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Sharing my RSI story

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Circle, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. Circle

    Circle Newcomer

    Hi all, I'm a new forum member. I want to share my story and hopefully a journey to become pain-free.

    Firstly, I apologize for the very long post, but typing this is really cathartic to me.

    TL;DR: I'm a long-term RSI sufferer, but attributing my pain to TMS and shifting my thinking to help me be pain-free seems to be helping already. I'm optimistic that I'll be pain-free soon!

    I've suffered from RSI-type symptoms for many years, on and off. My pains have never quite become catastrophic as I've always rested from whatever's causing the paint before it gets too bad, but this has lead to a kind of hypersensitivity when it comes to the signs of pain. I've been through it too many times, trying to work through pain and making it worse. So I ended up knowing I had to stop before it got too bad.

    Pain has been in my wrists, elbow, shoulders, top of the trapezius (particularly while working in an office job), a knee, neck, back, arms between the elbow and wrist (both on top and on the underside), carpal tunnel, foot, and worst of all, fingers. I am a musician who goes between a musical keyboard and a computer keyboard constantly, so this has really dealt a blow to my work and introduced stress from the fear of everything falling apart. Ergonomic PC peripherals have done little to help the pain from repetitive mouse clicking, not that it had ever been a problem before. The finger pain has never gone above a 3/10 but it's honestly the fear of being unable to work that's the worst.

    I've tried finding new ways to do everything, but those compensatory methods would end up painful too because they were slightly awkward. I'd end up kicking the can down the road until I couldn't think of a painless way to do what I needed and I had to tell people depending on me that I wasn't able to do my job. I'm sure the stress of that alone made it worse: A negative feedback loop.

    I've seen multiple hand therapists, I've consulted my doctor, I've seen various physiotherapists, I've tried rest, strengthening, arm braces, etc etc etc, and those methods don't seem to have solved anything. I've searched endlessly online and tried various stretches and massages, but I've been so frustrated that nothing seems to be able to properly deal with this.

    Dr Sarno's book "The Mindbody Prescription" has been gathering dust in my Kindle library for a couple of months but after desperately searching online for how to deal with finger pain a couple of nights ago, I was reminded of the book and finished reading it yesterday. Only two days ago I was gingerly typing on the keyboard, slowly, and got horrible finger pain very quickly. Yet after shifting my thinking and letting go of the fear of pain from typing, I'm typing my post here like I would any other time. I feel keyboard use tends to be fine, but I need to overcome the fear of normal mouse clicking. I still feel tense and have a cold sensation of fear in my mouse arm when I go to use the mouse as I normally would, but I want to overcome this fear.

    I've only just begun to write out my repressed frustrations on paper and last night while exploring my feelings, I discovered I was still holding onto frustrations from the way a fairweather friend shut me down a few weeks ago for telling a joke that he personally didn't like. After venting my frustrations alone, I felt a cathartic release of tension and I've felt far better today.

    Interestingly, the pain has "moved around" a bit today, which it hasn't really done before, but I think the power of suggestion of reading Dr Sarno's book could have made that a possibility in my mind, which then manifested itself physically. Some in my shoulder (could be from a gym workout the day before), some in my knee, other fingers, VERY strangely in the middle of my thigh which has never had any cause for pain, and some in the lower forearm.

    I think a combination of meditation and letting go of the fear of pain is helping me. I hope to return to working freely, 8 hours a day. Not too long ago I had full work days going just fine, but I think a couple of stresses and emotional turmoil around relationships sent me spiraling down.

    After first encountering Dr Sarno's book and reading the first chapter months ago, I dug deep into my psyche and began to confront some extremely upsetting emotions that sent me into a downward spiral of horrible fear and anxiety. I did my best to confront those fears, which were extremely uncomforable. I've done my fair share of ugly crying to deal with it and I believe I've done everything I needed to to settle my conscience and make amends for the things I regret from the past. I no longer have a loss of appetite from those emotions and I feel ready to deal with my own emotions upfront now.

    A person I talk to every day told me they'd noticed I hadn't mentioned any finger pain or other ailments for a while after first mentioning Dr Sarno's book. I didn't even realise myself, but it seems that confrontation of my deepest fears coincided with a reduction in physical pain. More recently it made a return, but I already feel ready to return to more intensive work since finishing the book yesterday. I hypothesize that the mere suggestion of pain (even unconsciously), or worrying about it, causes me to tense up and either begin or worsen physical pain, particularly in my fingers. But hopefully by applying my new knowledge of TMS, I can let go of this fear. In conjunction with confronting my own emotions and frustrations consciously and telling myself I'm aware that pain is a distraction from emotions, I think I'll be able to return to work without fear.

    I also have other hobbies that I would absolutely love to pursue. I've loved drawing for a long time, but last time I got back into it in a big way, my mouse finger started to hurt, even while holding the pencil with a relaxed grip. I was very determined to draw, however, so I used a three-finger grip that didn't involve the mouse finger, but that was awkward and brought on other tension and pain. Being so determined, I tried drawing with my left hand, but the exact same pain came on in my index and third fingers there. I haven't drawn since, and realising I had to give it up made me very sad. It's the hobby I most want to pursue.

    However after reading about and understanding the nature of TMS, I actually feel optimistic again about returning to drawing! It would make me so happy if I could pursue it again.

    Anyway, sorry for this novel-length post. I'm just so excited and optimistic that there might be an end in sight to this seemingly-endless RSI pain I've been dealing with. Perhaps that injury I thought I had is no injury at all (X-ray and MRI results on my fingers showed up nothing whatsoever), and my pain is triggered by emotion, work activity, fear, and the expectation of pain in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I wanted to share my story here, largely to express it in words for my own catharsis, but maybe I can become a story of recovery! Thanks, all.
    Rainstorm B and Hayley like this.
  2. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome to the forum! I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, without any precipitating injury. I ignored the diagnosis and recommended treatments and fully recovered. You are on the right path. Best of luck to you!
    Circle likes this.
  3. Circle

    Circle Newcomer

    Thanks so much! I get all kinds of stuff coming up... Foot pain, both trapezius muscles (as I write this)... The thought of recovering from carpal tunnel pain without following the recommended (and often seemingly useless) treatments somehow makes me laugh, but in a good way. I hope the same can happen for me as I shift my thinking! Thanks for the warm welcome!
    TG957 likes this.
  4. Circle

    Circle Newcomer

    After doing a typing speed test, my worst-affected finger seems to have a small flare-up, but I will persist with just relaxing and not worrying disproportionately. I'll try and tell myself that there is likely nothing wrong physically, just as my MRI showed. Thus the pain is ultimately unnecessary. I'd love to be free of it.
  5. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    If this makes you smile even more: my EMG was bad and I was told that my nerves were damaged. I am doing 30 push-ups now in a single set.
    Circle and Jeather like this.

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