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Non-painful symptoms?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Seanh153, Nov 2, 2021.

  1. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter


    I've made a few posts on here regarding my bilateral RSI in my hands and arms. I do think this is most likely TMS as it's been ongoing for over 6 months and I don't have any limited function, just pain. I spent this weekend gaming, something I haven't done since this all started, and my pain didn't get noticeably worse - I found this very encouraging.

    However, for the past few days I've had a strange stiff/pulling feeling in my right index finger between the knuckle and the first finger joint. This isn't painful, which actually makes me feel more unsettled than if it did hurt. It comes on occasionally when I'm typing or using the mouse, but also sometimes when I just move my arms around. It feels like it's mainly in the right side of my finger. I seem to be able to trigger this by raising my arms to the side, palms facing forward, then bending my hands backwards. It feels like it's being tugged.

    Something else I've noticed is that using this index finger seems to cause pain in my thumb on the left side of the joint just before the nail. I can't think of any logical reason why this would be the case. I've found that I have trigger points throughout my hands, arms and shoulders, which I think are most likely the reason for most of my pain (as it gets worse when I rest my hands on things where the trigger points are). I know I shouldn't be thinking physically, but thinking that my pain is most likely trigger point related rather than something structural has helped with my anxiety. I've tried to massage these using the trigger point workbook but to no avail - it actually tends to make them hurt more. I've found just ignoring them to be more helpful.

    My question is, could this really be TMS? The lack of pain makes me uncertain, especially since it's just in one location. Obviously if this is my mind's new way of trying to distract me, it's working well. Also, I don't have any inflammation, swelling or weakness and I still have full range of motion in my hands and arms.
  2. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, it is. Your whole post is 'symptom, symptom, symptom,peculiar feeling, symptom'. That means your attention is strongly focused on the body.... Who needs pain?

    Sarno discussed this in detail in virtually every book he wrote. The point of TMS is to keep you focused on the physical, by any means necessary. If I have a pain, say in my ankle, but only when I kick a football....and then I go out and keep kicking the ball to 'check and recheck' if the symptom is there, the distraction is complete...even if the pain, discomfort, whatever is gone. Sarno called it "Physicophobia".

    This might be a good time to ask yourself "Why would I need a distraction right now?" "From what emotion, thought, feeling, is this keeping me from feeling or thinking about?"
    plum, TG957, backhand and 1 other person like this.
  3. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    Yeah, I do recognise that. Unfortunately it's really hard not to focus on the symptoms when I use my hands for everything :/ You are right though, I do keep checking for the pain whenever I move my hands. I guess I'll try ignoring it for a while and continue focusing on my mental health.
  4. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    Update... Still have this today and it's getting worse. Feels like a stiffness around the first joint in my index finger although I can still move it just fine. Pushing through it at work although it's constantly there with my hand on my mouse. My conundrum is whether or not to push through and ignore it or rest it and use my other hand :/ hard to tell whether it's a new distraction or a genuine overuse thing...
  5. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, the rule of thumb is that the more bizarre your symptoms are, the more likely they are TMS!
    plum likes this.
  6. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    Strangely, the stiffness went away yesterday afternoon, but my general joint pain in my hands came back after. It's also better today but my pain is much worse. I guess because I've been really anxious/stressed about it...
  7. tmstraveler

    tmstraveler Peer Supporter

    Sean, this is the height of hypocrisy for me to offer advice since I’m still working on my stuff, but this condition plagues people who are over-thinkers and hypervigilant. I know it’s a shitty thing to ask someone who is dealing with so much pain to not make it their mission to sort it out, but the truth is that feeling that you have to do something about it keeps it locked in.

    It’s gonna do a lot of weird stuff. Our bodies do weird stuff all the time. Mostly we just let it and move on, but sometimes, it gets locked in because of who we are and what we’re going through. And while I may not be an expert, I’ve been paying enough attention to know that one of the keys here is to allow it to happen. If you have RSI in both hands and arms, what are the odds that’s anything *but* TMS? And once we’ve accepted that, that these sensations are merely your brain making choices to keep you safe, then you don’t to go I have a little TMS here and a little TMS there. Everything in your hands right now is related to the brain trying to keep you safe.

    So stiffness, tingling, itching, pressure, whatever. These are all sensations and TMS can and will do all of it. To distract us? Sure. But I think it’s less about it “wanting” to distract us and more about us being willing participants in the distraction.

    So do your best to allow these sensations. I know it’s hard. But give yourself a break when you fail, and do keep going. The fact that you’re playing games and what-not is great. You’re doing great.
  8. Madder

    Madder New Member

    I've not solved my own issues fully yet either, but after reading two books and watching the documentaries on TMS, I believe that what you're describing is very clearly TMS. You have to stop doubting yourself. It looks very obvious. You need to accept that what you have is TMS, and believe it fully. Understand that it will not harm you and talk to your brain, nicely sometimes and ask it politely to stop sending these distractions to you, and sometimes firmly tell your brain to 'stop with the false f*cking signals' Stuff like that.
    What helps me for my own pain is taking into account that TMS allows the brain to deprive the body of small amounts of blood and oxygen, and this causes the pain. I take a few minutes, and lie down, and I use my minds eye to imagine blood flow and oxygen rushing to the area where the pain is, and at the same time, I keep telling myself in my head that I am fine, that I am in good health and that I understand that my brain is trying to protect me from some feelings but that this is no longer necessary as I fully understand why this is happening and these feelings can be allowed to surface. Things like that. When I do this, often just for 5 or 10 minutes, I get pleasant tingling feelings in the area, and the pain reduces greatly. This gives me full confidence in the TMS diagnosis. Trust the research. Trust yourself. Your symptoms are absolutely TMS. You can overcome this. Give it some time and be consistent and don't give up. You can beat this. YOU are the boss.
    TG957, plum and Ellen like this.
  9. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    Hi all, thanks for the encouraging posts. I've been engaging with the TMS approach for over a month now and unfortunately my symptoms are getting worse rather than better. I've stopped the phsyio stretches/exercises and have resumed some level of normal activity - doing household chores and cleaning my car, etc. Things I've avoided doing for 6 months because I was afraid of hurting my hands. I've been using the computer on weekends to play games, and although this hasn't been too painful, my hands hurt like hell afterwards - specifically in the joints. This is the same when doing chores or lifting weights - little to no pain while doing it, but a ton of pain at rest. Unfortunately the concept of shouting/challenging the pain doesn't work so well for me, because it is a quick, sharp pain that only lasts for a couple of seconds. It rarely lingers for more than a couple of seconds. I have the pain in the same places on both hands, specifically around the index finger knuckle and thumb joints. All of my finger and wrist joints on both hands hurt seemingly at random, but constantly.

    Initially I hoped this may be an extinction burst but it's hard to think so when my initial symptoms are still there. I do think there may be some trigger point involvement as most of my hands and arms are very painful to press into. I've finally been referred to a rheumatologist so I'll see how that goes.
  10. Madder

    Madder New Member

    After a month you feel that your symptoms are getting worse. That actually may be a good sign that the approach is working. Dr Schubiner were certainly tell you that much. For some people, their symptoms do get worse to begin with. They may also change or move somewhere else in the body. I would urge you to stick with it. Believe that you have TMS.
    Dr Schubiner would also suggest that when the pain arrives, recognise it, don't even challenge it. Just recognise it, smile, don't try to change anything, but understand that it cannot harm you, and carry on with your day, and the more you do this, the more you teach your brain to unlearn the pain. Good luck! :)
  11. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    I've actually been listening to Schubiner's stuff a lot lately, and it makes total sense to me, but I'm not sure that learned pain applies to me when I'm constantly in pain, even while doing nothing. If it was just when I was using a computer or using my hands I could understand. It's actually a bit disheartening because all of the RSI success stories I've seen seem to be people who only have problems when using a mouse or keyboard. In those instances, the learned pain pathways make sense to me.
  12. Madder

    Madder New Member

    But I'm not even suggesting this is learned from using a keyboard. TMS can be very tricky and creative. This could be absolutely nothing to do with the keyboard and mouse. In fact it has nothing to do with that in my opinion.
  13. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sean, it appears that your brain is in the loop of self-deception. When you tried to go back to all the activities, it decided to protect you by escalating the pain.

    Are you doing anything to desensitize your nervous system? Meditation, mindfulness, relaxation? Have you thought about your need to play games as an escapism from your underlying emotional problems? That's what thinking psychologically truly means.

    And, to answer one of your questions, my pain in hands and arms was constant, but I still fully recovered.
  14. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    I have to admit I've been lacking on mindfulness lately. I was actually just looking up some journaling techniques so I can give it a go again tonight.

    That's reassuring - I keep trying to tell myself how unlikely it is that I have tendon issues all over my arms and fingers on both sides of my body. I think this would have been easier to accept if I'd had an MRI scan that showed nothing wrong, but that's really difficult to get on the NHS :/
  15. Madder

    Madder New Member

    Sometimes, for some people it takes longer to notice improvement. I've been doing this stuff for only about 6 weeks. I have gotten some relief, but I'm not better yet either. In fact I noticed a lot of new symptoms moving around my body. Just to be aware and recognise what is happening and accepting is the first major step to overcoming it.
  16. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    Hi all,

    Just wanted to drop a quick update here. I've flitted between resuming normal activity and going back to stretches/exercises, but for the past few months, have fully accepted the TMS approach and stopped doing the exercises. Unfortunately my pain hasn't gone away, but it is... different. Sometimes it's really bad without any real reason, and other days I hardly have any pain at all. The big difference now is that I've resumed using a computer full time (for work and gaming) and have went back to using my old mouse and keyboard (unergonomic stuff). This hurt really badly for the first few months (I think because I was tensing up like crazy while using my old mouse) but has gradually reduced over time. It does still hurt when I do these things, and anything with my hands really, but I keep encouraging myself by telling myself that my pain hasn't really gotten any worse, and if it was really RSI, it would be really bad if I was using the computer so much and using my old mouse (which was incredibly painful at first). My main goal is to reduce my fear of using the computer, and I am definitely winning that battle.

    I fully accept now that this is TMS, but unfortunately that hasn't been enough to make it go away. My evidence is that I've seen a hand surgeon and a physio practitioner, and neither could find anything wrong with my hands. The hand surgeon said it could either be rheumatoid arthritis (as I have bilateral joint pain) or a soft tissue injury, whilst the practitioner said it is an overuse injury. I'm still waiting to see a rheumatologist to rule out arthritis, but I don't think I have this because I have no swelling or any visible symptoms. It's been nearly a year now and (I assume) any soft tissue injury would have healed, so this must be TMS. I've had an x-ray of my hand which showed no damage to my thumb joint either, and this is where I get 90% of my pain.

    I do still get weird tingling sensations in my fingers and thumbs but this doesn't last very long - maybe a few minutes, and it's quite rare. I also get random elbow pain which feels like cubital tunnel, but this isn't constant either, so I'm guessing there isn't actually anything wrong. I think Sarno wrote that tight muscles can cause these symptoms? I know from when I visited a physiotherapist last year that I have incredibly tight shoulders. I guess if my nerves were actually compressed, my fingers would go numb for an extended period of time. One change though is that I've started getting headaches very regularly - almost daily lately. My hand pain is still there so I'm not sure if this is TMS (as it doesn't seem to be a replacement symptom).

    So in summary, I feel encouraged that my pain hasn't gotten terribly worse, and at times even feels a bit better than it did, despite using the computer instead of resting. However, I haven't been able to get rid of it unfortunately.
  17. Madder

    Madder New Member

    Sean, have you tried Somatic tracking. Dr Schubiner does a mediation on it and so does Alan Gordon. I find somatic tracking is extremely helpful.
  18. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    No I haven't, but I'll have a look into that, thanks. I've found some of Alan's advice to be really helpful.
  19. Madder

    Madder New Member

    Somatic Tracking is incredibly powerful. I think it would really be good for you.
  20. fridaynotes

    fridaynotes Well known member

    just realizing a physical symptom is TMS does not mean it magically goes away. i mean, it does for some people, but not most. it’s a lengthy and involves process when truly attempting to reprogram your brain!

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