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TMS experts advice wanted... complicated problem: back pain/scoliosis

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by YF_86, Sep 29, 2022.

  1. YF_86

    YF_86 New Member


    I've posted here in the past, but got little response. That's why I'm making another attempt because I'm at my wits' end...

    I am a 36 year old male with daily back pain, for as long as I can remember I have been in pain. Something is seriously structurally wrong because I have scoliosis... 36 degrees. But I believe I have TMS because the pain I feel is on the lower right side of my back and is clearly muscle related.

    I've been doing exercises daily for years but nothing helps... I've done a lot of exercises to retrain my muscles and regain balance, but it always stays at the same level. as soon as I stand up I have pain (walking too but that's doable)... sitting and lying down is okay.

    I've been trying to shift focus for about 3 months and try to accept that the problem is not caused by my structural problem... however, there is no manual and I am taking few steps forward.

    My biggest problem is the following: because of the scoliosis I am also really crooked... my one shoulders are lower than the other and because of the pelvic shift you can see an unevenness at the height of my waist. And that is exactly what I have so much trouble with... I have a permanent job, I function fully in this society; but is constantly thinking: oh no i'm crooked and i hope no one sees it... i hate it when someone walks behind me, try to walk short distances in the workplace,... anything to avoid someone it would be...

    My questions:

    - how can I start the TMS approach if I am very sad about the way I look, and am afraid that someone would see it... (in other words: I can't just put it aside or ignore it).

    - what are your tips?

    - can my scoliosis and enormous muscle tension be reduced by the tms approach?

    - and important question: I read here on the forum that doing exercises can be harmful... because then you continue to believe / and feed the idea that my structural causes are caused. The exercises I do are somatic movement (very gentle somatic exercises to reduce muscle tension). I've been doing this for a little over a year (daily) but I don't see any improvement/change yet... quitting is somehow difficult for me because then I hinder my possible progress or do nothing about it myself... what do you think?

    I hope for nice feedback.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hello @YF_86. Sorry that you don't feel you've received much help. Part of the problem might be too much technical detail about your symptoms, whereas the forum is devoted, as I'm sure you understand, to overcoming symptoms with mindbody techniques - which means that the symptoms themselves don't matter. OR, if they do, we are not qualified to give opinions about them! I'm a retired tax accountant, for example. I can speak professionally about the Internal Revenue Code and about how we need to blame Congress for our tax laws, not the IRS - but I can't give advice about body mechanics! :D

    However, given your Dx of scoliosis, I can definitely steer you to one of our favorite TMS luminaries, Nicole Sachs, LCSW, because this is her story. Along with other symptoms, childhood history, journey with (literally with) Dr Sarno, life setbacks, and her growing body of work and resources. You can start with her book, The Meaning of Truth, or with her podcast - she tells her story in detail in the early episodes, so you need to start in 2018, and just keep going. She has a website with a lot of information (thecureforchronicpain.com)

    For great information from a back surgeon who left his career to focus on his successful pre-surgery mindbody program, check out Back In Control by David Hansom, MD (his website is backincontrol.com).

    I am also happy to provide a response for a couple of your questions:
    My common response to questions/statements like this is: THIS is your brain on TMS! It is keeping you nicely stuck in fear, but you do not have to fall for this bullshit, so why not start the TMS approach and see what happens? If you do the SEP or Alan's program, it's free. You have nothing to lose, since the programs are not physically invasive, and if do the work with true commitment and what I call "brutal" self-honesty, you will be able to look back at this question with compassion and maybe even amusement. You do not need to be 100% on board to get started.

    Do the emotional work. Just reading and asking questions here is not enough!

    Good luck,

  3. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Well known member

    I think healing is individual.
    I tried many things, and for me combining tms work and doing physical therapy is what is working for me. Dr. Hanscom’s book talks about doing what you need to do to heal, but it all has to be approached from a tms mindset.

    My muscle tension has reduced dramatically by realizing that my physical patterns in life mimic my emotional patterns. Freeing my mind is slowly freeing my body. The SEP program really helped me recognize this.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  4. YF_86

    YF_86 New Member


    thanks for the responses, I really appreciate it.

    I think I have a good idea about how TMS works, and what the steps to take are... Only the following is difficult for me:

    I can't let go of the following:

    - when I stand in front of the mirror, I turn with my back to the mirror and look (daily)

    - I can't take the control off my back, I keep thinking hey how do I look now... hope no one sees.

    This makes it difficult for me to start TMS...I keep falling into this obsession.
  5. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Would it help to know that this, or any type of obsessive behavior which keeps you stuck, IS your brain on TMS? Just repeating myself, which we have to do here often.

    It's ultimately up to you whether or not to let your primitive fearful brain control you. You can do this, if you have faith in your own strength, and enough self-compassion and love for yourself that you believe you deserve to recover.
  6. YF_86

    YF_86 New Member

    thank you for the assistance Jan and Cactusflower!

    I'm trying to take steps, and I know it's TMS that makes my brain doubt and fool me. But the hardest part is that some things are an established fact...

    I just walk a bit crooked and when I stand still you can see with a small observation that there is a deviation at the height of my pelvis and that my back is not in line. And this is hard to deal with in a perfect world and a hard business. I try to cover it up by putting on a pullover or a cardigan... The problem is clearly visible in a shirt or T-shirt.

    Here I will need to get some more insight on how to change this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    That is a "Yes, but...." answer, which will get you nowhere. It's the classic answer of someone who is obsessed, and also the classic answer of someone who is stuck in victimhood.
    You need to work on the obsession and the victimhood. Starting with who taught you that this is such a problem? Your family, perhaps?

    Look, you're the only person in your fully-functioning life who cares about your scoliosis. You are obviously intelligent and you already understand TMS theory, and you already know that the scoliosis has nothing to do with your pain. That's a GREAT start, okay? So first of all, will you give yourself some credit for that?

    If you're struggling socially, that's because victims are not very enjoyable to be around. Sadly, they are self-absorbed in their victimhood, obsessing about it instead of paying attention to other individuals and being emotionally open for others. This can be addressed in therapy. It looks like OCD or social anxiety, but since I'm a tax accountant, I'm only guessing, of course - I can't diagnose.

    You ask "How can I start the TMS approach...?" The answer is that you just start it. You said in your first post that there is no manual - yes there is - we have the Structured Educational Program - no cost, no sign-up. Just do it. But you have to do it with honesty and commitment. You must be particularly honest about your family and your childhood. The work is completely private, no one needs to know what you work on, and you do not need to keep any of the writing exercises once you've done them with commitment.

    I also recommended that you learn about Nicole Sachs and I still recommend that - I gave you info about her in my first response.

    My final recommendation is a bit tough - it's tough love, in fact. Do not post anything on our forum again about your scoliosis. When referring to the probable reason for your TMS symptoms, just call it social anxiety - two words only, without any details, because that's what it looks like to me, and for what we do here, it's good enough. And in describing your back pain, just say "back pain" - no details are necessary.

    I also recommend that you do not post any more questions until you are well into the SEP, and until you have listened to several of Nicole's beginning podcast episodes. Most beginner questions are answered early on. The SEP invites you to comment on how you feel after doing each "day", so feel free to do that, because we want to hear about your progress.

    Good luck,

  8. YF_86

    YF_86 New Member

    Thank you Jan for your good advice.

    By the way, I saw the youtube videos of Nicole Sachs at the beginning of October. Before that I had also read 2 books about pain related to TMS and read the educational program of Alan gordon.

    you give me new insights that are very useful. I will only talk about social anxiety in my follow-up post :)

    I would like to go all the way and try to do something about the victim role... I use all the tips and I am very motivated.

    You will be hearing from me :)

    JanAtheCPA likes this.

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