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Dr. Clarke Stomach Pain

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Zabouseido, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. Zabouseido

    Zabouseido New Member

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

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first time on here and I could really use the help/advice. I have read Dr. Sarno's books and watched a handful of videos on success stories using his methods, and everything resonated with me. His method partially worked with me, but I'm still not sure if the TMS diagnosis applies to my case. So, I will share my story and hopefully someone can help me figure this out.

    This all seems so vague to me now, but this is the best I can do with remembering the events that lead to my chronic pain.

    I have played sports my entire life, and have always been physically active. I especially got into high intensity interval training in 2011-2012 and was getting into really good shape and physical health. I felt strong and confident. I joined kickboxing and was able to handle almost any new work out thrown at me and kept increasing my intensity. I never experienced pain while performing some of the most challenging exercises I've ever done in my life.

    In my spring semester at college in 2012, I had a really bad fight with my roommates to the point where I moved out. I spent the rest of my semester commuting from home which was an hour drive and this made me truly angry, but I eventually got over it and got used to it.

    Everything was fine until the summer of 2012, after one work out. I was kickboxing at home on my own punching bag, and during my work out, I felt this sudden stabbing pain in my lower right abdominal area. So I stopped, iced it, and rested. The pain went away completely after a few days. So, I went back to working out and I felt fine. Throughout the rest of the year from 2012-2013 I felt the pain again only sometimes after working out, but nothing that lasted. So I ignored it and kept pushing through.

    During the span of that year, my relationship with my now ex-boyfriend was rocky. We were constantly fighting. During the summer of 2013 I developed bad acid reflux. I never had this issue before, only the occasional heartburn from certain foods, but nothing intense. However that summer, my acid reflux was so bad that I went to the hospital once in the middle of the night because my chest hurt so much that I couldn't breathe. After monitoring my acidity and changing my diet, it was manageable.

    Then in October of 2013, my ex and I finally broke up after a really heated fight and the last straw for me with him. I was going through months of unhappiness and the verge of depression as a result of our fights. It was rough but after three weeks, I was able to regain my strength and was finding ways to cope and feel happy again. I got a new job and tried to distract myself. My acid reflux even reduced by 90 % and I was starting to enjoy things like coffee again. Then after one work out in November of 2013, I had a horrible stabbing pain in the same lower right abdominal area. It hurt so much I couldn't breathe. I had to drag myself home. I hate visiting doctors so I didn't want to go. I just waited it out a few days like I did before hoping it would go away like it usually does. But it didn't. In fact it got worse. It hurt so bad I couldn't move at all. So finally I went to my physician and she didn't think it was a full tear, just a partial one and advised me to rest, ice, heat, and all that. Weeks passed, then months, and I wasn't feeling any improvement. I gradually stopped all physical activities. I visited every type of specialist to rule out anything else. All of my scans were normal. After going to physical therapy I experienced too much pain so I stopped.

    Then in April of 2014 I developed back pain - and this puzzled me. Where the heck was this coming from? I associated it with sitting too much, or sleeping in awkward positions because of my abdominal pain. The back pain got worse and worse to the point where I couldn't tell what hurt more. I went back to physical therapy, and it made it worse. I had a few stressful/painful encounters during this past year's time period as well, so more stress added on to the back of my head. Then I finally found an amazing physical therapist who I connected with. We talked about emotional factors and that was the first time I took emotions into consideration. The pain as you all may have experienced, takes a toll on your mind, and I have had really dark days because of this.

    Then finally in the winter of 2015, I read Dr. John Sarno's book and it helped me eliminate my back pain by 90%. However, my abdominal pain increased, but this isn't the site of my injury type of pain. This is a heavy bloating pain and I can't seem to make it stop.

    I'm still not sure if I'm suffering the consequences of a torn abdominal muscle but I don't think that it takes a year and a half to heal a torn muscle. If anything - it is tight scar tissue - but does this cause such severe pain?

    Am I experiencing TMS all around or do I have pain from the tight scar tissue?

    Sorry this was so lengthy, but I didn't want to miss any details!

    I am so tired and so ready to rid myself of all pain and could use any help I can get!

    Thanks for your time.

    - Z
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2015
  2. davidclarke

    davidclarke Author & Physician

    Hello Z,
    Sorry to read of your many symptoms. Without access to laboratory tests, imaging studies and physical exam (and you also don't mention your gender) I can't exclude the possibility of an abnormal abdominal organ or, if you are female, a pelvic organ. However, there is at least some circumstantial evidence that your symptoms are TMS (which I prefer to call a psychophysiologic disorder or PPD). This includes the severity of the pain combined with the 16 month duration without a serious abdominal/pelvic problem developing, the lack of findings by your physician, the back and chest pains that link to stress in your life and that your back improved by reading Sarno. (It is common for people who have PPD to experience it in more than one location).

    I should also add that some of my PPD patients who experienced a lot of stress as children reach a point as adults where they dump their disrespectful partners. This is a good thing, obviously, but can be accompanied by growing but often unrecognized resentment over the childhood maltreatment. This resentment, in some people, can manifest as pain or other symptoms. This grossly oversimplifies a complex subject but wanted to mention it in case it was relevant for you.

    What to do: definitely return to your doctor for any symptoms that worry you since there are some abdominal/pelvic conditions that fail to be detected on physical exam or diagnostic tests when they first arise. Also, I recommend a deeper exploration for sources of stress capable of causing physical symptoms. There is a brief screening questionnaire with some explanatory text here (http://www.stressillness.com/overview.php) that might help you get started. You can also pursue this by reading some of the books by Sarno's successors (good ones are listed on this website) or looking for a therapist with experience in PPD.

    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.

  3. Zabouseido

    Zabouseido New Member

    Hello Dr. Clarke,

    Thank you for your response. Sorry I did not clarify I am a female.

    I can see what you're saying about childhood emotional repression but I had a wonderful childhood and grew up with a loving, caring family so I don't think anything in my past could contribute to this. I was very shy growing up and had some trouble with schoolmates at one point. We moved a few times and that was frustrating for me but my real stress and symptoms didn't start until the times I mentioned in my post. After my bad experience with my roommates and then when I was with my ex. It was the first time in my life someone was treating me poorly to that extent.

    I'm just wondering why I'm constantly bloated. I have tried to change my diet again by understanding what triggers IBS symptoms but it hasn't helped. I am a healthy person in general so there isn't much I need to change, other than cutting coffee which is actually making me miserable because I love coffee.

    I was contacted by a helpful therapist through this website so I want to see what therapy may do for me.

    Thanks again.

    - Zain
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Zain. I like Dr. Clarke's reply. I'm also glad you are in contact with a TMS therapist.
    Pain moves around in us because our subconscious mind wants us to dig deep and discover our
    repressed emotions.

    Having difficulty with college roommates is very common. I had some too.
    The same with boyfriends and husbands or ex's.

    You don't need to cut out coffee entirely since it relaxes you. Just maybe cut down on it.

    If you haven't begun the free Structural Education Program, I urge you to begin.
    It's a great series of daily exercises that will help you discover your TMS repressed emotions
    and how that will lead to healing your pain.
  5. beezy

    beezy New Member

    Hey Zabouseido.....wondering if you ever found relief? Im dealing with the same thing
  6. TrustIt

    TrustIt Well known member

    i have been through ALL the guessing games around stomach issues! i became obsessive to the point of fear around food...lost 15 lbs b/c i wasn't eating enough...gradually scrutinizing one thing at a time...is it this? is it that? allergy tests...blah blah blah. i have finally calmed down about it for the most part. i eat healthy b/c i prefer it, but i no longer obsess over ingredients and whether or not what i'm eating is organic or gmo-free, etc. i have read much about eliminating so many things, and coffee is one of them. i love coffee, too. it's my favorite morning "ritual"...so i decided that instead of seeing it as an enemy, i started mixing my caffeinated and defaffeinated beans, just to cut back a bit, but am perceiving it as helpful to my digesstion rather than harmful. there is a lot of info coming out now about how coffee (organic of course, lol) is actually good for some people...so, i conclude, it is good for me! i don't have trouble with coffee or any food for that matter any longer. my issues are tension in my torso due to feeling trapped in social situations where i do not find it easy to talk with people who these days tend to talk all over each other, never listening and respecting the others viewpoints. i can FEEL myself tensing up now, whereas before it would just happen and my stomach would hurt. just notice EXACTLY what just happened in your day that may have bothered you, even if it's just a little, and see if you can locate the body area where pain is manifesting. all this to say, ENJOY YOUR COFFEE and see it as an asset not an enemy!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.

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