1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

New to TMS, familiar with back pain

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by bgutting, Sep 25, 2014.

  1. bgutting

    bgutting New Member

    Hello all,

    I came to this from the TMS wiki, and it suggested maybe contributing to the forum to get started. I'm a little skeptical of adding yet another "wow, I'm in pain" story but at this point, I'm near my wit's end and I'd just like to get the story out there.

    I'm 35 years old, an advertising creative director and one of those really motivated types who likes to play peacemaker. Basically, reading through the characteristics of TMS, there was a lot of overlap. Not on the low self-esteem aspect, though. I like myself perhaps a bit too much ;-)

    What I really love doing is training. Hard. For years I did CrossFit, then I got into rowing, and for the past couple years I've been a sprint track cyclist. If you've ever seen those guys on the funky-looking velodrome going really fast, that's me. It is awesome. It's a great way to express an obsession with lifting heavy weights (Squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts) into speed and competition. I got more and more entranced with it the more I did it.

    Then, about six months ago, back in late March, I noticed that something around my SI joint hurt. It was getting hard to stand, and hard to walk. I could still ride without incident--I even got faster!--but basic things were painful. The pain running down my left leg was (and is) ongoing and at times severe. My girlfriend, a DO, looked at it and thought there was an SI joint problem. I did some exercises, but nothing changed. I went to see a chiropractor. She was nice, and helpful, and the condition improved somewhat, to the point that I could at least walk greater distances.

    But I was still hobbling a lot, and I'd get concerned comments from friends, family, and random people about my poor gait, and my leaning to one side. I finally went to see a sports medicine doctor, who estimated it was a herniated disc, and he referred me to physical therapy. The pleasant PT advised me to try Tai Chi and put these electrodes on my back; we joked a lot about type-A athletes, I learned some simple exercises and for the first time in my life used a Swiss ball. Sometimes I'd hang from a bar.

    Things were feeling better but it was still there. I was told to stop riding, but I bargained to keep doing that. Lifting however ceased entirely. After a couple month's away from the barbell, and feeling somewhat better, I went to do some squats. With 95lbs on the bar, I got lit up like a Christmas Tree. Strain, twinge, tweak, whatever. PAIN. I felt like I'd erased any progress I made. Lying around for a few days helped, and I was able to resume riding but I was terrified of lifting. Skeptical of PT and tiny little "strengthening exercises," I went to see an active release technique practitioner. He said I had a significant issue but he could help. He'd break up the scar tissue in the fascia and reduce the nerve pressure.

    It helped some. I was walking with ease by now.

    Then I went back to my friend's gym to lift again. Feeling ready. 45lb squats were hell. Doing lunges, I "tweaked" my back. Sitting funny, standing funny, generally hobbling and feeling that burning sensation all the way down my left leg. Concerned, he he me lay down to stretch me out--my piriformis he said was tighter than anything he'd encountered. Tighter than the muscles of 60+ year old men and women he worked with. He advised foam rolling, deep-tissue massage, maybe even rolfing. And definitely more stretching.

    Well, in short? I somehow came across Dr. Sarno's book Healing Back Pain. And it makes more sense than ANYTHING I've come across. I'm in St. Louis, there seem to be no practitioners in the area, so I guess I'll just read everything I can and figure this out!
    North Star likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, bgutting. Welcome to the TMSWiki and the forums. You did yourself a humongous favor by reading Dr. Sarno and coming to this web site.
    I came to it more than two years ago after having severe back pain, and it went away in about two months. It would have left me faster if I
    had believed 100 percent that the cause was TMS, but I withheld about 10 percent that it was structural, which it wasn't.

    I suggest that you work on discovering repressed emotions because that's what's causing your pain. The SEP program can help you with that.
    And Steve Ozanich's book, The Great Pain Deception, is one that an athletic person like yourself should benefit from reading. He tells how he
    fought through his pain while pushing himself to play golf despite the pain.

    I used to work for an advertising agency in Chicago as one of the staff writers, so I know what pressures that work creates.
    Your pain may come from those emotional stresses but I think they more likely come from repressed emotions in your childhood.
    That's where Dr. Sarno says most pain comes from. I journaled about anger and anxiety in my boyhood and it led me to become
    pain-free by better understanding those who caused my anger. That led me forgiving them, and forgiving led me to be pain-free.

    You are entering a very exciting, wonderful journey. It will lead you to be a healthier, happier person than you ever dreamed of being.
    North Star likes this.
  3. bgutting

    bgutting New Member

    Hi Walt! Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. I'll check out Ozanich's book straight-away, and will definitely think more about my childhood. Sometimes I wonder if it's the most easily-overlooked things that can be the most problematic. I get along fantastically with my parents, seeing them frequently, and always assumed my early years were great. And I suppose overall maybe they were, but there's bound to be something in there that I'm not thinking about. That's the spitting definition of repression.

    I'm seeing some parallels between dealing with TMS and smoking. I smoked for years, and eventually read Allen Carr's Easy Way to Quite Smoking--it didn't click for me immediately, but I went from constantly thinking about my next fix, or looking forward to my various smoking rituals, to literally never thinking about it again. I have dreams now and then about smoking, but I have no desire to touch a cigarette. At all. I have to wonder if "chronic pain" is a similar sort of addiction. I think there's probably WAY more to TMS than just that, but it's interesting nonetheless.

    I'll get to journaling today. It's been too long.
    JanAtheCPA and North Star like this.
  4. ash86

    ash86 Peer Supporter

    Bgutting, welcome to the forum! I totally agree with Walt to read Steve's book, it really has helped me the most. I am a visual person, so videos of Sarno's lectures and interviews were helpful. If you haven't seen it yet, look up Sarno on 20/20, the video is on youtube. Good luck with your healing! :)
  5. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Bgutting, I was thinking about you today. When I first had a ruptured disc about 20 years ago with sciatica and intense lower back pain, I read Dr Sarno's book "Mind over Back Pain." I was a successful film producer at the time and I dove in and attacked the work much like I would approach getting a film made. I had one goal in mind, to uncover the childhood trauma or somehow solve the psychological mystery behind my back pain. After several months of intense work, I saw no real progress, and so I opted for surgery. I have had many pain conditions and suffered through a whole lot of anxiety and panic since then( a pain equivalent). I came back to Sarnos work about a year and a half ago. I have had many breakthroughs and feel I am finally on the road to a lasting and life changing recovery. Okay, so how, you might ask, does any of this apply to you and why was I thinking of you today? There may not be a simple answer to that except I sense you will do very well in your TMS work if you will give it true commitment and not expect to be able to control the results. The first time I was working on my TMS 20 years ago, I knew nothing about the outcome independence. It is such a difficult and frustrating concept to understand and accept. Especially for those of us that are producers, driven go getters, goal orientated people. How in the heck can we work on something and not monitor the results? Ugh, it just makes me want to scream. And yet it is crucial. One thing that helps, is to monitor in terms of how much the pain is a distraction. "Wow, I can't think of anything but this pain today. I want to do a bunch of research and figure out what could be causing this pain. It really is a good distraction! TMS is a very effective distraction. I may not know exactly why it is distracting me yet, but it really is effective at distracting me. What else could I distract myself with?" And then just notice if you can find something else to focus on. You will read a lot about how you need to think psychologically and yet a lot of us don't know exactly what that means, moment to moment. I like to think in terms of how am I feeling, how am I really feeling? And then give myself permission to feel that without intellectualizing the consequences. I think there is probably a high percentage of us suffering from TMS that have lost touch with how to feel things. I am so emotional I thought I was feeling things all the time. Actually, I was often criticizing myself instead of allowing myself to get angry at someone. There are lots of variations on this and this is the kind of stuff we want to figure out and experience. This is what is means to think psychologically. What is really going on emotionally, how do you feel? And in case you're wondering, "I feel pain" is not an emotion! (Ha Ha) I think you have come to the right place and there is a reason your gut is telling you this makes more sense than anything.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
    JanAtheCPA, bgutting and Ellen like this.
  6. bgutting

    bgutting New Member

    Anne, thanks so much for the thoughtful response! I'm not a producer but I definitely understand the mentality. It's quite close to what I do. Creative, multi-tasking, lots of meetings, collaboration, decision-making. Candidly, I work with some real twits and instead of holding it in lately, I've been privately venting about it and dealing with the perpetrators in a more direct, professional fashion. Although...that's pretty restrained, and pretty repressed...

    It's interesting--and anyone with a similar experience, I'd appreciate hearing about it!--but I've really taken this "resume physical activity" thing to heart. Riding (and racing) bikes has never been a problem, that I can do without incident. And right next to riding, my favorite thing to do is lift weights. In addition to the physical thrill and benefit of it, it's time I get to spend with friends and listen to loud music and generally enjoy myself.

    But oh my. It hurts. I tried doing a squat recently and it lit me up like a Christmas tree. Gave it a couple days, and got back into doing other stuff...kettlebell swings, some deadlifting. I can DO it, but it's a grind. Just got back from the gym this morning and I'm back to limping. Over the past 3-4 days, my symptoms were drastically reduced and I was walking at my old brisk pace. I'm sure this will wear off and within a few hours I'll be feeling fine, but good lord just standing in line for coffee this morning was excruciating!

    My inclination is just to bull through it. But if anyone has experienced the same...do tell.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    BG - you bring up a lot of interesting issues - for example:
    I hadn't thought of TMS as an actual addiction, before, but in fact we talk all the time about how pain and other symptoms are conditioned by the brain - it's not that far off. As for your second statement, I'm starting to think that finding relief from TMS/PPD is not that complicated. It's HARD, absolutely - but the mind-switch that needs to take place is almost instantaneous when it finally happens, at least I found that to be the case (and I think Walt is saying essentially the same thing).

    Which isn't to say I don't have symptoms anymore - I do, quite often, but I have a different relationship with them - some are easily banished, and the others don't impinge on my life and they eventually disappear.

    Then you said this:
    Hm. You know - and this is just my opinion - I don't think that acknowledging your rage means that you have to become an a**h***. I do think that dealing with twits in a "more direct, professional fashion" is awesome, and instead of being negative about it, you might consider congratulating yourself for taking a new positive step :D

    Self-acceptance is often a big stumbling block to recovery from TMS.

    Keep posting and keep us posted, and welcome!

  8. bgutting

    bgutting New Member

    Ha! Great point.

    Patience seems to be one of those things that's just...complicated. Today's been interesting. "Tweaking" my back when I got in the car caused some immediate, severe pain, but with just a little thought, it seemed to pass. But when I went into the gym to lift, I was stiff and awkward. It wasn't a shooting pain, but wow oh wow oh wow was it there. It took a couple hours to wear off, and by the afternoon I was moving around okay but I can *still* feel stiffness and some stabs here and there.

    But I've dropped the NSAIDs and quit going for the active release technique treatment and I'm not suddenly feeling worse. Fair to say, though, this won't be passing immediately or spontaneously. I think having a strategy for dealing with that frustration will be key. And I love your point about self-acceptance and thinking of how I handle difficult situations not as a compromise, but a positive step!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  9. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sounds like progress to me. We are always careful here to point out that we aren't medical professionals and that you should always be checked out - but a tweak that disappears, and exercise pain that turns into stiffness in a matter of a few hours seems more likely to be TMS than anything pathological.

    I managed to do 10 chest presses with a 40-lb free barbell today - not bad for a 63-year-old (female) tax accountant, I think dancea

    Thank you, Dr. Sarno!

  10. bgutting

    bgutting New Member

    Not to be totally daft, but what would be something pathological? I've had x-rays that showed nothing, and the doctor guessed there was an L5/S1 disc herniation but he didn't order an MRI. He just prescribed physical therapy, and the PT identified weakness in my big toe at a certain angle.

    And I think 10reps of a bar that heavy is fantastic!!
  11. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, you know, like a broken bone or something - as we know, Dr. Sarno doesn't consider a lot of what is seen on x-rays and MRIs to be of any consequence. I'm just being careful :^)

    And thank you! Three years ago, 40 lbs was unthinkable!

Share This Page