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physical vs. emotional - still needing help understanding

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by angieszen, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. angieszen

    angieszen New Member

    I have experienced buttock pain for over 4 years. The pain has changed location and intensity over the years but one thing is consistent - I am still unable to sit for a long period. When it flares I feel it all the time, when things calm down I only notice it when sitting. Have a nice big stack of MRI's and the familiar story of running doctor to doctor, cortisone injections, PRP injections, spinal epidural. All of those only made the pain worse. I experience wrist/hand pain occasionally and other pain intermittently.

    I saw Dr. Schlecter when it all started and have worked with a few pain doctors. Currently working with a TMS therapist and she is someone who experienced TMS herself which helps. I am working on cleaning out those emotional closets - mine are pretty full. I am 56 and a mom to 2 teenage boys.

    Here is my problem that I could really use some input from those of you experiencing progress...

    I am 90% there that my pain are due to TMS but as we know, I have to be 100%. Recently I have been working intently on focusing on TMS, the reading, sessions with my therapist, stopping the chiro/PT visits. I was feeling better...pain still there but only when sitting for a long time and I would tell myself - it is emotional, not physical and the pain would somewhat subside.

    So after a few weeks of not being active - I was working on a big project and had not had time for my regular workouts - I went back to the gym. After one rather wimpy 30 minute ride on the bike I found myself in pain again. I was not feeling anything particular stressful at the gym - actually looking forward to it. Not anticipating pain from it at all.

    And yet clearly as soon as I was done with the exercise my buttock pain resumed big time. One day later is very flared up. Horrible. Drove for 30 minutes and couldn't stand it.

    This just throws me totally off the TMS mind work - because clearly the pain is in part physical - structural - because it flares up after physical activity. So I am having a very hard time going back to my TMS thought process because of this experience.

    My question is ... could the TMS be creating a condition in my body that is in turn being agitated by certain activity? I want to find a way to connect this experience of cause and effect with the TMS but it doesn't make sense to me. I have an evidence list for TMS but I also have this clear evidence that physical activity is increasing the pain.

    I would really appreciate advice if you have been through this or have insight/advice. Thank you so very much.
  2. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Angie,

    I'll offer my thought. There's a book called "The Big Leap" by a man named Gay Hendricks. In essence, it's about how we can be conditioned, unconsciously, to sabotage ourselves when we finally have a little time or feel a break in the pace. Sarno wrote that TMS pain is very real...and it is. But, that doesn't mean our brain didn't create it.

    As a busy working mom with 2 teenagers, I'm guessing your time is rarely your own. Then, when you have time, you did something you felt you were looking forward to. (going to the gym). You don't have to be thinking stressful thoughts. It was probably just the act of taking time to do something that was only for you for the first time in quite a while.

    I used to get totally caught up in the "I have to believe 100%," thing. I couldn't get there. What helped me is to say "I am 100% willing to believe this is psychological."
    It took off the perfectionist quality that can doom me.

    We both have five decades of Nuer-pathways that went towards feeling symptoms. Many of us on here still have symptoms rise up that feel structural.
    It's because it's the "easiest" path for our brains.
    Acknowledge that you fear that it's a physical issue, then tell your brain that it HAS gone away or moved in the past. Riding a bike didn't injure you. Nor does sitting.
    It's just the "easiest" path for your brain to take. For me, the thing is to replace the old pathways incrementally. I tell myself, "You felt this equally as strong 2 months ago and nothing came of it. This too shall pass. I am safe. There is nothing to fear."

    Best wishes
    Ellen likes this.
  3. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Don't forget the very strong role of conditioning in TMS! The physical activity may cause a flare up, but not because of the nature of the activity itself- just because the two things (activity and pain) are associated in neural pathways. I had this frequently when I was going through TMS healing (back pain with bending over)...it gradually went away as I healed. Keep telling yourself it is conditioning and not the physical act of the exercise.
  4. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Sarno says that TMS works by creating physical changes in the body. The changes are harmless but cause pain. That's why it's called a mind-body condition. The physical changes are real, but the cause is psychological.

    The unconscious is slow to learn. Be patient and keep at it.
  5. angieszen

    angieszen New Member

    Thank you all for your thoughts and advice. I especially like the "I am 100% willing to believe..." .That really helps.

    I am so close to figuring this out. It is really helpful to hear how others who also struggled with this doubt got through it ... and what thoughts to have when the pain starts up again. The idea of conditioning I had not heard before. Thank you.

    It is true that I have had some times in the past 4 years with a lesser level of pain. I have sat and sometimes had very little pain. I know there have been times when I was going to the gym regularly and did not feel pain after working out, in fact felt better after the workout.

    It is so confusing especially as someone who is a pragmatic and trying to figure out cause and effect.

    I find it difficult to not be invested in outcome because I am so exhausted from the pain and never knowing when it is going to shut down my life. We are planning a trip to Japan in a few months...will I be able to sit on a plane for 11 hours? I have not been able to do that for years. Knowing that travel creates it's own stress, I am worried about the stress of it creating more pain. And then I am stressed out because I should not be anticipating the pain from the stress of the travel. And on and on. Loop d loop.

    Thanks everyone ... just so nice to hear from those of you who have been where I am now.
  6. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Here my thoughts: Your buttock muscles are probably very tense. This is real tension, however it is caused by emotions. If you are active, like riding a bike, these muscles are affected, of course. Sometimes it results in pain, sometimes not. As long as your muscle tension is not resolved, this will happen. the important thing though is that your muscle tension will not stop unless you have found a way to deal with the stressors and your emotions in a different way. My solution is to be active in moderation. Others here hers just pulled through and told their brains that from they are in charge and that they don't give a damn. This had also helped me sometimes. But usually a more soft way is better. Rembember: you must feel safe and your nervous system has to be calmed.
    The direct stressor seems to be this flight to Japan. Travelling is a big time stressor for me. I have a course with a lots of sitting in two weeks and I already anxious that I will be in much pain and need pain killers to get through. What could make you feel safe to travel? I feel better when I know that I can take a pain killer. That I have this as a last resort helps me a lot. Usually, I then don't need to take it.
  7. angieszen

    angieszen New Member

    Thank you... this is where my thoughts are exactly. Which is to say that the TMS/stressors are creating the pain but when I do something physical that may engage those muscles and come away with a sensation of tightness - a sensation that, before having this pain, may have been dismissed as simply post workout soreness- reignites the loop in my brain that has been stuck. So I am thinking - the physical activity is causing this obviously - and the physical activity may have flipped the switch but what I have to work on is turning the switch off. As I understand it, that means not fearing the pain. Not thinking about how much more the pain is before vs. after the activity. It is challenging for me to do this. I am not at a point where I can say I don't fear having more pain. The pain really disrupts my life.

    Yes I am stressed by the idea of a trip to Japan. The only thing more stressful than that would be to say - I am not going. I am not traveling anymore because of this pain. I have not - and will not - let this control my life in that way. I find it hard to know how to move forward because I know to get better emotionally I have to live my life. Sitting at home and being a victim is not going to get me to where I want to be. I am already sad that my kids have witnessed me go through so much pain and all the time I have lost because I was upset/sad/irritable because of pain. Before the butt pain I suffered a 4 year bout of terrible TMJ pain. I hate that they have grown up with me being disabled in this way and I am determined to not let the pain control my life choices anymore.

    This is hard to do while trying to honor my feelings and not stuff them away - which as we know is a big part of the TMJ. What do I do with the anger and sadness from the pain? This is part that makes me crazy when I work with my TMJ therapist. She has no coping skills to offer as far as dealing with the agony of nonstop pain. Saying I don't give a damn doesn't really get your through the day - at least not with the pain I have. Like you my back up is a pain pill...I hate taking Tylenol but sometimes that is what I have to do. It is my last resort.

    A few nights ago I chipped a crown and I am leaving on trip this week and dentist can't repair it until I return. He smoothed it out but told me to wear night guard to be sure I don't pop off what is left. Well one night of the night guard and I was reminded why I never wear it. TMJ pain back. I am trying VERY HARD to flip that switch off - the one that says that pain is back again - because that was worse than this buttock pain. There is this damn loop in my head that starts listing all the things that are wrong...that literally whispers to me "well now you are going to have both of those pains...forever"....I start to fell that surge of panic. I can recognize now I am back in fight or flight mode. I am giving the pain the power. So now I feel like a TMS failure on top of everything else. Sigh. I find it all very hard and depressing.

    Thank you so much for your response. As always, so very helpful to know others are experiencing similar struggles. I know there are many who have made it to the other side and I am really really fighting to join them.
  8. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Your story resonates with me. I have been through similar frustration, and though I've made a lot of progress I still have my tough moments. Overcoming TMS takes patience and a lot of self-compassion.

    Everyone's path to healing is different. When I have a bad TMS episode, I look at it as a signal from my inner self that something is out of balance and needs attention. Anxiety and depression are also distractions, just like pain. The trick is to turn away from the distractions and look for the hidden feelings, whatever they are. They could be something current or leftover from the deep past. It takes time. If you press yourself to get better now, NOW!, then you'll just get more frustrated. There's a reason those feeling are buried -- they're very scary. If you have a good TMS therapist, she will help you find a place where you feel safe to uncover them.

    I hope this helps.

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