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Melany C. Responding to the Pain

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by tomlincs, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. tomlincs

    tomlincs Newcomer

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.


    I am very new to the TMS world and have come across it after I had wondered if anxiety could actually cause pain in my leg.

    I had a bulging/prolapsed disc about 2 years ago and suffered with real bad lower back pain which went after a few weeks but was left with sciatica in my left leg. I went to see a physio and at the same time my anxiety was coming back strong for the first time in years. After a few months of processing my anxiety I had noticed my leg pain had gone.

    I have carried on my life as normal for 2 years pain free. I have really been enjoying the gym and decided to sign up to a 12 week program with a personal trainer. Literally days before my first session, my back was hurting really bad and my leg came back as bad as ever. I didn't dare do the first session and went to see my physio etc, then I decided against advice and thought I would just do my 12 week program, I am only a couple of weeks in to it and my back feels great but my leg still flares up and most noticeably it is just before I go to the gym, as if I its telling me not to go!

    It is so bizarre. Some moments I feel perfectly normal and the next moment I am in lots of pain. I am thinking to myself that if the sciatic nerve wasn't happy it would be constant pain and not random. I have suffered really bad with anxiety and OCD over the years and am pretty much over all of that, I am aware of what the mind can do to have a hold over you and control your body.

    What I am struggling with, is say this is TMS, mentally what do I do in the moment I am feeling the pain? how do I move forward and get this pain to stop flaring up when I am stressed etc? ... with anxiety, OCD I have to face my thoughts and fears, concentrate on them and eliminate all fear. When i concentrate on my leg though it just gets worse!

    Any help would be very very much appreciated.

    Thank you all.

  2. Melany Cohen LMFT CHT JD

    Melany Cohen LMFT CHT JD TMS Therapist


    Hi Tom,

    Welcome to the TMS world! The fact that you’re able to see the connection between anxiety and pain means you’re off to a great start.

    You write, “Say this is TMS…what do I do? The answer lies within the question. If you know it’s TMS, SAY this is TMS! Say it loud, say it multiple times, shout if from the rooftops! You get my drift.

    It seems from the way that you’re asking the question that you have some uncertainty about the nature of your pain. That’s not meant to be a criticism. Many of us TMS sufferers start from a place of wondering about the nature of our pain. That’s good. But the next thing you have to do is get really clear and really certain! You have done a lot of great evidence gathering up until now. You referenced a history of anxiety, fluctuating symptoms, symptom reduction after doing emotional processing. These are all factors that point in the direction of TMS.

    Remember that accepting that your pain is not structural is a key part of recovery! If there’s even a tiny part of you that believes your leg pain could have a medical cause, it can be very hard to feel safe. It’s hard to communicate a message of safety to your brain if you think you’re causing physical damage every time you sit, walk, or, in this case, go to the gym.

    Being certain about the nature of your pain will also help guide you to know what to do when the pain comes on. Once you fully accept that your pain is not structural, sometimes all you need to do is remind yourself by saying some phrase that makes sense to you (“This is TMS and it’s reversible. Or I have TMS and I can cure myself”). Use whatever strong, powerful phrase appeals to you and repeat it multiple times whenever you feel the pain.

    It’s no wonder that when you concentrate on your leg now, the pain gets worse. Whenever you focus on it, there’s still a battle going in in your mind over whether there is something really wrong. Once you can tell yourself with certainty that it’s TMS and you’re able to observe the pain without caring whether it gets better or worse (i.e. without the FEAR associated with the pain), you should be well on your way to recovery.

    Enjoy your workouts!

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love this from Melany: strong and powerful.

    Positive affirmations are recommended all the time, but people sometimes confuse positive affirmations with what I call "fake happy-face" statements. The key is not to pretend that everything is wonderful and nothing is wrong, but to substitute negative thinking with Strong and Powerful thinking.

    I have always had an exercise phobia, so I work with a trainer regularly, otherwise I would never get around to exercising, and at 66, I am determined to stay healthy and maintain my bone strength. Whenever my trainer wants me to do something that scares me, or that I simply don't like doing, I force myself to face my negative self-talk, and then to flip it. I tell myself that there is nothing wrong with me, that my trainer knows what she's doing (she does!) and that by doing this exercise, my muscles and bones will become stronger. I visualize myself becoming healthier every time that I exercise with full commitment.

    This simple technique is surprisingly effective - it's strong, and it's powerful!

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