from the mind's idea that your body is weak and/or broken; it might be weeks, months or even years to reach a state in which you feel confident with your body and that will result in symptoms visiting you less frequently, less intense and disappearing faster.
  3. s.mohseni

    s.mohseni New Member

    Hello aphex!

    Your story reminds me a lot of my own. Please read my post here, and hopefully it'll be a bit encouraging atleast to know that you're not the only one with RSI troubles. I have tried everything you have, including changing up my whole diet.

    I wish I could tell you that i'm cured, but I still am in the process of healing myself. I have regular hand pain, and it interferes with my work. I've also gone through severe depression with it, after having to quit drawing/animating full-time and looking for an alternative career. I can understand how hard that is!

    The GOOD NEWS is that, despite feeling so upset and worthless and helpless last year with it all, I am doing so much better now! I have some painful days, yes, but I also have some painless experiences when working. Not only that, but my pain tends to move around, which is a giveaway that there is nothing physically wrong. I have despaired several times during my healing process (you might be able to find my other posts where i sound upset and desperate) but... compared to how i was at the lowest point last year, I feel like i've somehow managed to get part of my life back.

    I also struggle A LOT with believing entirely that its TMS. Its like my brain knows, but my heart just doesnt wanna let go of the worry that I could hurt myself. Let me tell you that I've now resumed drawing pretty much every day, and even though I get a lot of pain still, my pain never gets any worse! I have not managed to 'hurt' myself any further, but in spite of my pain, I was able to be so productive over the past year. This has helped me so much with mood and not letting myself be controlled by pain. I am currently practising 'outcome independence' and setting small goals for myself. It's really easy to get upset during the painful days, but I just accept things for what they are, and do something else with my time.

    After I quit my animation job, I ended up getting a part time gig somewhere else which didnt hurt my hand so much and allowed me to still earn money. Once I had a new job, I was focusing on so many new things that a lot of my pain dissapeared completely. The wrist is the only thing thats left to beat, and drawing is so important to me that my body is reluctant to let me forget about wrist pain, which is why im still suffering. I do, however, firmly believe there is a secret to being pain free. It might take me a little while but I'm doing my best to crack the code. The small victories are really important.

    I know i've done a lot of talking about me, but I thought it might give you some hope that you dont necessarily have to be completely cured to be able to get some of your life back and feel happy again. Its possible to co-exist with the pain and still be productive while you're slowly dealing with the emotional business. I'm expecting my recovery to be a long process and I've accepted that I must be patient, which was a lot harder than it sounds. For me, I had to accept my pain as the new 'normal' rather than impatiently waiting to be 'normal' again.

    Sorry this response is quite long-winded, but I am more than happy to chat about RSI further, if ever you need.
  4. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi aphex,

    Good responses above with great advice! I would add that it is a standard PT/ortho doctor response to attribute pain to weakness but TMS theory and my own experience tells me just how untrue this is. Sarno and other TMS docs reject the overuse paradigm to explain these issues, other than for very short term things. Keep reading your TMS books and look at the evidence- physically demanding jobs are not new but incidence of RSI is way up! It really is almost always TMS in chronic form. It may be that you have some weak muscles but this will often happen with TMS. When you have painful joints or areas of your body, those muscles naturally become inhibited and weaker, but this is an effect of the TMS and NOT a cause of "carpal tunnel" as mainstream docs might suggest. As your TMS pain subsides you will be able to gain some strength back.

    Good psychological insights on your part, start thinking psychologically and not physically as was said above. Glad you've found the forums!
    starseed likes this.
  5. aphex1471

    aphex1471 New Member

    Thank you all for your replies I really appreciate it.

    I came across the TMSwiki after reading Sarno's book "healing back pain" and "the mind body prescription". I have "the divided mind" sitting on my book shelf at home which I haven't touched yet, I plan to start reading that this weekend when I get the time. On top of own problems, my partner was recently diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis and just two weeks ago my older brother tried to commit suicide, which has caused a lot of distress in my family. He is currently being cared for in a very modern safe, mental care hospital so I'm not worrying about him as much as I was. I've always been a compulsive worrier and suffered from anxiety since I was younger, so this last month has been a real challenge for me.

    Gigalos - Thank you for your input, the more I think about it the pain is not unbearable but at times it is enough to distract me from doing normal everyday things (it is a lot worse when I'm stressed out or anxious about something). I really need to work my anxiety and stress issues, and I'm on a waiting list for therapy to deal with some of these underlying issues. I know this won't be a quick fix but I have been more positive recently.

    s.mohseni, I read your story and I can relate to you in that way. Obviously drawing and art is your way of life and the thought of not being able to draw, either as a hobby or a form of employment could cause a lot of worry and stress, depending on your personality type. I think if you can work on not worrying about it, you will find some relief eventually. When I first started to experience a substantial amount of pain I became so obsessed with it, I studied every possible part of my arm and shoulders, read trigger point therapy books, where I would stick a lacrosse ball into my back, shoulder and arm and try to find "knots" to work out. Since I've stopped doing that, my symptoms haven't gotten worse and haven't gotten better so I just thought what's the point in even doing this. Try to stay positive and you will get there!

    MindBodyPT Thank you for your reassuring words. You're quite right about the incidence of RSI. Sometimes I look other at people in my work, slouching back sitting in the same chair for 10 hours a day then getting into their cars chair, driving home only to sit in another chair, only to go to their bed, get up and come back into work and do the same thing over and over again for years on end and never take a sick day or complain about any aches or pains. I'm convinced these type of people are extremely comfortable in their own skin and have little to no issues of anxiety, stress, worry or emotionally repressed anger or rage. Maybe they do but they just know how to manage it better than people who are vulnerable to TMS.

    I've been going swimming on a weekly basis regardless of how I feel and what's been going on in my personal life, the pain is never worse or better after it, so I'm obviously not doing any harm! I guess I need to start journalling and digging deeper into some of my repressed emotions aswell as continuing to be as physically active as possible. I'm trying to get myself into the mind-frame where I don't care about the pain any more. It works to an extent, especially at work where my job involves constant typing and mouse work. I keep saying to my brain that "I need to work to work to earn money, to support my family and myself and I will do that no matter how severe the pain is".

    starseed and Gigalos like this.
  6. s.mohseni

    s.mohseni New Member

    I was exactly the same when I first realised that my pain wasnt going away with drugs and rest. Started obsessing over every little detail in my arm, feeling along my muscles and tendons, etc. I started doing stretches and weight exercises to try and strengthen everything, but it didnt make a difference to my pain. Not only that, but prior to my injury, I'd spent years drawing daily with no issues, so yes, stretching and keeping it strong is good, but also... i'd never needed it in the past? I'm still fairly young so i dont think my muscles are already deteriorating that much! I stopped doing the weights all the time because it was only making me focus on the physical side again. I definitely agree that 'not worrying' is the big thing I need to accomplish. There have been several occasions where I forgot about my wrist problem and realised that I'd been drawing painlessly that day. Of course, as soon as I remember, the pain comes back. SO annoying! But atleast its proof that not paying attention to it is the way to go in order to get better. Thanks so much!

    I think for you the swimming is a good hobby anyway. I've used my problem as an excuse to start some new hobbies and spend lazy days doing things I normally wouldnt have time for, like playing a video game or marathoning that tv show thats been on my to-watch list for ages. I've definitely learned to be a little selfish and not such a workaholic anymore. Its good to schedule in time to be lazy after some work, and then if your hands/joints hurt by that time then its not making any difference to your schedule. I really hope things go well with your recovery!
  7. aphex1471

    aphex1471 New Member

    Unfortunately, it's easy to say "stop worrying" but actually training your brain to stop worrying when you've been doing it subconsciously for so long is proving a real challenge for me. I've been a worrier and suffered from anxiety since I was very young, mainly due to my parents divorce and other things that happened when I was younger. Even though I fit the TMS personality types almost perfectly I'm still struggling to believe this is not a physical injury. I've had an Xray of my upper back and shoulders which was completely normal, I even done the Holmes and Rahe test and scored way over 300 on that as an adult and a child. Why can't I convince myself that the problem here lies deeper? I feel like there's a civil war going on inside my head and I'm not sure who's going to win.

    I have to admit I've been playing videogames for a longtime and even since I was child I used them as an escape from what was going on around me at the time. Sometimes I've thought that my computer work and playing videogames in my spare time is what has contributed to all of my symptoms (repetitive strain, poor posture etc). It's as if my way of life was destined for me to have developed "repetitive strain injury".

    I'm planning to swap the videogame hobby for something a bit more physically demanding after Christmas, and in the meantime I will continue with "divided mind"

    I wish you good health.
  8. cdub

    cdub Peer Supporter

    How's your progress coming?
  9. aphex1471

    aphex1471 New Member

    It's been quite a while since I posted my first message regarding my situation with RSI, I struggled with this for nearly three years and I am happy to say I'm about 90% healed. I had burning pain, tingling and numbness, in my right arm/hand to begin with and then when that went away it quickly shifted to my left arm where I had even worse pain, intermittent tingling/numbness and electric shock type sensations from my shoulder right down to my pinky finger. I've also had sinus problems and occasional ringing in my ears but I know this is all linked to this mind body syndrome I have been going through. To begin with this was extremely hard to ignore but the more I did ignore it I noticed it would go away, temporarily. It was this pattern that started to convince me that this wasn't something very serious. I made an effort to do more physical work around the house, painted a few bedrooms , ripped up a few old floors and re-carpeted them. I was a bit achy to start with but that burning tingly electric pain wasn't there, if anything It felt much better.

    The key to recovery from this for me was first of all seeing a cognitive behaviour therapist, I have a lifetime of anxiety, stress and other issues that I had been repressing for so long that I literally broke down into a complete mess on my first session (I spent 8 weeks at this). Childhood trauma, guilt and anger were the key emotions at play in my case and I'd bottled up a lot over the years. TMS or mind body type symptoms are not well understood here but when I started to talk to my therapist about this she was in total agreement with me that these symptoms were in some way my bodys reaction to the stress/anxiety I'd been going through and keeping to myself for so long. To hear that kind of reassurance from an actual person sitting in the same room as me was all I needed to start this road of recovery. I'm that much of a sceptic (well I was) that no matter how many success stories I'd read I was never fully convinced. The constant doubt, fear, worry and anger had me in a viscous circle for too long.

    The main thing to remember if you're struggling with this is

    1. Don't try to force yourself to do things you enjoy doing. Just do them because you actually enjoy them!
    2. When the pain or whatever creeps back, take a few minutes to analyse whats going on around you and do something productive. Don't think oh god I'm in pain here it is again, maybe it won't go away this time, maybe it'll get worse. That just feeds the fire.
    3. Don't procrastinate, seriously it's the worst and you will more than likely sit and constantly worry about whatever pain your in.
    4. Be good to yourself, be able to look in the mirror and actually feel good about yourself. We can change and be better versions of ourselves no matter what our pasts involve.

    I'm grateful for the knowledge I've found Sarno's / Steve's book and also on this website. I've a lot more to write but I'm short on time here.

    I wish you well and good health.
    cdub likes this.
  10. John’74

    John’74 Peer Supporter

    I’m so happy for you! I’m going through shoulder,arm&hand RSI. I’m a hairdresser of 26 yrs. This started 11 yrs ago in one shoulder,arm&hand. Had shoulder surgery 4 yrs ago to clean out arthritis &after returning to work,it went into both shoulders,arms&hands! Just like yours I’ve been with a TMS therapist weekly for 6 months & barely surviving,doing a small amount of hair clients. I cried when I read your story. Thanks for posting
    cdub likes this.
  11. aphex1471

    aphex1471 New Member

    Hi John, I'm sorry I made you cry but I hope you've finally found some relief from discovering TMS. Take it from me I'm probably one of the most sceptical people you could ever meet (well before learning about mind body disorders) and I can assure you that having a sceptical approach to the idea of TMS will only feed the viscous circle you've probably been in for a long time. The road to recovery for me has not been easy, in some ways it's been harder than anything I've experienced in my life. Fear has been the biggest hurdle in preventing me from complete recovery, I'm not going to lie and from what I've experienced the majority of my behaviour in general was (and still occasionally is) based around fear (mainly of injuring myself further). In a way I've been dealing with it like having a bad habit and like anything it habitual can take a long time to get rid of depending on how long you've been experiencing symptoms and not to mention the whirlwind of emotions that may have been suppressed over god knows how long. I've had a bit of relapse with pain on and off over the last few weeks but I know that it's due to the pressure I normally feel around Christmas with my family and job. It's nothing to worry about and when I don't think about it it goes away.
  12. John’74

    John’74 Peer Supporter

  13. John’74

    John’74 Peer Supporter

    I’m so sorry you’ve had a relapse! But,like you said,you now have the tools to take care yourself. The holidays can be difficult times. I wish you strength &a quick recovery! You’ve done it before &you can do it again

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