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TMS - Back after 20 years!

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Spagolli74, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. Spagolli74

    Spagolli74 New Member

    Back in 1996, I hurt my back while doing some heavy squats in the gym. The pain became chronic and gradually grew worse over the next three years. I tried everything... PT, massage, acupuncture, inversion, pain pills, you name it. Nothing worked. I was young and healthy and the docs couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I hit rock bottom and ran out of options. The pain, and more importantly, the fear of the pain, dominated my life. And then I found Dr. Sarno's book. I literally had chills as I read it. He described my personality to a T. Finally, a diagnosis that made sense. My pain was gone within a week.

    Sure, my back will be a bit sore from time to time if I strain it while exercising, but the pain goes away quickly and never becomes chronic. My body always heals itself, just like it's supposed to. I never figured out what was bothering me in the subconscious. I didn't need to. Just exposing my pain as a fraud created as a mental diversion did the trick. Dr. Sarno's book gave me my life back!!!

    As the years passed, I basically forgot about TMS. Fast forward to several months ago. My right knee has started to ache when I jog. I finally went to check it out and my x-rays were negative. The doc said my knee looks great and said I was probably just suffering from some tendonitis in my quadriceps tendon (right above my knee cap). I started to go to PT and it's not working. It's getting worse. And now my left knee hurts too!! I've been spending more and more time researching treatments, considering an MRI, watching PT videos on YouTube, etc. This morning, I woke up and immediately thought about my knees, even though they didn't hurt at the time. After a couple minutes thinking about them, they started to hurt.

    And then I've had my Deja Vu moment. I've been here before. But at least now, I know what it is and I know how to fix it. I just have to ignore it, quit all the excess therapy, stretching, etc., and resume my regular fitness schedule. The pain should be gone in no time.

    I guess I forgot that TMS is capable of bouncing around the body, so initially, TMS didn't cross my mind.

    I'm a little worried that I've had a recurrence. Consciously, I've been suffering from a lot of stress and anxiety at work. God knows what could be going on in my subconscious. It makes me wonder if I shouldn't try to get to the bottom of the problem and figure out what's going on in my subconscious.

    For my back pain, knowledge of TMS was enough to cure me. I'm hoping for the same result with my knee pain. I'll know in a week or so. Have any of you met with a qualified psychologist. Have any of you tried hypnotherapy? I know I need to work on my mind, not my body. I'm just not sure how to go about doing that. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a very positive and fact-based outlook, based on your experience. The rest of your post shows the doubts and fears that you may need to go deeper, but as you say, you'll soon know. I recognize how clean and direct this statement above is. Very focused.

    You may only need to add this piece to the above, and you've got something even more powerful. More evidence that it is TMS.

    I would not try efforting too much about this at this time. Just gently inquire. "What might my inner child be feeling about _______ experience right now that is stressful?' Many people are never aware of the inner feelings, but they know there must be "tension."

    I am saying these things because I don't think worrying that "there is a lot down there that must be discovered" is helping you right now. It is pressurizing. You've cured this once before, you can do it again. You may or may not have to "dig deeper."

    If you do, at the Wiki there is the TMS Recovery Program, and the Structured Education Program. I would embark on them as simply a learning experience, to explore yourself (not find the exact or perfect 'cause'). This activity of rooting out the causes is perfectionistic and pressurizing, in my opinion. The insights will come of their own, as needed for your growth. Just your willingness to investigate probably sends a positive signal to the TMS, that repression is less necessary.

    Hope this helps. Also, I did use hypnosis and it may have helped me. I think it especially helped the anxiety which had amped up over years of worrying about the pain and how to fix it. I had a disc custom made, and I'd listen every day for a month or so.

    Andy B
  3. Spagolli74

    Spagolli74 New Member

    Thank you for your response, Andy! I spent a lot of time yesterday re-educating myself about TMS and how it works. My head felt like it was exploding, in a good way. I learned that two of the biggest triggers can be repressed anger and/or fear.

    I run a small business and I'm sure other small business owners can empathize just how scary it can be at times. In general, business is great and emotionally rewarding but it's still scary. As a business owner, you can't afford to let fear rule your decisions. You have to take risks. You have to press on.

    Repressed fear? Check.

    A few months ago, I hit a bit of a rough patch and had to fire an employee - the first time I've ever had to do that. I was suffering from a ton of anxiety, readily apparent at a conscious level. Purely coincidental, I watched Katie Couric's documentary, "Fed Up." Soon after, I cut the vast majority of sugar out of my diet. I was surprised to see that my anxiety was greatly reduced. I attributed it to my improved diet, but in hindsight, I'm wondering if I just repressed the painful emotions of anxiety.

    Repressed anxiety? Check.

    Next up, anger. Several years ago, I got a divorce. I tend to place too much emphasis on financial success and I care entirely too much about outward appearances and what others think. I know this is bad and I'm trying to work on it. The divorce was relatively amicable, but I took a huge hit financially. I had been the "bread winner" by far and I guess I viewed all my money and assets as mine. After all, I was the one who stayed up working until 2 AM on a regular basis in order to succeed. So the process of splitting assets 50/50 felt extremely unfair to me. I literally had to give away money from accounts that I had saved years before I ever met my ex-wife - just because we were married for a few years. She never worked for or earned that money. I was all for helping her get back on her feet, but regardless it all just felt excessive and unfair. I've never been so angry in my entire life. I remember literally feeling my blood boil at times. The anger was so powerful and real that I developed so vascular issues and got medical treatment. Obviously, nobody can live with that much anger and resentment, so I "thought" I let it go. In reality, I just repressed it.

    So, repressed anger? Check.

    It's pretty obvious to me that I have the triple whammy of repressed fear, anxiety AND anger, as well as a healthy does of conscious stress.

    This morning was interesting. I woke up and the first thing I thought about was my knees. But my knees didn't hurt. My mind started to spin and then quads started to ache. It was almost how nervousness can make you start to sweat. I could literally feel it happening. WTF? It was TMS trying to jump around the body and hang on - almost like a desperate losing army in the last days of a war. I tried to remind me that my mind was just creating this pain and then something bizarre happened - I could feel my anxiety rising into my conscious. I began to worry about work. I began to feel angry about the divorce. I began to worry.

    The last time I beat TMS, I wasn't nearly as aware of what was actually going on. But this time, to be more aware and in tune with the condition, my body and my emotions is really a mind-opening experience - no pun intended. It's amazing just how powerful the mind can be!!!

    As for hypnotherapy...

    About 5 years ago, I had a slight remission with my back pain. It lasted about a week and usually it only takes me a couple days to get rid of the pain. So, I got a disc made by a hypnotherapist. Before I had a chance to listen to it, the pain vanished. As the pain was gone, the last thing I wanted to do was re-focus on it because that could make it come back. Now I just have to remember where I put that disc!! Who knows, maybe I'll kick this knee pain before I find the disc.
    Tassie Devil likes this.
  4. ashoo79

    ashoo79 New Member

    Wow what a beautiful thread I read this morning and I am so glad I did. I would say just keep it up you did it once you can do it again.
  5. Tassie Devil

    Tassie Devil Peer Supporter

    Your thread was a wake-up call for me and thank you for sharing it. You will overcome the knee pain as I know I will overcome my knee pain! Back to the journey :)
  6. Spagolli74

    Spagolli74 New Member

    It makes me really happy to hear my thread might be helping people! I'm glad I could share the success story I had with my previous back pain.

    As for my current "issue" with my knees...

    I just realized it was most likely TMS a couple days ago. Today, as part of resuming normal activities, I played basketball with my nephew. Full speed. Sprinting, cutting, jumping. I was nervous and fearful before I started playing but I felt totally fine. Even so, I was thinking about my knees (for no good reason) while I was playing. For me, fear of normal activities is one of the most difficult aspects of TMS. TMS makes certain body parts feel weak and achy and I tend to fear that I might actually injure myself if I'm not careful. Once I truly get over my fear, that's when I know I'm healed for good. Just like many fears in life, my fears of injury are totally unfounded. Just my brand of crazy, I guess.

    Come to think of it, even though I healed my back 20 years ago, I can still make it ache when I tell my TMS story to others. But as soon as I stop talking about it, the pain goes away. It truly amazes me just how strong the mind/body connection is.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  7. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    H, Spagolli. You are obviously a caring sensitive person and your divorce and other things make it clear to me why you are in pain. But you are bouncing back and that's the important thing to keep in mind now. I suggest you don't tell others about the stressful parts of your life that are past now. Live mor in the present moment, and I hope those moments are happier than those that have floated by long ago in the river under the bridge. And try to concentrate on sinking basketballs and not worrying about hurting yourself.
  8. Spagolli74

    Spagolli74 New Member

    Great advice, Walt. Thank you so much. I'm only now realizing how slowly this latest episode of TMS has snuck up on me. Looking back, my knees have bothered me on and off for years now. I would inflame them by jogging or doing a specific exercise at the gym. Then I would stop that specific activity and the pain would subside. First, I stopped squatting. Then jogging down hill. Then jogging in general. Then leg extensions. Then lunges. Then leg presses. Then I just quit training legs at the gym all together. I even stopped walking to work last summer. While quitting all of these activities one by one relieved any pain, the net result of quitting all these activities has resulted in a fear of exercise and more pain than when I was actually exercising!

    Because the onset of my leg pain was much more gradual, TMS really caught me by surprise. Whenever my back aches (not often), I immediately recognize it as TMS and it goes away. My mind must have realized that it had to trick me with a new body part. Because Sarno's first book focuses heavily on BACK pain, I never dreamed it would show up in my knees.

    During the course of my research over the past few days, I learned something fascinating. Apparently, TMS is more likely to recur in body parts that have previously been injured as it's more likely for you to believe that body part has a structural abnormality. My right knee was the first to show symptoms. Wouldn't you know it, I severely strained tendons in that knee while skiing when I was 8 years old. Recently, I've found myself thinking, "maybe it never healed correctly?" By believing there may be some sort of structural abnormality, it allowed the pain to seem plausible and TMS was really able to latch on. In hindsight, that's ridiculous. That injury occurred over 30 years ago! And I played all kinds of sports (pain free) during the course of those 30 years. If that injury never healed properly, there's NO way I would have been able to be so active without pain.

    I'm headed to the gym tonight to do something I haven't done in a long time - a legit leg workout. I'm going to remind myself that my knees are structurally sound and given the relatively light weights I'll be lifting, there's NOTHING I can do that's going to damage them. I full expect I'll be a little sore after the workout, but I've been lifting for 20 years now and certainly know the difference between good sore and bad sore.
  9. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Hi Spagnoli. I took had a TMS recurrence over 20 years after the first one, and recovered after reading Sarno. The second time around I worked the Structured Education Program, found on his wiki, and recovered quite quickly as a result. If you haven't visited the SEP, you may want to give it a try.
    Here's to recovery!
  10. Spagolli74

    Spagolli74 New Member

    Thanks so much for sharing, Gigi! I never knew there was an actual recovery program. I thought I just had to wing it. It certainly seems there are a lot more resources available now as opposed to 20 years ago. When your TMS came back after 20 years, how quickly were you able to realize it was TMS? Did it come back to the same area, or did it move to a different body part?
  11. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    Different body part. Took almost 2 years before I figured it out!!
  12. lexylucy

    lexylucy Well known member

    Wow it sounds like you've been pretty lucky. My symptom imperative came in right away. Sounds like calling a spade a spade is what helped you in the past. Sometimes calling a bluff is enough.

    Myself, I did Internal Family Systems therapy and that helped me find the parts of myself that weren't being heard and listened to. I also started a regular journaling practice.

    It sounds like you've had an enormous amount of change. Working the SEP and getting a therapist might give you a good support system. And help you explore yourself---hopefully without pain.

    It's a good reminder for me - I have had little to no pain over the past couple of months. My original lower back pain and hip pain has subsided somewhat and my new abdominal and gall bladder pain (symptom imperative) has faded away - with the help of posting and reaching out to others on the forum. But I empathize with you - as I become more able to catch my mind trying to distract me and create a diversion of pain - my true feelings are revealed. Insecurity, vulnerability, dissapointment, loss.. From a moment to moment basis -- these feelings are difficult to experience.

    What helps me these days is when I feel overcome with a feeling - I say - don't flood me - and I ask for some space - then I listen to the feeling with some separation from it. This allows me to be there for it. And I try not to judge my feelings...

    I don't know if this was helpful? Good luck on your journey ! We are there with you :)

  13. Spagolli74

    Spagolli74 New Member

    Thanks! I'm really hoping I can simply do what I did last time and cure my pain just by realizing that it's nothing more than TMS. But it's certainly helpful to realize that additional support systems are available if I need them.
  14. Marytabby

    Marytabby Peer Supporter

    I got over my back pain 11 years ago as well with TMS work and am now dealing with a 10 month TMS knee. Like you I have to keep on keeping on. Trust the process, and just really get on with living. I will admit I have been obsessed with this for 10 months. I think I have to stop that and just be compssionate with myself. Email me if you want. Mary
  15. Spagolli74

    Spagolli74 New Member

    Mary, it sounds like we are living parallel lives!

    Are you saying your knee has hurt for 10 months and you've only just realized it's likely TMS? Or are you saying that you've known it's TMS for 10 months and are still battling it. If it's the later, I'm guessing you're doubting the TMS diagnosis. Once you fully believe the TMS diagnosis, your pain should subside in a matter of weeks, or even days. You might want to have an MRI done to ensure their isn't anything MAJOR wrong with your knee. Assuming the MRI comes back mostly negative, then you can fully believe in the TSM diagnosis.

    I don't like to blame every ache and pain on TMS. After all, there are legitimate injuries that require medical treatment. Five years ago, I fell while I was skiing and hurt my shoulder. I tried 6 months of rest and rehab and it kept getting worse. I never once thought it might be TMS because this injury was different. It didn't ache all the time. I didn't think about it all the time. But I couldn't do any kind of physical activity without pain. I got an MRI and found I had torn my labrum, which required surgery. I had the surgery and after a 6-month recover period, my shoulder was better. Better then new, actually. If I had tried to fix this injury with TMS techniques, I'd likely still be having issues with my shoulder.

    Another case in point, my girlfriend tore her ACL 6 months ago. She had surgery and is recovering. No amount of TMS therapy is going to repair a torn ACL.

    I know it's TMS when one, the results of the testing are mostly negative and traditional doctors and therapists are stumped - they can't seem to figure out why I'm in pain. I also know it's TMS when I start to obsess over the injury to the point I become fearful and the injury causes me anxiety.

    On another note, I had a great leg workout last night. I did a ton of different exercises without fear. I know my knee is structurally sound and I shouldn't be afraid of a leg workout. I'm really sore today, but it's mostly a good sore. My knees are tight, but that's to be expected. Perfectly healthy people experience soreness and/or tightness in muscles and joints after a heavy workout. I know that in a few days time, I should feel great and ready for another workout. If, in three days time I feel worse then I know I have some emotional work to do.
  16. Marytabby

    Marytabby Peer Supporter

    I had an MRI which showed cartliage wearing. Knee doc diagnosis and my own doubts has kept this going for 10 months. I resolved today in my mind it's TMS and my visit to Angelov yesterday got me to accept.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  17. Spagolli74

    Spagolli74 New Member

    I'm not sure how old you are, but it's NORMAL to have worn cartilage as we age. My mom has it and she gets shots in her knees all the time. The shots help, but only temporarily. Then the pain returns. She's afraid to go on long walks, which is a sure indicator of TMS. But even given my previous success story, I can't get her to read Sarno's book. And when I talk about it, she thinks I'm crazy. Whatever. It's frustrating because I KNOW how to heal her and she won't listen.

    Anyway, sorry for the side track. Point is, it's NORMAL to have less cartilage as we get older. But if that caused dibiliating pain, then why don't all old people have knee pain? I see gray-haired people running marathons. As life-long joggers, they probably have less remaining cartilage than you do! Yet they are still running marathons! It certainly sounds to me like you don't have any major injuries to your knees and it's likely another bout with TMS.

    We beat it before. Now our minds can't play it's little game on our backs so it's found a new target - our knees. We'll beat it again.

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