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Recurring Elbow Pain

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Jim D., Mar 18, 2013.

  1. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    I am new to this forum, though not at all new to TMS.

    I had one of those miraculous cures from back pain many years ago after following all the usual paths to healing (MRI, physical therapy, massage, ultrasound) without success and then reading Healing Back Pain. And back pain has not returned in any serious way since that occasion. I think that I fully accept the principles of TMS and have used them through the rest of my life to heal from various issues that have come along (mostly real injuries that linger for too long and need some TMS attention).

    But elbow pain (sometimes tennis elbow, sometimes golfer's elbow) has returned again and again. I work out, and exercise is a crucial part of my life. Needless to say, elbow pain is a major roadblock to lifting weights; without using the elbows there isn't much one can do in the gym. I have written several times on the TMS Help Forum about this issue, and--somewhat to my embarrassment--my help offered to others on that site is included on this wiki. Unfortunately the "expert" needs help.

    What have I done about the elbow pain? Besides writing on the other forum mentioned above, I e-mailed Dr. Sopher and, more recently, Steve Ozanich. Sometimes I have worked out in spite of the pain, and eventually the pain went away. Sometimes, on the theory that I might really have injured the tendons, I have taken time off from exercise, then built up gradually to my previous level of workouts. But eventually the pain returns. And, as you might expect, I am going through such an episode now. At first I ignored the pain and kept on working out, but it got really bad. So then I took some time off, and the pain diminished. But when I began to exercise, it started again. And that is what is so difficult about this pain: it seems absolutely linked to what I am doing with my elbow. I know about conditioning. I know about the nocebo effect (the other day I broke down and started looking at tennis elbow sites on the Web, coming across one that offered perhaps the worst nocebo I have ever heard--if you use your injured elbow in any way whatsoever, you will damage it and have to start your recovery from the beginning). I need a TMS physician's diagnosis since I am not sure I have not injured the elbow, but unfortunately I do not live anywhere near a TMS doctor.

    I should add that although I am not positive the elbow problem is purely TMS, I have, without any doubt whatever, a TMS personality. And I have certainly had a life experience recently that would qualify as a stressor (I was forced by the nasty behavior of a supevisor to retire from a job I liked a year earlier than I had planned, I moved from a city where I had lived for 45 years, leaving all my friends behind, to the place where I grew up, and moved into the house where I spent my childhood. All this in the space of 6 weeks.

    Any suggestions would be most welcome.

  2. futuredancer

    futuredancer Peer Supporter

    I think this doubt all TMS-ers have, that the pain could be of physical origin, is just another symptom of TMS, maybe the worst of all. It is like the egg-chicken conundrum. Since this problem is taking a lot of your attention, it does look like TMS at full speed. I can relate to your feelings about that and I guess the only option here is a leap of faith (as it is in my case). I wish I had a more practical suggestion but I wanted to share I feel the same way.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Jim and welcome to the "other" TMS forum :cool:

    I had to smile at your comment about the "expert needing help" because I've decided that's part of the package. Besides, just because you're having a setback certainly doesn't invalidate any advice that even one other person finds helpful! I know you know that intellectually, but part of our personalities is a tendency to be pretty hard on ourselves. So go ahead and have a chuckle about it - but please don't be embarrassed!

    Your recent life events are very significant - that's some tough stuff to deal with, and we know that current stresses are really good at stirring up old repressed emotions which our brains need to keep hidden at all costs. To say nothing of going back to the place where your TMS probably got its start to begin with? Eesh!

    But I can relate - I'm having my own setbacks right now, also due to major personal losses and their fallout, and it's very frustrating given my earlier success - although I have to give myself credit for having a completely different relationship with my symptoms now, compared to B.S. (Before Sarno) and thank goodness for that.

    Anyway - here's my advice for you. I'm kind of a cynical person, which has made me very resistant to the concept of self-love, but people are constantly talking about self-love around here (LOL) and I've been desperate enough lately that I'm finally starting to open up to the idea that I'm not very loving to myself (which is probably a serious understatement), and so I've started to practice it a little bit, and... I think it *might* just *possibly* be an important key for so many of us who have some success at recovery, but who continue to suffer setbacks.

    Here's a thread that someone started, asking if anyone had a book recommendation for self-love, and there were quite a number of responses.
    I posted there, describing the free online interview series called The Self-Acceptance Project which exposes you to two experts each week, being interviewed about this topic and the various therapies or practices that they advocate. They are all different, so you're bound to find something that appeals to you or resonates with you. I've really enjoyed four out of the first five that I've listened to.

    So if you're looking for a new way to get unstuck, give self-love a try! As we like to say here, "it can't hurt"

    I hope you stick around - we're happy you're here.

  4. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    From one cynic to another, thanks for the welcome to the site. That other TMS forum has, in my humble (but infallible) opinion, quite a few participants who stray too far from (or even contradict) the theories of Dr. Sarno to be all that useful to me. When recovery takes longer than people think it should, many reject Sarno entirely or revise his theories to fit their own notions. I just can't understand why anyone keeps posting to a forum dedicated to an approach to an issue with which the poster disagrees.

    To be blunt, the concept of self-love has always repulsed me, as it sounds entirely too close to self-absorption or self-satisfaction. Love of others is supposed to be the guiding principle of a moral life. But, having said that and also acknowledging that self-acceptance is an "acceptable" concept and recognizing that I have practically no acceptance of self, I will take a look at the Self-Acceptance Project you mention, and I thank you for the link.

  5. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    I don't think anyone rejects his theories entirely. I think people just struggle with what's really useful for THEM, and what just doesn't work for them.

    When I first joined this forum in January, I admitted I had some problems with some of Sarno's ideas, and asked if I had to believe everything in order to accept TMS. Someone (I think it may have been Forest) said that Sarno's main point, and the thing I had to believe, was that my physical pain could be psychogenic in origin. I had no trouble believing that (because of a personal loss I experienced just before my pain started), and then "could be" gradually morphed into "is."

    A lot of the other stuff I have struggled with (i.e. is it necessarily repressed ANGER or could it be something else causing the pain) but that really doesn't matter. You need to find what resonates for you and find your own way.
  6. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    I may have been unclear, but the forum about which I was speaking is not this one, but TMSHelp. And on that forum there definitely have been people who rejected Dr. Sarno's theories. In fact, the founder of that forum eventually came to doubt the theories to a degree that he left the group and turned the forum over to the very helpful and knowledgeable person who runs it now. Doubters certainly have a right to their own opinions, but expressing them sometimes causes people just beginning the TMS process to question the whole enterprise. I have not seen that on this forum. I agree with you, gailnyc, that one does not have to believe every detail. When I first came across Healing Back Pain while browsing in a Barnes & Noble, I said to myself, "This sounds like another scam, but it can't hurt, so I'll try to keep an open mind as I read the book. I have tried everything else for my back." I'm not sure how open I was (maybe 50%?), but it worked. After I had finished the book, I laid it down, went to my rowing machine, got on, and there was no pain. That sort of instant cure is, of course, not typical--of most people and of me in subsequent TMS episodes.
  7. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    No, you were clear. I haven't noticed total rejection of Sarno's ideas there, just some people who are struggling with what they do or don't believe.

    I was unfamiliar with the forum's history. Who was the founder?

    I had a similar experience when I first read the book. I didn't realize that TMS would return the way it has, and that it would be much harder to defeat the second time around.
  8. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    The founder was called Austin Gary. He was a firm believer in Sarno at first but came to believe his pain was caused by his holding his body in a "rictus" (by which I think he meant an unconscious tension--physical tension). Obviously I am oversimplifying his views. The forum was taken over by a member named Dave, who is a firm believer in Sarno's theories and has been helpful to many members, including me, over the years.
  9. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

  10. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    Here I am again, three months later, still struggling with elbow pain. As I got back to lifting weights and increased the weight each week (as is recommended by experts), the elbow pain returned. It was horrible about a week ago, so I took six days off, doing no exercise that involved elbows (which eliminates practically everything, of course). My mental state improved--it's pretty simple, no pain, no depression. Today I returned to exercising, using the same weights as I was using previously. Not too bad during the workout, but terrible afterward. The conclusion is all too obvious: if I stop working out, I will be fine. That is not an option I am happy with, but I can't stand the pain. It is very difficult to accept that this is conditioning because the correlation between working out and experiencing pain is exact. I even feel a bit foolish denying the connection. Is it possible, I begin to ask myself, that the body (especially the joints) has physical limits in how much weight one can lift, and when I go over those, pain ensues? That seems entirely logical. But I can still see Dr. Sarno in his video responding to someone in the group who says he hurt himself because he lifted a weight too heavy for him. Dr. S. dismisses this logic completely: if a weight were too heavy for you, you wouldn't be able to lift it. I am seriously contemplating giving up working out with weights and just letting myself get flabby--flabby with painfree elbows.

    Any insights?
  11. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi again Jim - it was good to "meet" you on the chat last Saturday.

    I don't have any great insight into your question, and indeed, I have one TMS-equivalent (dizziness) which I still struggle with after almost two years at this. I know it's TMS, because it goes away when I'm distracted by other things, but it's always there when I'm out walking, which is quite distressing. It actually went away for a number of months shortly after I discovered Dr. Sarno/TMS, but came back when I experienced two personal losses last summer, and has been bugging me ever since. On the other hand, my chronic neck and shoulder pain and accompanying headaches, plus what had been increasing Gi problems, all totally disappeared right from the start, - so like you, I know that success is out there.

    Anyway, there was a reply just before mine from Anne, except she removed it from view, and I don't know why, because I really like what she said - which is to find a different way to get exercise, and let the weightlifting go - for now. Not necessarily forever. That advice actually fits right in with advice from Alan Gordon - in a wiki post that is a personal favorite of mine, and which was really helpful to me when I experienced sudden arm pain a year ago: A Word About Outcome Independence.

    Above all, keep the faith,

  12. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Jan, it's good to see you again, though I am sorry to hear you are struggling.

    I am curious to know how letting go of an exercise temporarily fits in with "Outcome Independence." I thought that the idea of outcome independence was to do anything you want without regard to the pain. To focus on what you could do rather than on how much pain you did/didn't have. Am I misunderstanding?

    Anne seems to have deleted a number of her posts--I wonder why?
  13. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    Thanks for responding. That was my first visit live to the Saturday chat. I must say I found all the competing voices and cross-replies less than helpful. At one point I thought someone was recommending an author to me, and it was actually on an entirely different topic from another visitor. So I guess I will stick to one-to-one responses.

    Sorry about your continuing dizziness. I had that too many years ago. I also find it easy to see that something like dizziness is TMS--one isn't doing anything to cause it, so the physical can't enter so easily into the picture. In my case I think it was before I had found Dr. Sarno. I had an hours-long test for low blood sugar. During the test I experienced all my dizziness symptoms and so thought "aha, this is it, I'm about to find out what is causing this." When I got the test results, however, they revealed that my blood sugar was normal at every stage during the day. No trouble seeing a TMS connection there, I would say.

    I also saw Anne's post and was mystified when I got an e-mail from her. She had decided against posting, and so we e-mailed back and forth for a while. She had some good ideas.

    To update you on my elbow situation: I took about a week off, and, as usual, the pain gradually subsided. I was constantly reading all I could find on the issue on the Wiki and even on TMSHelp. I thought of trying to find someone with whom I could do therapy, someone familiar with tendonitis, such as Alan Gordon. But I had read somewhere that he is no longer taking clients. Meanwhile I tried to look for inconsistencies in my pain. I didn't stop exercise completely so was using the elliptical (no elbow involvement of any significance) and doing a few leg exercises. While there was no pain during the workout, I had some during the night. That, I think, is an inconsistency and a sign of potential TMS. Today I went back to very light weights with one exercise involving arms. I'll see what happens.

    Thank you again for your concern and attention. I appreciate it. And I hope you can find the source of your dizziness. I know that it is really scary and leads one to catastrophize about what it might mean.

  14. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    Did a search on tennis elbow and found this thread. I have Tms. i went through this program November 2012 with great success. I still have numerous symptoms but work the program to manage them...journaling, walking 4 plus miles each day, meditating and so on.

    6 weeks ago I played pickle ball for the first time. i want a sport that focuses my mind. I played only once and my elbow hurt like crazy. Today I played again 6 weeks later. All week as I anticipated playing my elbow would hurt. I thought you darn TMS. well, now my elbow is throbbing. I asked the teacher. The first thing she asked was if I was gripping the paddle too tight. I said "oh yes, I'm a gripper"

    I want to continue to play regularly and will certainly loosen my grip. It makes total sense to be TMS. Any advice?
  15. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Stella,

    How about working with Outcome Independence? I'd tell my brain, I'm going to play this game whether I have pain or not because I want to, and I will enjoy playing it, pain or no pain.
  16. Stella

    Stella Well known member

    Yes, i will. My elbow is twitching again. Nothing will stop me.

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