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Post-Cycling Chronic Pain: Is It TMS?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by AWolf, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. AWolf

    AWolf New Member

    I've been struggling with a chronic back pain focused to the sides of the lumbar area and, at times, the very center of the lumbar and low back, which came about on a training ride in late December. That night, I felt some very uncomfortable pain that I assumed was just soreness from having been off the bike and more or less activity-free for a couple of months. The pain would mostly subside after a day or two, and I'd go put in another 20-30 miles, but each time would experience some extreme pain (so bad on a couple of rides that I nearly felt the need to throw up). It felt like I was horribly over stretching my low back, electing a very painful burning sensation. After riding, healing, and riding again for a few weeks, it finally refused to go away, and got to the point of around-the-clock, fairly intense pain. It eventually radiated into my shoulder blades and lats, also as a burning sensation that I would describe as having had your arms/shoulders overstretched to the extreme.

    I am fairly sedimentary in my daily work, and don't have any form of good-posture seating, but it hadn't proven to be an issue with my cycling previously.

    Here's where it gets interesting. Although not medically diagnosed in any way, I deal with excessive anxiety, have a very negative attitude I find myself unable to deal with, get angry over the smallest of things, and struggle every minute with job (self-employed) and financial issues that are made worse than they probably really are by my anxiety and fear. but, I don't repress it....I've always been open about my fears and negativity to my wife, family, and friends (I don't know if repressing versus not repressing makes a difference). I came down with Prostatitis three years ago, which was only debilitating for a short time but is ever-present. I've determined through experience that it's either entirely mind-driven, or the mind drove my muscles out of whack and made it a physical problem, so I've more or less come to the understanding that the mind can cause a lot of things, like back pain. So when a chiropractor (who treated me for what she said was a rotated pelvis that had my leg lengths a little off-kilter but failed to cure any of my pain) turned me on to Dr. Sarno's books, it wasn't a huge revelation to me it could be my psychological issues.

    I haven't taken Sarno's advice and gotten back on the bike yet, as the arching motion elicits a strong burning pain in the low back, just as it had before. I have however done arm and shoulder weightlifting, frequent walking, and even some running without any increase in pain, all of which I assume would hurt if I had a torn/pulled muscle or disc issue. I've attempted to "force" oxygen and blood to the region, as mention by Sarno, through exercise and heat via hot tub to determine if I can get temporary relief that would prove it as TMS, but it's done nothing to change the pain level.

    In general, sitting has been terrible, standing has been better, and walking has been best. The pain appears worse to the touch (sitting in car seats with protruding lumbar supports is pretty rough).

    What I find interesting, and perhaps some others can relate, is the pain in a lot of ways reminds me of the short spasm pain I've always had when I've been out in the cold and my lower back would tense up. In such cases, I'd stretch my back and feel fine. This is obviously more intense and spread out, but it feels similar.

    I've tried to avoid the costs of MRI's and physical therapy to date to determine a physical cause, and judging by the comments of my chiropractor (who also has a psychology background) as the seemingly textbook case explained in Sarno's books, it would seem that it's not physical. Thoughts? Suggestions?
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Your symptoms sound like TMS so I would focus on that rather than MRIs or physical therapy and give TMS a chance.
    Start by reading the posts on the TMSWiki and following advice in Dr. Sarno's and Steve Ozanich's books.
    Try to discover what repressed emotions you have, probably going back to your childhood.

    You're doing really fine and just need to believe 100 percent in TMS and that your pains are not structural.
  3. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    You think its not physical but it could be physical? Listen go and get checked by your DR. To make sure your good to go, if you are then you have tms fair and square. Really I haven't met a person yet that doesn't have some sort of tms. Your writings have tms written all over them . I totally agree with Walt that you have tms but you have to get checked.
    Don't hold off any longer to something that will set you free.
    Alex Bloom LCSW likes this.
  4. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    I'm going to echo Herbie here and say that it while it does sound very likely that your symptoms are linked to TMS, it is important for you to diagnosed by a doctor. Part of overcoming TMS is overcoming our natural inclination to associate pain with structural bodily damage. While it can be easy at times to really feel the connection to TMS, sometimes a flareup of pain at a key moment or a lack of responsiveness to treatment techniques can really call the TMS association into question for a lot of people. This is the time when it is important to look at the evidence and try to be confident in the diagnosis. You must be able to stand up to that voice that is trying to convince you that the pain is even partially structural. This work is vastly easier when you have a doctor's diagnosis or clean MRIs to back you up. They can give you that extra bit of proof that makes space the confidence necessary to overcoming the doubt and fear of TMS. In addition, if there is something structurally going on, it is important to know so it can be dealt with appropriately.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.

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