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The pain comes back

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by BasketballJoe, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. BasketballJoe

    BasketballJoe Newcomer

    I’m dealing with day 2 of a low back spasm, and I’m interested in any reminders or tips on how to get my muscles to relax and stop spasming. Yesterday I played pick up basketball pain free until the very end when I bent down and felt some pain and the my low back went into spasm. I’ve been icing and using Advil and today it’s a bit better.

    6 years ago this happened A LOT! It caused me to miss work I would be flat on my back in pain and have to basically crawl into see my doctor to get prescription painkillers. I did physical therapy but it just kept coming back. I was so desperate that my doctor finally sent me to get spinal injections but that didn’t curate either. Finally after the second or third recommendation from my uncle I read Dr. Sarno‘s book and it was like it was speaking to me.

    I was in my early 30s, the breadwinner, two young kids and a pretty stressful job. I was working super hard and doing well but not finding enough time for myself, my hobbies like exercise and also finding enough family time. The book made so much sense especially thinking about all the different x-rays I’ve looked out with the doctor and even how they sometimes said this bulge here could be nothing or this could be the cause of your pain and then I’d feel justified, like yeah that’s why I feel pain, this is all real.

    Once I started reflecting and acknowledging my stressful job and thinking about things that I could change and really just focusing on relaxing my muscles and not tensing up so much I started to get immediately better. It probably took two weeks and I had to read the book a couple times but once the words sunk in my life really improved. I eventually got a much less stressful job and life has been really really good for the past six years. Almost pain-free.

    There’s always this lingering pain in my right side of my lower back. I do yoga which includes meditation and all of that seems to help and it’s not even noticeable for long stretches of time. But sometimes it creeps in and I have to really focus so that I cannot let it flareup into anything.

    But for whatever reason the last couple of times I have played pick up basketball it has ended with pain as in a low back muscle spasm that has me walking around like an elderly person and wanting to sit down or lay flat on my back. And this time it’s pretty annoying because it is affecting a long weekend and time with my family. What’s weird is that the pain doesn’t start from any sort of contact or fall or anything. Once I bent down to pick up a jersey from a bag and the other time I was just kind of lightly jogging and stopped and bent over and the pain started.

    If I need to stop playing basketball in order to be pain-free I am completely fine with that. It will be a bummer because I like the guys in the community but I have other activities I really love to do especially being able to bike and ski and hike with my family. Yesterday’s episode did happen to occur while my inlaws were staying with us which added a ton of stress b/c my wife’s step mom is pretty unstable and they told us they were getting divorced but then showed up to stay for the night like no big deal. I have pretty successfully been able to not get involved in this drama and don’t feel like it is consciously affecting me or making me feel stressed out because it’s not really my problem but I certainly am open to this being a factor.

    For now I am trying to remember back to the important points of the book and take ibuprofen and stretch and try to get the spasms to stop. Ice really seemed to feel good last night. Any other recommendations let me know!
    Free of Fear likes this.
  2. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi BaskeballJoe.

    Welcome to the forum :).
    ...The emphasis being on it not 'consciously' affecting you - I wager though that subconsciously it is/was affecting you as your inlaws' problems must have at least caused a change of atmosphere when you were probably expecting/hoping for a nice, pleasant and relaxing weekend with your wife and children. My suggestion would be to journal about this with no holds barred and you might be surprised at what comes up. There are lots of methods of journaling, but I think that 'unsent letters' and/or 'dialogue' journaling and/or 'stream of consciousness' journaling could be the most effective for you, but you can experiment...More about different methods of journaling can be read on this thread http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/what-style-of-journaling-has-taught-you-the-most-about-yourself.107/#post-101851 (What style of journaling has taught you the most about yourself?)

    Dr Sarno said that TMS symptoms are caused by the brain causing mild oxygen deprivation to the muscles and other tissues. This has been expanded upon more fully by Dr James Alexander in his book 'The Hidden Psychology of Pain: The Use of Understanding to Heal Chronic Pain' https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Psych...452506809/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8. Although using ice/cold packs could be deemed as not being good because it might stop you thinking about your symptoms as being 'psychological' - personally, I don't see a problem with it as it 'challenges' the TMS because it brings oxygen to the muscles...especially if you alternate between cold and warm packs as it dilates the blood vessels.

    I would also suggest that you consider keeping on reading and reinforcing your acceptance that the muscle spasming/pain is TMS and therefore 'psychological' in origin. In addition to Dr Sarno's books, I'd recommend these books (in no particular order):

    Dr James Alexander's book (as detailed above).

    'Back in Control: A Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain' by Dr David Hanscom https://www.amazon.com/Back-Control...e=UTF8&qid=1535900978&sr=1-1&keywords=hanscom

    'Constructive Wallowing' by Tina Gilbertson https://www.amazon.com/Constructive...UTF8&qid=1535901162&sr=1-1&keywords=wallowing

    I don't think that you will have to stop playing basketball - You might need to temporarily stop playing pick up basketball while you take some time to do some mind/body work (e.g. reading more books about TMS and journaling) but once the muscle spasm has eased and released its grip (from my own experience muscle spasms can temporarily set the muscles like concrete) perhaps consider gradually reintroducing basketball, at first just relaxing and messing about shooting some hoops (but only if you'd enjoy doing that) and doing other physical activities too...This should still be enough to tell your brain that you mean business, that you know what it's doing - and you're not going to give in to it!

    I feel kind of awkward giving other people advice as I'm a relative newbie myself, not as yet cured from my own TMS symptoms; however, by doing the things that I've suggested above, I am seeing signs of change - both physically and mentally.

    I hope something I've said will be of help to you - Good luck and all the best on your healing journey.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
    Purist and Free of Fear like this.
  3. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    The biggest thing I'm hearing from your story is that you have a GOOD back. You got yourself out of that hole many years ago, and have gone long stretches without pain, so there's no reason for this situation to go any differently.

    Keep it up, you rock!
    BloodMoon likes this.
  4. BasketballJoe

    BasketballJoe Newcomer

    Man such helpful responses thanks! I’m definitely going to give journaling a try. The concept of telling my brain I know what is going on and I am not going to accept it provided some immediate results. Sometimes I need things broken down super literally, and previously I was just trying to relax and be calm and be more passive about it but taking control seems to be helping.
    Free of Fear and BloodMoon like this.
  5. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Joe,

    Welcome to the forums. Have you tried the Structured Educational Program? That is a great way to start, with journaling prompts along the way and things to read. Glad to hear you had some good results with just talking yourself down. Also know that muscle spasms, even though TMS, can take a few days to die down regardless, that is normal. I've been "cured" of my TMS for a couple of years but still get small bouts of it. When something flares up it doesn't go away immediately, it can take a couple days or even weeks depending on what it is. The brain takes some time to make those changes. Staying relaxed and in touch with your mind and body is definitely key to getting over it.

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