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Psychostimulants and TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by eightball776, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. eightball776

    eightball776 Well known member

    I have been taking Ritalin for about 6 years now, and it has been pretty darn effective as a treatment for my attention/focus issues. I hesitate to label it 'ADD', because it is more than likely my problems with attention were the direct result of a combination of TMS & chemical imbalances originally caused by other medications, malnutrition, etc., but the result is the same. Forgetting for a moment all of the reasons why long-term dependency on this type of medication isn't ideal, I have recently become very interested in the connection between the drug & my TMS/low-back pain.

    Quick background….I’ve worked in IT for 20 yrs and it became impossible for me to sit upright at a desk for an 8-hour work day a long time ago. These days I spend most of my working hours in a reclined/zero-gravity position. When I was practicing progressive relaxation a while back, I started to become much more aware of specific muscles and especially what I was doing with my lower back. I realized that I was tightening that area unconsciously throughout the day, even when in a reclined position watching TV. This is no doubt a huge factor in my chronic low-back pain. Even though I am aware of it now, I still catch myself doing it all the time for no apparent reason. Here’s where it gets a little confusing…

    Is it the TMS that causes me to unconsciously tighten the muscles, knowing that it will result in pain and therefore create the distraction my brain needs? That feels a little too devious…could my own brain be that passive aggressive?

    During a couple of weeks off of the Ritalin, my back pain improved quite a bit. It is hard to draw a direct link because I was also on a lot of Prednisone at the time, which likely had a much greater impact. However I noticed that I am definitely tightening the low-back muscles much more frequently while under the influence of the Ritalin. I am starting to consider whether this could be a huge factor in what’s causing my back pain, and am looking for any advice on how to train my brain/muscles to stop doing this. Going off of the medication isn’t realistic right now (though I would like to slowly get rid of it), so I need to figure out how to train my subconscious to cut it out!

    Any input/advice/shared related experiences appreciated!
    jaumeb likes this.
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I never took a psychostimulant, but unconsciously tightening my muscles was always present when I had TMS. When I was in the throes of TMS (fibromyalgia and chronic migraines primarily), and prior to learning about TMS, I took prednisone for about a week for severe allergies, and ALL my symptoms went away. It was like a miracle, and I thought it might be the answer for all my chronic symptoms. Unfortunately though, after about 7 days of prednisone I completely crashed and had zero energy. It took me about a month to get back to baseline, and of course, all my TMS symptoms returned. So I would say that based on my experience, taking Ritalin isn't effecting your TMS. Tensing muscles is part of TMS. The prednisone is probably the reason your back pain went away, though I don't understand the mechanism.
    jaumeb likes this.
  3. eightball776

    eightball776 Well known member

    Sure - though when I am taking the Ritalin, I notice that I tighten those muscles much more frequently. So much so that there must be a correlation. Since it's still technically a voluntary action, there must be a way to condition my muscle memory to stop it before it starts. Simply being aware of it is definitely helpful, but when I enter hyper-focus mode, it is easy to shut that part of my brain off and the signal that says 'tighten up' is allowed to squeak by. When I notice it an hour later, the damage has already been done, and I am left dealing with the pain associated with keeping any muscle tightened for an extended period of time. Maybe what I'm after doesn't necessarily exist, but I wonder if there is some sort of conditioning exercise I could do to train my brain to shut this off, sort of like what people do for TMJ or Restless Leg Syndrome. I'll do some research into those areas as well. Thank you!
    jaumeb likes this.

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