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Alex B. Stubborn spine pain

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by interstellar, Dec 10, 2014.

  1. interstellar

    interstellar Peer Supporter

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

    Well, I could probably ask a million questions at this point but I'll go with the one that's really bothering me the most. I am wondering if my type of pain is consistent with other people's description of their back pain...I had a weird treatment done by a chiropractor called flexion distraction in which he basically stretched my spine over multiple sessions to "make room for my disc to heal." Before this treatment my pain was primarily in the SI joint area as well as the erector muscle above it. After this treatment and him telling me not to bend, sit, twist, or lift my pain spread into my spine where he was "stretching." At first I thought I was just a little sore from the stretching of the spine but eventually the pain became unbearable and I could barely move around. It's been roughly 6 months since I stopped this treatment and through an amazing physical therapist I have reduced the pain by 50% or so. But I had hit a wall with pt too so I looked for other answers. Luckily I found Dr Sarnos books and they have already helped tremendously. Im moving much better in just two weeks, my groin pain is much better and my pelvis pain is almost gone. But the pain in my spine is still there, and it seems as if it has spread a little bit. What concerns me the most is the type of pain I get in my spine. I can do 20 pushups, but I can barely bend forward enough to touch my knees with my legs straight. When I do bend forward, it almost feels like my spine is going to explode out of my back. Extreme tightness accompanied with pain. I guess I'm wondering if any of this is common among people with back pain. And I know that the type of "exploding pain" I get in my spine came while getting my spine stretched by the chiropractor, so I think that's why I'm having a hard time accepting that this pain isn't from that treatment and maybe that's why it hasn't gone away. If anybody could shed some light on this I would appreciate it.
  2. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Intertellar,

    Thanks for the question. First and foremost it is important to verify that you don't indeed have a structural problem in your spine. Have you gotten an MRI for the affected area? The goal of this is to rule out any alternatives so that you can be confident that what you are facing is indeed TMS. The good news is that you have some very strong evidence that it is, mainly the dramatic success you have already have by approaching your symptoms from a TMS perspective.

    The phenomenon that you are describing is very common. I will often speak with clients who have terrible symptoms but are then exposed to either a sarno book, the wiki or TMS therapy and are able to see dramatic changes but with specific exceptions. In your case we can see that it is your back pain. Now the reason for this can very often be straightforward, and to understand it, it's important explore some of the underlying components of TMS. Put simply, your back pain is an exception because you are still terrified of it. It is still able to scare you, keep you feeling disempowered, weak and vulnerable. For whatever reason, your other symptoms were much easier for you to face and see as TMS. Once this is the case, the symptoms will often dissipate because they no longer have power over you. But your spine is different. The way you write about it makes evident the intense fear and preoccupation that the pain you feel there elicits. Not only that, but it makes sense to you. You went to the chiropractor, and afterwards you felt pain. As long as you are able to provide the pain that rationale for its own existence it is that much harder to overcome the fear associated with it.

    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. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    I agree with Alex that this particular symptom is hanging on because it has such a powerful hold on you. I had back surgery 20 years ago from a ruptured disc with intense sciatica that lingered for years. Then more recently incredible one sided pain in my right shoulder/neck/head. This was about two years ago. I had an MRI which revealed multiple ruptured cervical discs. My PT and doctors all recommended surgery. I think this made my TMS work much harder. It was a real process to not hear the little voices telling me the pain truly was structural. I don't know if I could go back if I would have done it any differently though. The MRI did show conventional structural causes but it was a known entity as opposed to the anxiety the great unknown can create. I did get a second opinion from a TMS doctor from a distance that did help give me the confidence to pursue working on the TMS. Please do not take my timeline as any sort of guideline on how long your TMS recovery will take. But here I am several years later and I have no pain in my head/neck/shoulder. I am still struggling with some anxiety and a few other symptoms but I don't have any doubt about what is going on with me. I just need to keep working on it. So to start with, the fact that you are trying to compare your symptoms to others and assess if it is similar enough to qualify as TMS, is a clear sign that you are too focused on the pain. We all do this so I don't mean that as a criticism. Its just a signal, the TMS has effectively got you. As far as how not to focus on the pain and to develop confidence that the pain is indeed caused by TMS, this may be a process. Perhaps you do need to get an MRI and explore the potential structural causes to your satisfaction before you can move on. I asked my doctors point blank if they thought it would be safe for me to wait 6 months before surgery. They said yes. Then after 6 months I had seen enough progress and inconsistencies in the structural diagnosis that surgery was off the table. Keep an evidence sheet. Write down each time you notice the pain is not there or things that don't quite match up with a structural diagnosis. Research outcome independence and apply it whenever possible. The TMS is not going to necessarily conform to anything too predictable, its as variable as your subconscious, and this can be really frustrating. Just try to be more stubborn and persistent than the TMS and eventually you will create a wonderful, pain free life. It could take 5 minutes, a day, a couple months, several years and how long it takes may or may not have anything to do with how hard you are working at it. Its a very individual thing, as unique as your own life experience and personality. That is for you to figure out and discover. But outcome independence is one of the toughest things to grasp and follow and it is also really important to recovery. I think you are going to do great!
    Ellen and mike2014 like this.
  4. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Interstellar, Anne has given you some great, thoughtful, advice. Don't monitor your pain or wonder if others have it.
    Try not to think about it.

    Doctors don't always know best when they rush us to surgery. One said I had a pimple on my neck that he thought was cancerous (he was head of cancer surgery at a major hospital) and scheduled an appointment for me to get surgery. My family doctor had told me to insist on a culture being taken first, and I had to be very firm with the surgeon that I wanted a culture taken first. He finally
    relented, took the culture, and when I called later about the results, his nurse said, "Oh, that was just a water blister. No problem."

    The blister went away by itself and I didn't have my neck cut open.
    The thought of having my neck cut into gave me TMS fear, but I soon overcame it.
    Anne Walker likes this.
  5. interstellar

    interstellar Peer Supporter

    thanks so much! i will keep working as long as it takes!

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