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Alan G. overcoming serious doubt

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by comebackseason, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. comebackseason

    comebackseason New Member

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    I found the TMS program this August 2016 whilst I was in the most suffering state, depressed and desperate for anything that'll help me. My most intense symptoms started flaring up around december 2015. looking back, i knew it was all mind initiated.
    I truly accepted the diagnosis and from reading the books and forums informations, it just screams TMS. I also understand this from reading and studying on my own about mind-body connections and how psychology (thoughts) affect our life and health.
    Now i understand that my neck or any of my symptoms were not the result of structure or poor health. I understand that it's all about my thoughts, beliefs, emotions, etc. My first realization that it was truly mental was the first time i read 'healing back pain' by Dr. Sarno, my sharp shooting pain in my arms, hands, dissipated immediately as i was reading the words in the book. I saw myself in every page and felt a sense of relief i never experienced in a long time.
    However, i still have a lot of fear, doubts, and possible objections that all the work i did on my neck to fix a 'problem' that wasn't there actually caused it to become a problem now. I will explain.

    Currently, I am experiencing pain and fatigue everyday but I am managing my symptoms much better and better as I become more conscious and in control of my emotions. My most significant pain is in my neck and upper thoracic. It feels like there is constant tension all the time and it refers all the way up into my eyes, cheeks, temples and base of the skull.
    The thing is, before i got diagnosed and was told that i had a reverse curve and herniation in the neck, my neck wasn't really the problem. Only when I accepted that diagnosis and started seeking out treatments (deep massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture) my neck just became worse and worse, and so did my overall well being and symptoms. I got more frequent headaches, my neck felt like it was popping and cracking in every single motion. I had so much facial pain that was never there before. Because of that, it limited my ability to live and do simple tasks. I was depressed and anxious all the time because of it.
    I became obsessed with my neck pain and thought about it every day, before and after sleep. My life revolved around it. I would spend time researching it for days and days. I tried EVERYTHING. I was so convinced that my neck was the problem and told everyone that. I basically became the guy who had a permanent neck injury.

    In the process of trying to fix my neck, my cervical spine actually changed shape and so did my thoracic back because of all the corrective exercises I did. I've used elastic bands to pull my neck to fix the reversed curve. I even used hanging neck traction to try to restore the curve. I remember that doing the exercise cause more pain, hurt and sharp shooting pain around my head, but i still kept doing them because i thought it was the only way. And all the doctors recommended it too. I would do these exercises pretty intensely and vigorously too, as there was a lot of anger in it for not getting better yet.

    My thoracic also became very flat, there is a loss of the natural kyphosis because i tried to force my chest up (thoracic extension) every position i moved. Little did i know that genetically, i was already born with a fairly flat thoracic so by doing those exercises, it just perpetuated the problem.
    I would focus on my neck exercises and thoracic extension exercises daily.
    I was also in more pain day by day.

    Because of these real structural changes, every time i press or do push ups, my chest hurts and it feels like there is something shooting inside. I can't workout or lift weights like i did before because my sternum hurts and my shoulder has sharp shooting pain all the time. But i still go and try do as much as i can. My muscles look atrophied, feel loose and soft when it's supposed to be the opposite when i train. I heard that when you have peripheral neuropathy, this phenomena can happen.

    How do i fully believe or accept the diagnosis of TMS when i can see and feel such changes. It just makes so much sense, because of all the things i did. Is there a way to undo what i did, in terms of structural changes? Could i have TMS but also another additional problems that's not related to TMS because of the things i have done to my body?

    Any advice is greatly appreciate and i am thankful for taking the time to read my rant.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2016
  2. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    It's hard to believe that these structural changes can cause this profound a level of pain and impairment. Have you ever seen an elderly person walking along with their back pretty much curved at a 45 degree angle? Even that does not cause these folks pain.

    What I am suggesting may sound rather rash, but given how deeply entrenched your fears and doubts are, I think it's warranted.

    Gather up all you x-ray and MRI images, both before and after , make an appointment with Howard Schubiner, fly out to Michigan and go over all of this with him for three hours. You can get a little more clarity, and, if it does turn out that this is tms, it will give you the confidence to move forward.


    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2016
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  3. comebackseason

    comebackseason New Member

    Thank you for your response Alan.

    The only thing is that my neck structure and upper thoracic actually changed shape from the corrective exercises and traction exercises. I too believe that I have TMS no doubt, but with regards to my change in my neck and thoracic spine, everything was very sudden. It wasn’t like a gradual or slow change. It was rapid and the symptoms of pain also jumped up accordingly, so it just made so much sense. I would understand that if it was a slow change like an elderly with a curved back that occurred naturally, it would cause no pain, but mine wasn’t like that.

    And i feel like that is what's different with me compared to other TMS people. The changes didn't occur naturally, i forced the changes vigorously, and it changed quite quickly too. So it's like yes have TMS, but now because of what you did, you have a new problem to deal with.
    What do you think about that, Has anyone had experience on these rapid structural changes?

    Since these changes, my facial nerves have constantly been irritated; facial twitching, mild bells palsy, eyeballs feeling like they are being pulled back and up, etc. When I lie down to sleep i get palpating and sharp shooting pain in my left temple. Even when i eat or drink water, sometimes i feel that immediate facial pulling sensation right away. It just feels overwhelming because my symptoms are just countless and directly linked to the nerves in my neck, it seems very legit and hard to believe to be not real. I also never really noticed any of these symptoms before since after the structural changes i forced upon on my neck and thoracic.
    A proof of this structure change causing problems is that i can't do dips (chest exercise) anymore without feeling like my sternum is going to pop out from the front. Same with doing push ups. I have sharp shooting pain all over my ribs too.
    Before the structure changes, i can do these exercises easily, with no problem or pain.

    I just dont know how to undo what i did..
    How do i find out for sure or who would you recommend i go see? Any insight you have is helpful, thanks!
  4. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    When you have tms, physical sensations alone can't be proof of anything. When you have the kind of brain that can generate physical symptoms, then pain is like an unreliable witness in a court case. You can't believe anything he says.

    But you've piqued my curiosity, I have three questions:

    1. How have you determined that your throacic spine and neck structure has changed shape?
    2. How has this change been measured? MRI? X-ray?
    3. Have other physicians recognized this shape change independently? And what was their reaction?

    I guess that was four questions.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  5. comebackseason

    comebackseason New Member

    1. I can see it. it sounds subjective but it is very obvious. Even my posture changed. i stopped all weightlifting cause i thought it was the problem (it obviously wasn't, it was just TMS). I was doing everything (mainly PT and deep tissue massage) to release all the muscles, and combining with over emphasizing on posture exercises. Especially to create more neck curve and always bring my chest up, (not knowing that my thoracic was already flat enough). In the relaxed position, my posture became like this.All out of whack.
    FullSizeRender 5.jpg

    2. Its been taken on X ray many times but not measured against each other at the same location because I went to see many specialists, mainly chiropractors. (Started from a Neurologist -> Physical Therapist -> acupuncture -> chiropractors)
    For e.g The images shows one from August 2016 and October 2016, only about 2 months time difference.But you can see the changes already

    3. 2 of my last chiropractors said that if i did the correction exercises on my own with proper guidance too rapidly, it will definitely cause irritation and issues, yet they were the ones who recommended doing these exercises. My initial chiropractor said that too much deep tissue massage can even cause nerve damage. (They would literally use their elbows to dig into my thoracic, and i would scream and they would tell me to endure the pain to heal)

    Talking about it just makes me feel sad because I wish i didn't go through it (making a tonne of mistakes) but i can look pass it now. I just don't know what to do moving forward.
  6. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    First of all, it's too hard to believe your own eyes. You wouldn't believe how many patients I've worked with who were sure that one hand was more swollen than the other, etc. Once you start looking for something your tms brain will likely find it.

    It's too hard to tell when looking at the images you provided. To get true evidence you'd need to go back to the same place as before, given that different images from different facilities are hard to compare.

    And even then I imagine that you can stand more erect or less erect and alter the outcome.

    Finally, you have slight kyphosis of the spine. But it is WAY less than mine. I don't believe that it's physically possible to change your skeletal structure as quickly as you say, regardless of what your chiropractor told you.

    Finally, even if you did alter the structure of your spine, and even if you did it in a relatively short amount of time, I don't believe there's any harm in that unless you develop a fracture.

    Here is my best guess, and it is going to contradict every fiber of intuition in your being:

    I think the chiropractors put it in your head that if you did the exercises to rapidly, it could cause damage (I doubt that could cause any permanent damage with the absence of a fracture), so there's the fear part (which is the fuel for tms pain).

    I'm guessing that you have a tendency to obsess about things. I'm guessing you look at your posture in the mirror all throughout the day. I'm guessing you're constantly thinking, "why did I do the exercises so rapidly!" (There's the preoccupation that is fueling the symptoms.)

    My guess is that you didn't alter your spine as much as you think, that even you did, it wasn't as rapidly as you think, and even if it was, that it wouldn't lead to permanent symptoms.

    But me asserting this isn't going to be enough. Go see a tms physician. Get these assertions validated.

    The body is resilient. I knew a man who fell off his motorcycle and literally broke every bone in his back, and once he healed, he had no pain. You are going to be okay.

    And stop going to chiropractors.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  7. comebackseason

    comebackseason New Member

    Thanks Alan.

    I will go see a TMS physician and let you know what he says.

    My question is then how do you explain the fact that it hurts when i try to do pressing movements, when before the corrective exercises, it wasn't a problem? (especially dips, pushups and chest exercises) Also, every time I do back exercises (pulling movements) that causes thoracic extensions, i wake up with tight neck immediately.

    The TMS books never mentioned anything about atlas misalignment, so I am curious to ask.
    My latest chiropractor i went to see was an upper cervical specialist. He only adjusted my atlas that was out rotated and tilted. From a single adjustment, the rest out of body became even, especially my hips and leg length.He even showed me the pre xray and post xray of the atlas to compare. When i stepped on the weight distribution scale before the adjustment, it was 7lbs difference between my left and right side, after the adjustment it came down to only 1lb difference. These structural changes were real. There were actual measurements been taken.

    However the atlas adjustment never holds more than about 3 days... so i decided to stop going there and really just focus on the TMS aspect. But knowing this, is this something that is important to know or is it negligible?
  8. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    I can't answer about the adjustments. Many physicians I work with don't think adjustments are clinically relevant.

    I'm not familiar with weight distribution scales, but it seems to me this measurement would shift depending how much you subconsciously lean in one direction or another. I could find no information on these scales as a clinical tool for treating musculoskeletal pain so I'm somewhat suspicious of their efficacy.

    Honestly, many chiropractors give scientifically shaky and unproven diagnoses. Read this to see what I mean:
    https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/chiropractic-gimmickry/ (Chiropractic gimmickry « Science-Based Medicine) )

    Assuming you're dealing with TMS, I explain the fact that it hurts when you try to do pressing movements the same way I explain pain that most TMSers have when pain is associated with a physical position or activity: a conditioned response.

    These are very real pains that become linked with physical activities through associative learning, and it's conditioned responses that make it most difficult for patients to let go of the structural explanation for their pain.

    Watch this video for a more in-depth explanation:

    Best of luck,
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
    Forest likes this.
  9. ladyofthelake

    ladyofthelake Peer Supporter

    I only got relief from pain when I completely stopped entertaining thoughts or beliefs about physical causes, worries, therapies etc. I understand the temptation, but basically...tell yourself "who cares?"
    I'm no expert on how to make the jump to total focus on the psychological, but once you make that shift you will destroy with TMS game your brain is playing. I was helped mostly by the audio recordings in Alan's recovery program. Those people are exactly like me.
    comebackseason likes this.
  10. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Yeah I think this is true.

    The most common hang-up regarding accepting the TMS diagnosis is obviously following Sarno's non-negiotable rule of accepting that the symptoms are psychological rather than coming from a structural or organic causality.

    I struggled with this for years (still do) but I eventually realised that it was better for me to approach it a different way and basically just give up giving a damn about what was causing the symptoms and just get on with life regardless. I think the key is to remove the doubt and endless searching and analysing and you can either attempt this by a) accepting the causality or b) not giving a hoot about causality and carrying on regardless. It was only when I shifted from a) to b) that I moved forward.
  11. comebackseason

    comebackseason New Member

    Thank you guys! Means a lot.

    I think i've come such a long way in my recovery even though I still get neck pain, headache and facial twitching everyday. I try to not give a damn about any symptoms I have and mindful when thoughts of doubt and fear come up.

    Im back in the gym, getting stronger and stronger each week. Even though some movements still feel sharp pain, I do whatever I can to work around it. From not being able to type, sit, sleep. I'm feeling good with this progress and im going to keep pushing through. :)
  12. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    I wouldn't consider a chiroquackter a specialist in anything but lightening your wallet--do some research on "QUACKWATCH". Also, accu has been shown to have no scientific validity--and I can testify to that with my own "science", after having several hundred sessions of it--but it can relieve tension for a brief time, and tension is what TMS is all about.

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