1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Our TMS drop-in chat is tomorrow (Saturday) from 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Eastern (now US Daylight Time) . It's a great way to get quick and interactive peer support, with BruceMC as your host. Look for the red Chat flag on top of the menu bar!

The last hope. RSI, foot/ankle problems and back pain.

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by JoelA, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. JoelA

    JoelA Peer Supporter

    Hi all,
    I am a 25 year old swedish male. I have always lived an active life with golf, year long backpacking trips and weight lifting. Im in my fourth year of environmental engineering studies at a top university in Sweden, with (in theory) a solid career and a good life waiting. Unfortunately, I'm not certain of this anymore and my future looks bleak.

    It all started with injuries. In my third year I studied abroad as an exchange student, and it is during this period of my life where it all began. I was fit, 183cm tall and 83 kgs. In the gym. Doing deadlifts. Something snapped under in my back just below my ribs on the right side. Since then my back has been troublesome. A few months later I sprained my left ankle and also got diagnosed with RSI in both my hands, all within a few months. My panic grew.

    In conclusion, for the last 1,5 years (not long compared to others) I have been suffering from chronic pain in my back and left ankle/foot and due to a repetitive strain injury in my hands and arms. The pain moves around and spreads slowly in my body. IIts like there is this amount of pain that is supposed to be there and Im in best shape where it hurts a little everywhere. While writing this (using a voice software mainly + some manual typing) my hands hurt and the back/foot is not a problem. If I would choose to go for a walk only the foot would trouble me.

    MRI's are clear. No infections, my spine is (almost) perfect and RSI-specialists are puzzled with my hand/finger/arms aching. They have no clue what it is. One doctor diagnosed me with tendonitis (both hands), others say that's not the case (and adds that they dont know the cause). "Go physio and stop complaining". Due to the pain in my ankle I've started to walk somewhat differently, and developed more symptoms added to the original ankle pain. Its now both on the outside/under the "outer part" of my foot, aswell as the ankle. Basicly every step hurts.

    Ive tried everything. I have worked with physiotherapy consistantly for 1 year+. I am a superstubborn person, especially w training. Chiropractor, napraphaty, kinesiology, even healing. Ive tried it all. My core muscles are good, Ive dropped 10kgs (20pounds'ish) thanks to better diet in order to relieve my foot from the extra weight, and Ive done zillions of stretches. My arms are larger due to consistent strengthening. They still hurt as much. At the moment Im going through CBT to accept and live with my pain. Lifting stuff, computerwork, hand writing, walking, riding a bike and basicly just standing up hurts in one way or another. Some days are worse then others. Im am 25 and fit. It doesnt make sense and I am willing to do anything to live a normal life.

    At the moment my plan is to take a year off. Become a yoga teacher, the only type of excercise that does work out reasonable for me.Even with that in mind, I feel sad thinking about my future. I already got huge loans for the 4 years of studies, and a half-handicapped yoga teacher wont make that much money.

    This is my last shot, and of course I feel somewhat desperate writing this. Especially the foot is difficult to accept that it could be psychological, as there there is an actual sprain 15 months ago, and a "overloaded" outer part of the foot due to a compensated way of walking.

    Although, somehow, I have a sense of hope. So many things fit in with the TMS-theory. The me being a really social person but have huge difficulties with some type of emotions, the fearing the pain more then anything else, the 4 personality traits listed on the site that is a reflection of me. The list could go on. I am doing the second day of the wiki-program today. The third tomorrow. This has to work. Has to.

    All kind of support is highly appreciated. Specially in how you are to tackle the fact that Ive been promised recovery several times before, but it has never worked. Why should it be different this time? Please convince me why. Also, how can a pain that clearly origins from the foots impact on the ground in every step I take be psychological?

    My last try.
    kind regards,
  2. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    You've come to the right place for support. According to your post your tests are clear, your pain makes no sense, you've pretty much tried everything else and are at the end of your rope, and you've been promised recovery before so it makes perfect sense to me that you would have little expectation that it could be different this time. Why it "could" be different this time is because you're opening your mind to a completely different approach, there is nothing "physical" about it. The only "therapy" you're going to encounter is going to be between you and a journal (and the fabulous group of supportive people you're going to encounter here). And the very best reason for "why" it might be different is this: You have EVERYTHING to gain, and nothing to loose here. The healing is completely in your control and no one is going to send you a bill for anything.

    You're very likely under way more pressure with school and thoughts of the future than you even consciously realize. And your foot pain could have far more psychological significance than you think. Maybe it's metaphorical pain, for the "stepping on" that you're giving yourself, for the feelings that you're stomping way down deep in there so they're well hidden from you. Take some pressure off, be kind to yourself. Approach the SEP like you would vacation reading, not like a project from one of your professors. If you're kind to yourself and you can manage to keep yourself from being on high alert for "signs of progress" your positive outlook will return quicker.
    Ellen and Forest like this.
  3. Ftaghn!

    Ftaghn! Peer Supporter

    Hej Joel,
    I think the first thing is to see this as a journey rather than a goal -- you won't get there overnight. Take it slow, get acquainted, expect ups and down, and don't expect to be cured tomorrow morning. My own start is similar to yours, within a few months, I got smacked with half a dozen serious symptoms -- many have abated, some endure, all are lessened. Keep in mind that chronic pain, whatever the theory, endures through stress and tension, including the pressure to get cured.

    No one promises recovery -- pick up a Sarno book, or Google it, and see if it fits. There's also a page for scientific proof on the main page, if studies is what you want. Self-pressure is pretty evident even in your post; strong academic performance and career expectations, strong focus(and most likely concern) about your personal image, the urgent desire to be cured("I'll never be better" fear). I'm guessing you wrote this at a bad moment.

    Stick around if you doubt. Take the time to investigate TMS-related stuff. Specifically, check out the stories sections. I think that's a good place to start.
    Ellen and Forest like this.
  4. quert

    quert Guest

    Hi Joel,

    When you're just starting out, finding information that is specific to your diagnosis can be very reassuring and help you build up hope. Try checking out some of the following pages of information about TMS and RSI:
    They might give you the tools you need to convince yourself!
  5. JoelA

    JoelA Peer Supporter

    Thanks to both of you for answering. Both of you have valid points, which I will take into serious consideration. I've ordered the Mindbody Prescription. Again, thank you. Feel free to suggest articles etc that you would consider worth reading. Everything is valuable.

    quert: yeah thanks! been reading those, and many of them fit in a way I thought wasnt possible. Btw is it this the first post in approximately half a year I am writing 2 complete paragraphs without my vr. "Since there is nothing wrong with my hands/fingers".

    Leslie likes this.
  6. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    You've made a great start!

    It sounds like your body/mind wants to make sure you are distracted by the pain no matter what you're doing, so when you sit your arms hurt and when you walk your foot hurts. (I sympathize--I have foot pain also that keeps me from normal walking.)

    You might try searching on tmshelp.com also. It's been around a really long time, while tmswiki has only been around for about a year. What you'll find is not only people with every imaginable kind of pain, but people who were in the same predicament as you when they started thinking it might be tms--that "I can't believe my brain is actually doing this to me!" feeling. After awhile you'll realize that almost any pain can be tms, the weirder the better for your brain, which doesn't want you to figure out what's going on.

    Good luck on your journey!
  7. JoelA

    JoelA Peer Supporter


    So today is truly a up-up-up day.

    I am listening to the divided mind (audio book) right now. It all makes such tremendous sense. In 72 hours, from first seeing Forest's (is it?) video on youtube talking about his RSI problem, I now 100% believe my "RSI" and my back will be fine, and I can, with mild amount of pain, already type on my computer. Ive taken the first steps to freedom, could it really be true? This text I am writing right now is along with my previous post the first sentences Ive written in over a year.

    Although, my ankle foot/problem makes me worried. This monday I saw a physiotherapist (hopefully for the last time) that concluded that there is a actual physical problem with my foot/ankle and it IS unstable due to somewhat stretched ligaments. (Notice: There are doctors that have said the opposite and my MRI.) is clear I was caused by a sprain in january-12, when I managed to sprain it outwards as my "little-toe-area" got pushed upward towards my shin from stepping on a hidden root under a bed of leaves. This caused pain "in" the ankle and it got diagnosed as a bone bruise. As I started to compensate in the way I walked the pain creeped further to the area of the cuboid bone http://www.myfootshop.com/images/anatomy/dp_foot_mod_lat_column.jpg. See link for the troubled area. Added to the above problems there is a sensation of overusage under the affected area (the cuboid bone and the metatarsal bone).

    So my question is basicly, could these be symptoms of TMS aswell? Or are they likely to be structural? Or could it be a mix? Thankful for all answers, they are really really helpful. Im done with day three on the educational programme, so addicted to this site just reading everything I can. Thank you all for your time and effort.
  8. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    I'm not a doctor or an anatomy expert but it seems to me that an injury that happened 15 months ago would be healed by now. I believe Dr. Sarno referenced breaking the femur and unless there was nerve damage it would be healed better than new in about 8 weeks. He said the entire body had that capacity. You're well over 52 weeks with that injury, sounds like TMS to me.
  9. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    I agree with Leslie. TMS and look how it's working--it's getting you to focus on it and worry!
  10. JoelA

    JoelA Peer Supporter

    Day 6. /4-13

    Today I read what a critic of the theory had to say about the theory, and doubt kicked in. Its regarding the possibility to prove that the theory is correct or not. According to him thats very doable but Dr Sarno has instead (in the last 20 years!) focused on treating patiens instead of taking a few months off and expedite the previous. This makes me FEEL that I am risking my hands and fingers using a computer again due to something that is.. wrong. What should I do w this?

    edit: just looked at the previous comments again, starting to read the content of the "medical evidence"-link now!
  11. Imagyx

    Imagyx Peer Supporter

    Hey Joel.
    I know where you are exactly.
    I struggle with RSI-ish pain in my arms from computer work myself
    and want to really believe the pc is only the trigger. I read Steve O.'s book "The great pain deception"
    till 35 % today and it really makes me want to try and push trough myself.
    For the last months I've felt like I need to push through the pain like he did to finally
    get out of it. But as you said yourself there's this nagging fear of "risking" hands and fingers
    for something that's so far away (I'm from Europe like yourself), meaning I can't speak to a TMS-pro directly
    to give me more confidence. Not that I don't believe those who try to help me here, but it's a different thing
    to speak to someone directly.
    So maybe read that book yourself and see if it can get you somewhere.
    Steve's story about his journey made me cry actually, which happens almost never concerning emotions.
    I hope to get to the point where I'm brave enough to do what's necessary, but I sometimes think I'm not
    there anymore where I got nothing to lose trying anything.
    Keep up the emotional work and read, read, read.
    I wish you all the very best.
  12. Friendlygal12

    Friendlygal12 New Member

    Hi Joel!
    I just wanted you to know that I empathize with what you are going through. When I read the part about your fear of becoming a "half-handicapped yoga teacher" tears sprang to my eyes because I know exactly how that feels. I am currently on track to become a professor and for years I was terrified by the increasing pain in my wrists, shoulder, and back, all of which would have made it nearly impossible to do that. If you can, try not to go down that road in your mind; keep focused on the present and remind yourself that you can heal.

    As for "medical evidence," continue to read Sarno- he discusses how after his original group healed once he realized the true cause for their back pain, he followed up with them and they had ongoing success. Also, I think it is Sarno, mentions that the greatest evidence is the fact that people have become pain-free by reading the book, accepting it as truth, and (usually, in the case of others on these forums) combining it with journalling or therapy. Whereas many of the back surgeries (for instance) have been found to be no more successful in pain relief than a sham surgery!

    On that note, I was going to suggest Unlearn Your Pain by Schubiner, but try his series of videos first. He really gets into the medically proven psychological components of pain (it took me some convincing too, can you tell?) :) Really concentrate on what he is saying as if you an in a university lecture. I think you will find it immensely helpful.
    http://www.unlearnyourpain.com/index.php?MBS/TMS Lecture

    Re: your ankle/foot problem... yes. It sounds like TMS to me, based on my experience with ankle pain that lasted for years. Remember, injuries heal. Even a fracture of the femur, the body's biggest bone, heals in a matter of a couple months. If the pain becomes chronic, this is a sign that TMS has begun.

    I hope this helps, and best wishes.
  13. Friendlygal12

    Friendlygal12 New Member

  14. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    JoelA, I just stumbled across one item that you mentioned in your original post about how prior to the onset of your lower back problems and RSI something "snapped" in your back while weight lifting. I believe that you'll find that Dr Sarno talks about this "snap" or "pop" in the lower lumbar region as one of the classic symptoms that occur before the onset of TMS symptoms. It could be in Healing Back Pain or the Mind-Body Prescription, but he also mentions it in his video while working with a group of TMS patients. I'm no MD, but it sounds to me as if that's one of the first signs that your back muscles are tensing due to emotional pressures you've been putting on yourself. At your age, the spinal degeneration or bulging disk diagnosis just won't hold water I'd say. I know that the engineering course curriculum you're going through is quite demanding and that you must be putting a whole lot of pressure on yourself to complete it. Makes me ask the question, what kind of emotional support are you getting from family, friends and SO (significant other)? Self-soothing is also very important in such a situation and a system of planned emotional rewards (i.e. planned by yourself despite anything anyone else says!)
  15. JoelA

    JoelA Peer Supporter

    11/4-13 DAY 10

    BruceMC: Sounds reasonable. At that time (when I first hurt my back) Id just moved to Singapore for a year of exchange studies, I had left all friends etc at home and knew noone. At this point in my life I met 2-3 new ppl everyday and it was of course stressful in many ways. You wanna make a good first impression right? On top of that I traveled with new ppl just the days before the injury and I was exhausted both physically and psychologically. In a retroperspective its likely that the pressure of making "the trip of my life" even better acted as severe emotional pressure. After the injury my focused shifted to my back, so in that case it actually makes sense. Then again, the day before I HAD been kayaking for the first time in ages (about 10kms) and my back was aching. Nonetheless I went to the gym to do my deadlifts... And my story began.

    At the 10th day in the programme you get asked if there are any doubts or thoughts. One thing that popped up in my head is how to tackle the fine line between social activites (such a company-dinner + a project leader course, which potentially could lead to a job and networking opportunities) that I SHOULD go to but deep down DONT WANT TO attend because "I dont feel like it" and/or "its too much pressure to sit there and socialize all evening". Basicly I feel the latter in many situations, and I am by nature lazy. But my driving force has always been SHOULDS and people-pleasing/acknowledgement of good work. I dont know how to change that. So are there guidelines from a TMS-perspective how to deal with these situations?

    I am immensely grateful for all support. I have since the 1st day of the programme gone back to using computers. My hands ache, but not as bad as I could have imagined. Its a relief I tell you. And makes me confident that I CAN overcome this.

    EDIT: Just want to share my favourite quote, which I has as a screensaver atm. For me, TMS in one sentence.

    "The key to getting better is eliminating the doubt you have that there could be some physical, rather than psychological cause."
    gailnyc likes this.
  16. Friendlygal12

    Friendlygal12 New Member

    Hi Joel!
    What great news. It seems like you are picking up confidence in your ability to overcome this!

    I think I get what you mean- it is a tough line to draw between a "should" (that is driven by the people-pleasing side) and a "should" that is driven by doing what would be in our best interest. For instance, sometimes I really don't want to do my schoolwork and just am truly being lazy and would rather watch television (when really I should be doing the work because it is in my best interest to and is in line with my career goals).
    Some shoulds, I think, are okay, if they are in line with our personal goals and values. A little self-motivation to work hard and not fail is just fine. So maybe attending a dinner or two would fall more under that category, since it is ultimately for your self-betterment.

    On the other hand, something that feels like un-due self-imposed pressure might be, for instance, you feeling that you should volunteer to watch your neighbour's dog while he is out of town even though he could pay someone else to do it (shoulds/goodist coming into play). Or saying yes to every social invite without taking any downtime for yourself.

    I hope this helps!
    Forest likes this.
  17. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Friendlygal, you hit the mark with this one. There will always be events that come up that we don't want to do, but feel like we should do them, and I think this is an important question Joel is asking. Sometimes you may need to put your needs first, and do what you want to do. That is a perfectly acceptable t hing to do. But I also think it is enough to simply understand that going to these events, upsets us.

    When we are repressing our emotions, we will do the shoulds but not recognize just how enraging they are. A lot of times, all that is needed to get better is to understand that these events are in fact things we really don't want to do. It is also important to practice some self-soothing during these times as well, especially if an event is provoking a significant amount of anxiety, which group dinners and interviews can do. This is something that Alan Gordon talks about a lot in the webinars, especially regarding the self care stuff.

    Joel, as I read through this thread it sounds like a lot of what you are going through is pretty similar to what I went through. My hands,wrists, and arms hurt so much that I also had to use voice recognition software. I am glad that listening to my story was helpful, and I would encourage you to read through more and more stories. We have quite a few RSI success stories, and I am sure there are several others that you would also find helpful.
  18. Leslie

    Leslie Well known member

    There is a great book where the author talks about the word "should" and how she feels we would all be so much better off if it were to be eliminated from the english language because of the pressure it adds to people. She says the problem with the word is that it conflicts with reality. If we "should" be doing something then clearly we are not currently doing it, like "I should be cleaning my house (reality is I'm sitting in a chair typing this post)". The inverse with "should nots" is equally as conflicting with reality, like "I should not have eaten that 3rd piece of cake" (the reality is you did eat that 3rd piece of cake otherwise you wouldn't be having any thoughts about it at all). I've been following her suggestion for doing everything possible not to use that word in my speaking, writing, and most importantly in my thoughts. If I find it pop into a thought or about to come out of my mouth I really focus on finding another word that would make the sentence true. So the shame & pressure filled thought of "I should be cleaning my house" becomes, "I would like to be more relaxed and knowing my house is clean helps promote relaxation so I want to get the cleaning done" or "I really don't feel like cleaning the house and it's relaxing and encouraging reading posts on the forum so I choose to do that instead". Either way I've completely changed the amount of self-imposed pressure I've put on myself.
    marjrc likes this.
  19. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, since you're already so 'painfully' aware about the pressures such functions place on you, Joel, it seems as though you should figure out some other self-rewarding, self-soothing activities to balance them out in your psyche. I remember that when I had to attend all-afternoon engineering product design review meetings (where such exciting matters as secondary sourcing screws and nuts and bolts were the chief topic of conversation for 5 or 6 hours), I would take off on my road bike after work and go hill climbing in the Santa Cruz Mountains. When I ended my day racing downhill at 40 mph back to my apartment in Palo Alto, I'd completely forgotten the torture of the mandatory meeting. If you gotta, you gotta, but that doesn't mean you should as a consequence ignore your basic emotional needs. I get a feeling that the big contrast between the boring meeting in the stuffy office and the feeling of freedom those rides gave me actually complimented each other. I don't think the ride would have been so enjoyable if I hadn't had to 'stuff it' during the meeting first. It does seem possible to make those sort of big swings or contrasts into emotional assets instead of emotional liabilities.

    I think you'll notice that one of the first points that Dr Gabor Mate makes in his presentation on "Stress and Disease" in the media section of this forum is that the teleomeres in the chromosomes of care givers for Alzheimer's patients shorten (i.e. age) twice as fast as for non-care givers in the general population. That is, unless they adopt some strategy for self-healing and self-rewarding that keeps their own well being at stage center. This is, of course, difficult for goodist and perfectionists, but must be accomplished for the sake of your own mental and physical health.
  20. JoelA

    JoelA Peer Supporter

    day #13.

    I'm trying to apply all advice given here, and some of them work better then others. Thank you all for the information and support.

    After an eager start and a noticeable progress with my hands/fingers I am now somewhat stuck. I DO feel a lot better. No doubt. But my foot is still as bad. I know its a journey, I do my best not to think of these things. But, I have covered the the major traumas from my past and from the present, and tried to address my "worst" personality traits. I HAVE managed to let go of things, which is a great relief itself. There are of course smaller things that I can still write about, but they don't stir up the same kind of emotions, of that I am certain. Its more like "I'm already aware of this"-feeling of the things I write. Anyways. Any suggestions on how to continue? Are there any strategies how to dig deeper in your unconscious mind?

    Waiting for Steve O's book to arrive. Will probably consume that book in the matter of days if the Amazon reviews are true. Hopefully that will be a re-boost of my confidence.

Share This Page