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pain in neck, left shoulder/arm/elbow

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by charcol, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. charcol

    charcol Peer Supporter

    Hello all-
    My story starts in 12/10 with a herniated disc in my lower back. After reading Healing Back Pain this spring, the pain started to subside after nine weeks and was fully gone by eleven weeks. Success!

    About two weeks ago, I awoke with a little neck pain. My first reaction was that I slept on it wrong. Several days later, I awoke in the middle of the night with severe pain in my left shoulder, arm, and elbow. If the heart was located in the shoulder, I would've thought I was going to die- it was that painful. I got a 1 1/2 hour massage with no effect. Massage therapist diagnosed tendonitis in left elbow. I then went to my family doctor who prescribed three meds, one of which was vicodin. No effect. Diagnosis- inflammation, probable muscle spasm. I went on vacation the next day and for the next week or so, saw a local chiropractic four times. No effect from treatments. Diagnosis- osteoarthritis, degenerative disc.

    Early on, I had a feeling it was TMS, but the pain was so severe, I was hoping for a little relief via massage, meds, and the chiropractor. Three days ago, I started doing the affirmations. I even went to the gym. On the two upper-body machines I use, I reduced the weight in half with no complications. I did my normal 30 minutes on the cross trainer, but at a reduced speed, mainly because I started getting stomach cramps. Remember, I hadn't worked out for about 10 days. On the way to the gym, my elbow was the main source of the pain. After my workout, the pain had left my elbow and was now mainly in my shoulder. I went to the grocery store and by the time I got home, the pain had left my shoulder and was mainly in my neck. Typical TMS.

    The pain is very bad in the morning and gradually gets better throughout the day. Luckily, it's very minimal at bedtime and I'm able to get a good nights rest. If anyone has any advice or similar circumstance, I'm all ears.

    Go away, pain. Go away...
    Anna1 likes this.
  2. Lala

    Lala Well known member

    From what I've read when the pain starts moving around, like yours is, it means you have it on the run and you are well on your well to healing. I have foot and now neck pain. I had foot/hand pain 10 years ago, read MINDBODY PRESCRIPTION and it went away in 3 months...except I don't really think I integrated the concepts fully into my life...hence the pain has returned. Started this summer as foot/hand...recognized it as TMS within a month and have been treating it as such since. Hand pain has gone away, but recently I too went for a massage and my therapist asked, "so how are you feeling? How is your neck these days [a year before I was seeing her for some neck/shoulder issues]?" So what do you think started hurting the very next day...my neck.

    Point is A. I think the fact that your pain is moving around confirms this is TMS and its on the run B. You massage therapist, chiropractor, and family doctor have given you specific "diagnoses"...even though you may consciously believe you indeed have TMS, your unconscious is very susceptible to the "power of suggest" that these health practitioners are giving you. Give up the chiro and doc appointments. If you go for a massage, treat it as I do (a relaxation massage...not an effort to minimize pain).

    I am reading Steven Ozanich's THE GREAT PAIN DECEPTION....a great TMS book..he talks about the power of suggestion and the collective unconscious...all very powerful. It was only after reading Steve's section on the power of suggestion that I realized my neck pain didn't start until the massage therapist asked me how my neck was doing...up until then my neck had been feeling great. Damn TMS...it really likes to mess with you....not falling for it this time!
  3. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Wow your pain really does move around!

    Degenerative disc disease is likened to "gray hair of the spine". I have it. And herniated discs. I was in agonizing pain. Before I knew about TMS I felt better after a good massage--for about 20 minutes, that is. The chiro was sure he could help me but he didn't. P/T did nothing for my pain. Neither did Vicodin.

    I learned of Dr. Sarno and read his books. Went to see him (years ago). I became pain free. it did take effort and believing in what I was doing.

    I also believe affirmations have power. One thing I find is I use positive words only; not using words like pain, e.g. I have no pain.

    Best wishes to you! :)
  4. Lala

    Lala Well known member

    It's funny that you mention using the word "pain" in your affirmations...that always stood out to me and I recently stopping using that word in any of my affirmations. So instead of saying, "I am pain free and in touch with my emotions," I know say,"I am healthy and strong and in touch with my emotions." The less I think about the "pain" the better.
  5. charcol

    charcol Peer Supporter

    Hello again all-

    Lala- sorry if I wasn't clear, but I've given up all physical treatments since coming home last Sunday. My only reason for the massage, meds, and chiro was to help alleviate some of the pain, which didn't work. A friend of mine who's a physical therapist also thinks it's a good sign that the pain is moving around- less chance that there's something structurally wrong. Ironically, he has a friend who had back pain, read Sarno's first book, and OVERNIGHT- was pain-free!!! Some of us aren't so lucky. Thank you for sharing, Lala.

    I'm now on Day 8 of treating this as TMS. Not much change yet. The pain continues to move around- the neck, shoulder, arm, and elbow. However, I discovered today that if I stretch my arm out to the side, parallel to the ground, that a very sharp pain shoots down my forearm and into my hand. I already had some tingling in the ring and pinky fingers. Nice try, TMS, but I'm not falling for it.

    My workouts at the gym are picking up. I've already gotten back to my normal workout on the cross trainer, doing 4 miles in 30 minutes. As for the upper body weight training, I'm not yet back to the normal weight, but slowly building back up. I do feel some pain with both the weight training and cross training, but no more than I do otherwise. It reminds me of when I was getting over my back pain. While tossing frisbee with a friend, I realized I couldn't run without intense pain shooting down my leg and would limp until I stopped. I thought to myself, "if running is a problem, then I need to practice it." So I went on the treadmill at the gym and started with a very slow jog, maybe 4 mph. It hurt, but wasn't unbearable. Then I slowly increased the speed. I think that may have been a turning point in my recovery of the back pain. As Sarno says, the physical restrictions imposed by TMS are more important than the pain and imperative that the patient gradually overcome them.

    I went to a local bookstore and picked up Mindbody Prescription. Then, thinking about The Divided Mind, went to another bookstore, straight to the health section, and guess which book was the VERY first book I laid eyes on- you guessed it! It was meant to be.

    I also had a conversation with my brother today, expressing some anger towards him that I had been holding onto for years. I wasn't even angry anymore, but filled with love and gratitude for him. The conversation was fine until it was his turn to speak. Then I broke down and cried. It felt good. Perhaps tomorrow morning, I'll be pain-free... :)

    My goal for complete recovery is 2-4 weeks from last Sunday, the day I started Sarno's affirmations. My back pain took 9-11 weeks, so this might be pushing it, but it was successful. I've been there, done it, and conquered before. Though every night, I still hold on to the possibility of waking up pain-free. Anything is possible.

    Thank you for reading. We WILL overcome.

    Until next week,
    Anna1 likes this.
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    lala, good suggestion not to use the "pain" word. I'll try it.

    And wow, was that fellow lucky to just read Sarno and be pain free overnight. We can keep at it and hope.

  7. Lala

    Lala Well known member

    Curtis, I would caution you about setting specific time goals for healing. Healing is an organic process and is different for everyone, every time we go through a period of deep emotional exploration and growth. Remember that the more you focus on the "healing" and the "pain" or the progression of the pain, the more slowly we heal. TMS feeds off two things attention and fear...don't give it either. Trying to "control" our healing is the same personality trait that got us into this mess. Just keep running, exercising, being mindful about how you are feeling, look for emotional triggers (things that are happening now that are triggering deep hurt from your past, specifically childhood), and notice if you have any conditioned responses (the pain acting up at certain times of the day etc.). The healing will come naturally just from trying to find joy in and living your life. I know its easier said than done (I still check in with my body/healing several times a day and I'm working at trying to ignore it and focus on other things....TMS does not deserve my undivided attention...there is too much of life to be lived).

    Good for you for talking with your brother and allowing the emotions to flow...such a huge part in the healing process. I feel like I don't cry enough these days..part of all the repressed crap over the last few years. Maybe I should watch a really sappy movie and let the waterworks flow!

    good luck.
  8. charcol

    charcol Peer Supporter

    Hello again,

    Today is Day #14 of treating this as TMS.

    Lala- you may have a point. If I set a goal and don't achieve it, then I may feel like I failed which may perpetuate the process. Or I can step back, change it up, and make a new goal. I'm very much into setting goals, but not sure how much of this behavior has caused my predicament. We can wait and hope for some relief (reactive), or we can set an intention or goal and have something to aim for (proactive). As for controlling our healing, I am reminded of the Sarno affirmation- I intend to be in control, not my subconscious mind. Of course, each of us is going down this path and finding what works for us. I very much appreciate you taking the time to comment on my posting. I'm very open to comments/ suggestions. BTW, did you watch a sappy movie and let it flow?

    This week has been interesting. The pain continued to move around. It's usually minimal at bedtime, but not on Monday. I was awake for most of the night, up twice, and got about an hour of sleep. Needless to say, I took a couple of naps on Tuesday. Since Thursday evening, I've noticed that it doesn't have the bite it usually has and isn't moving around as much. It's still mainly in the inner elbow area. My neck and shoulder blade are quiet.

    During this last week or two, I've realized that I need to try to continue living my life as it was before and ignoring the pain. Easier said than done. Finding things to distract me helps. And also remembering to take things one at a time and not overwhelm myself. I think being overwhelmed contributed to this attack.

    Something else I wanted to point out was regarding the resuming of physical activity in one's life. Sarno refers to things like jogging, sitting, lifting, playing sport, etc. I wanted to add doing more subtle things, like reaching for the deodorant, using the steering wheel, etc.- with the same hand/ arm that did it before. Living as if there isn't any problem and taking it slowly if it's really painful. I consider this to be part of what he calls physicophobia.

    I also want to comment on Sarno's affirmations. Instead of saying, "I WILL not be concerned or intimidated by the pain", I also say, "I AM not concerned". Instead of "I WILL shift my attention", I also say, "I AM shifting my attention". Shifting from the future to the present.

    Of course, it goes without saying that a positive attitude is essential. You have to believe.

    Anna1 likes this.
  9. Lala

    Lala Well known member

    i know i have said it before, but if you haven't read Steven Ozanich's THE GREAT PAIN DECEPTION I highly recommend it. It will take the knowledge you have gained from Sarno and bring it to a whole other level...it has for me and I am healing and healing on a much deeper level than I did 10 years ago (my first serious bout of TMS)....he talks about all the things you are referring to: setting goals, not monitoring the healing, how to be physical and lots of great suggestions for successful healing, but mostly his book delves into the mysteries of the unconscious mind in a much deeper way than Sarno's books. Best of luck and keep posting.
  10. charcol

    charcol Peer Supporter

    Today is Day #21. Not much new to report. The pain moves around, then doesn't. The workouts at the gym continue back to normal.

    Lala- you did suggest this book, I wrote it down, and then forgot about it. I ordered it a few days ago and will receive it sometime next week. Thanks for the reminder. Funny- my initial thought was "who could write a better book on TMS than Sarno?" Of course, it doesn't have to be better, but rather a different perspective. I listened to a 30 minute interview of him somewhere else on this website and liked it. I also read an article titled, "Breaking the pain cycle" by Alan Gordon which I liked as well. It reinforced the idea of not paying attention to the pain. I don't remember how I found it, but here is the link for anyone interested.


    Ok, enough talk about pain. Time to get on with life!
  11. Lala

    Lala Well known member

    hi, sorry it took me so long to respond. i was offline b/c of SANDY (storm)....I have read things by Alan Gordon via this forum that I love and have printed them out (and his ideas really help). But the book I am reading now that I find has been instrumental in my healing is THE GREAT PAIN DECEPTION by Steven Ozanich.

    And yes, different perspectives are very important. I like STeven's book b/c he suffered from TMS pain for 30 years, healed himself and then went on to research and right this book...I feel like I can relate to him as a fellow TMSer.

    pain moving around is a GREAT sign...mine moved around like crazy for like 2 weeks before slowly dying down.
  12. charcol

    charcol Peer Supporter

    Today is Day #28. My workouts at the gym are almost back to normal, though I haven't attended any yoga classes because the strength in my arm isn't back to normal. I don't think I could do downward-dog for too long. I've also lost ~5 lbs. in the last month- something I've been trying to do for the last year. Not sure what brought this on. The pain continues to move around, specifically to my shoulder blade and neck, but only lasts for no longer than a minute before disappearing, defeated. It's mainly in my inner elbow, lower bicep, and the forearm.

    My interesting story for the week- I woke up a few days ago with a little pain in my right buttock. For a few seconds, I thought, "that's weird, maybe I'm sore from yesterday's workout". Then it dawned on me- the pain was in the exact same place it was nearly two years ago, after which I was diagnosed with a herniated disc! Despite having just woken up, I laughed out loud, shook my head, and went about my day. I noticed that the pain in my left arm had decreased slightly. The pain in my buttock only lasted a few days and the pain in my arm continues, ever so slightly, to get better. I'm winning!!!

    My goal of complete recovery in 2-4 weeks has come and gone, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if history repeats itself, I could be over this in a couple of weeks. I continue with pushing my workouts at the gym and spending 15 minutes a day on Sarno's affirmations. But most importantly, I've been getting on with my life and ignoring the pain. If it's there to distract you, then the best thing to do is ignore it and look inward.
    I continue to read THE MINDBODY PRESCRIPTION by John Sarno, learning a little more every day.

    I'm winning!!!
    And if I can do it, any of you can, too!
    Anna1 and veronica73 like this.
  13. stranger

    stranger New Member

    Wauw!! I'am so inspired now, to conquer my mind, and getting over my own freakin herniated disc (the diagnosis, and not the disc it self)!!

    So nice to hear!!!
    Lala likes this.
  14. charcol

    charcol Peer Supporter

    I'm now at Week 6. The pain is still present, but minimal. I took a week off from my affirmations due to the holiday, but the pain continues to weaken. My workout is now back to normal, sans yoga. Since I last wrote, the pain tried to move to the RIGHT side of my neck. As usual, I smiled, ignored it, and it disappeared within a few days.

    Keep working AND laughing, everyone!
    Anna1 and Lala like this.
  15. Anna1

    Anna1 Peer Supporter

    Very inspiring stuff!!! Thanks!!! As for goal setting: Sarno says it could take longer especially if you count the days and weeks. So I did count ;-) but I didnt set a goal for myself.

    About yoga: I didnt do any yoga for years and picked it up recently. It's killing me (during class) more than I ever experienced before, because my muscles have obviously become so week. And it really hurts in my knee sometimes. But it doesnt become any worse because of the yoga class. The knee actually gets better, just like with running...
  16. Back2-It

    Back2-It Peer Supporter

    Charcol, it seems like you are a guy who knows a lot about muscles and workouts,etc..
    I was not. I had your same thing, only on the right side. I understood that my problems
    were emotion related, but did not know why a muscle would be tight in one place and hurt
    in another. I finally realized that some funny little postural muscles, always the easy targets of
    anxiety, were the culprits. the serratus anterior and the serratus superior. They cascaded into
    a horrible series of distorted muscles, all due to anxiety. One time, early on, before TMS, a
    massage therapist told me my torso was just torqued to a degree she had never even thought

    The regular docs said I would never be the same again (long story, not worth retelling. I
    was a regular on the old forum),and the TMS docs said, "No bother. You'll be fine." But did not
    explain to me the whole concept of referred pain. Nobody did.

    My personality had to know the "why" of what I was feeling. Had I had a basic anatomy lesson regarding
    palsied and muscles in spasm and what they do, I could have saved myself years of mental and physical pain
    so bad I wanted to just end it. Though the focus is supposed to be on the "mind" some people, especially those
    who do not have the "typical" lower back pain, are somewhat orphaned.

    My crusade, though a minor one, because I will not be frequenting the forums, is that MindBody docs, practitioners, etc., have to recognize
    the type of person who will need to know why this muscle causes pain here or there or, even, everywhere. One poor man I remember from a TMS class I took, had ongoing and constant headaches. I'll bet this man never knew that a band of muscle wraps around his skull and can
    be effected by anxiety like any other, often stemming from a lower postural muscle.

    You did exactly the right things and remained calm and the pain is going to vanish. Had I done or known the same those little buggers would have relaxed in no time.

  17. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I also struggled with this a bit as well. I have always been somewhat of a researcher. I always need to read the evidence and understand why something is the way that it is. However, I do think this can hamper one's recovery some. This is similar to the is it or isn't it TMS question that plagues many of people. All it is really doing is serving as a new distraction, so instead of thinking psychological, we are still thinking physical.

    I do agree with you though about the value of having a practitioner explain the process to the people who need to hear it. I'm not too sure how much the science can explain the process at this point, but hopefully the research will eventually explain this better.
  18. Lala

    Lala Well known member

    but there is science to prove it....Sarno talks about various studies that prove oxygen deprivation in areas of chronic pain and people with fibromyalgia..no?
  19. charcol

    charcol Peer Supporter

    Update- the pain disappeared about 3-4 weeks ago, which means it took 7-8 weeks for me to recover. My herniated disc took 9-11 weeks, an improvement of ~2 weeks. Yea!

    However, I have another interesting story. On NYE, I awoke with a very dry throat. Over a few days, it turned into a sore throat, followed by congestion, and then the need to cough. When I cough, I feel immense pain.....on the left side of my neck, left shoulder, and left forearm!!! The TMS is trying to come back via the cold! This is exactly what happened when I was getting over both the herniated disc and left arm pain. The jolt from coughing and sneezing hurt so bad that initially I tried to brace myself so it wouldn't hurt as much. At some point, I decided to just let it go and deal with the pain. I liken this to the physicophobia that Sarno talks about. The pain only appears when I cough and is very intense, but only lasts a few seconds.

    I hope my story has helped some of you and will continue to help others. This second outbreak of TMS has been a huge learning experience. I will never look at pain the same way again and feel very prepared should it decide to ever rear its ugly head again.

    If I can overcome this (twice), anybody can. Keep the faith and heal yourself.

    ps- Since most of you are open minded enough to believe in the mind/body connection, I would recommend researching urine therapy for combating the common cold. Yes, you are consuming some of the urine produced when you first get up in the morning. Not a pleasant experience, but better than being sick. I've done it several times and I believe there's something to it. And it's free! :)
    Jilly, Becca and Forest like this.
  20. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Belated congrats on recovering! We all have a natural desire to have the symptoms go away in a matter of days, but it just doesn't work like that. Your story really shows that even though symptoms may come back, it is still just TMS and will go away if you begin to think psychologically. It is really interesting that you developed a cold shortly after. Our minds will always try to come up with something to trip us up, but it is great that you were able to identify what was going on.

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