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Physical symptoms and TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Seanh153, Feb 3, 2024.

  1. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    Hi all,

    I've made a number of posts here in the past few years regarding hand pain - unfortunately it is nearly 3 years now that I've had these issues. For the past year or so I've tried to ignore the pain by carrying out my normal activities (work, gaming, driving, etc.) but it has now become so bad it is impossible to ignore. The reason I'm back here is that I'm experiencing visible physical symptoms and I'm not sure how this correlates with TMS.

    My issues started with pain all over my joints in both hands and elbows, as well as nerve pain. Most of this has actually gone away, but there is a pain in my right thumb/wrist which has never gone away. Although initially it was just painful with no other symptoms, in the past year or so my thumb has started to have mobility issues. It feels difficult to move side to side and it 'jumps' when I extend the thumb and make various movements. It also shakes frequently. I've been seeing a hand surgeon recently who confirmed that my EPL tendon is catching while moving - this was confirmed by a dynamic ultrasound scan which showed subluxation. The surgeon seemed to think that the tendon might be catching on a bit of bone, but this isn't the case. He said my symptoms are extremely unusual, and suggested exploratory surgery, but didn't seem confident he would be able to find or fix anything. Out of desperation I agreed, and I'm waiting to hear from the hospital now, but I have doubts about going ahead with it - I don't think they will find anything either. Despite my feelings of joint instability, mobility issues etc., the hand surgeon said I have full range of movement in my thumb and wrist, and no carpal instability. I also have normal strength.

    I've been referred to numerous physiotherapists, doctors, pain clinicians - nobody can find anything wrong. The EPL catching is the first specific symptom I've ever had diagnosed, aside from hypermobility (which I think is a BS reason for pain - I have numerous hypermobile joints and no issues with most of them). The other diagnosis was RSI, which I fully accept as TMS. X rays have all been clear, and ultrasounds have not detected any ligament/tendon issues or inflammation. My confusion comes from seeing past threads where people have been advised that if a problem can't be identified easily, and have an ongoing pain issue, it is most likely TMS. I accept that point of view, but I'm not sure how to treat this now that I've been told my tendon is catching. I find it hard to imagine that TMS could be causing that, but maybe I'm wrong?

    Other weird things - most of the time, my hands are extremely cold (bad circulation I guess). When my hands are cold, my symptoms aren't as bad. When my hands are warm (like now, typing this) my thumb shakes like crazy. Although I'm not experiencing pain right now, the shaking really stresses me out - it feels like my thumb is unstable. Physiotherapist exercises make the pain/shaking worse the day after I've done them, but don't cause any immediate pain - I've stopped doing them now as they're clearly not helpful. Rest makes no difference whatsoever. I'm not always in pain, but my thumb always feels uncomfortable.

    While I've had highs and lows with this, I'm definitely at my lowest point now. I've stopped gaming with my friends, I've stopped talking to people as much (to avoid using my phone), I don't want to drive anywhere. I don't even want to get dressed most days as going in the shower is painful. I go to work stressed as I'm worried about how my hand is affecting my performance. It's causing issues in my relationship as I'm afraid to do housework and I snap at my partner over stupid things because I constantly feel agitated. I'm always thinking back to the days where I wasn't in pain or having these problems.

    Does anyone have any knowledge or experience of the tendon catching/subluxation issue, and how it relates to TMS? Sorry for the long post, I actually found it quite cathartic to type all of this out - it's difficult to explain to people in person what this feels like.
  2. Bonnard

    Bonnard Well known member

    Hi there @Seanh153 ,

    I've got a suggestion:
    From that first post, we have the full write-up on what's going on physically (including doctors/tests/possible diagnoses, etc.) and how that is seriously affecting your life.

    Maybe write this out for yourself first and see what comes out of it:
    Are you able to follow up with a second write-up--same length--same level of detail--that covers the emotional/psychological?
    If you had to identify what unconscious rage could be simmering, what would that be for you? Try to consider traumas/perfectionisms and what could be behind that/patterns/stresses that are too hard to deal with/current triggers to past unsafe times etc.


    You mentioned that you've made a number of posts in the past few years.

    There's such a great suggestion in this thread.
    @mbo suggested this: please connect your emotional dots (unfelt, unbearable, menacing feelings).
    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/is-cubital-tunnel-syndrome-tms.25852/ (Is cubital tunnel syndrome TMS?)

    I'm suggesting this because I can really relate--and I've learned how when I focus just on the physical (which I can do), I'm in a way feeding the TMS. It's the pain distraction working perfectly. No time to focus on the uncomfortable feelings b/c the pain/symptoms/dr. visits/tests/possible surgery is front, center, and everywhere.
    I wish you well!!
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2024
  3. Bonnard

    Bonnard Well known member

    It sounds like your life has been completely upended by all of this. It's hard to even read the lows that you describe.

    TMS can show up in so many different ways--Dr. Sarno talked about this.
    And, doctors can continue to not find anything. BUT, there's always that one symptom/that one thing where our brains tell us it can't be TMS. Here it's the tendon catching. For others, it's something else. For me, it was severe inflammation that made it difficult to even walk.

    Check out these specific parts to your post:
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Brilliant recommendation. Enough with the physical - it's well past time to address the psychological and emotional.

    @Seanh153, did you ever do the Structured Educational Program or something similar? If not, it's time, as we say here, to "do the work".
  5. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter


    Thanks for your kind words. Strangely enough, after posting on here I decided to Google (always a great idea, I know) what could be causing tendon catching. Obviously there was the usual suspects like injuries, which I never had. But I also saw some relation with tight muscles. I know from physiotherapists that my forearm is super tight, and a lot of the uncomfortable feelings I experience feel like my joints are being 'pulled'. After that, I started to wonder if the reason that nobody can find anything wrong with tests/scans is just because my muscles/tendons are really tight.

    After this I decided to vacuum some of my house - something I've been avoiding because I'm afraid of hurting myself. Although it was uncomfortable, and my thumb was tremoring/shaking quite badly afterwards, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I also thought I might suffer the next day, but I've been okay today. I decided to go to work thinking that my issues are just caused by tightness, and nothing structurally wrong, and found it a lot better to deal with. Although I'm still uncomfortable, and constantly checking my thumb every few minutes (which drives my partner insane), it definitely helped. I compare this to a week or two ago where I was sitting on my couch with a brace on, in horrible pain, afraid to move at all - I certainly don't feel any worse.

    By the way, I don't have the cubital tunnel symptoms any more - I do get it sometimes if I sit awkwardly, but it went away once I stopped thinking about it. I used to wear elbow braces and do exercises which didn't help at all. I know the answer to this is going to be 'stop thinking about your thumb' but unfortunately I find this way harder to ignore. I wish I could stop checking myself constantly for symptoms. I know that this is a physical post, not an emotional one, but I just wanted to say how changing my thinking has helped me to deal with my issues.
  6. Fal

    Fal Peer Supporter

    Sounds like you more or less have the same problems as me, but I’m a bit further on in terms of how it’s affected me. I can’t bend my fingers or do a fist because of how stiff they are, also get cold hands one min and then they can randomly warm up the next.

    My forearms are also super tight and affecting my wrist flexbilitiy, no amount of stretching does anything.

    It stated there and then It then spread more or less around my body, but I’ve managed to recover about 90 percent on the rest of my body it’s just my hands/wrists that still have extreme muscle tension but I’m working on it.

    Doctors don’t understand why it’s happening, X-rays and blood tests don’t really explain anything, I did have inflammation but long term stress causes that. Hand therapist just looks as puzzled as anyone else as to why it’s happening.

    I am now 100 percent certain it’s to do with TMS, things have always improved whenever I went on antidepressants, like this time last year I could barely walk but now I can fine.

    My advice is to do what I do, whenever your hands go cold tell your brain to fuck off or if you get that random pain do the same. If that thought about it being something else again do the same thing and keep telling yourself everyday.

    Don’t expect an overnight fix, if like me you’ve dealt with anxiety, stress and an overactive nervous system for years it’s gonna take a while to rewire it all!
  7. Seanh153

    Seanh153 Peer Supporter

    Interesting that the antidepressants helped you - for me, I don't feel much different than before I started taking them. They reduced my panic somewhat, but also killed any motivation I had to go outside and do things - I used to walk an hour or so most days, but have pretty much completely stopped in the past year. I put a lot of weight on because of this, which I've managed to reduce recently through dieting. I think one of my goals going forward is to try and go for a walk every day, no matter how bad I feel.

    Since making this thread, I've had a weird turn - I decided to take it easy for a while and use my left hand to mouse with, because I started to struggle with my symptoms again. Guess what... without actually even doing it, from just thinking about it, I now have similar pain and clunking in my left thumb/wrist. I definitely didn't injure it - there's no redness or swelling, but it's hurting now as I type. Whenever I think about it logically, it seems like obvious TMS. But then I'll think about the clunking with hand movement, in the same areas I get pain, and I'll be back to square one thinking it's physical. I'm going to revisit some TMS material and see if I can try to change my way of responding to the pain/symptoms.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.

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