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TMS or real Tendonitis from weightlifting injury?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by dreissner, Aug 29, 2019.

  1. dreissner

    dreissner New Member

    If there was a PhD in being a TMS patient, I would have that PhD.

    I have a very long history with TMS, but because of my knowledge and thanks to the TMS community, I've been able to keep pain free for many years. I went through the whole nightmare rollercoaster of severely abusive childhood, total physical debilitation to the point of being unable to work (in my 20's), to a full recovery after therapy and applying Sarno's books.

    I had a few bumps over the years with shoulder pain and other TMS pains, all of which thankfully fully resolved:
    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/worried-about-shoulder-pain-and-my-tms-history.4501/#post-30134 (worried about shoulder pain and my TMS history)

    About a month ago I hit a new bump, and I'm not sure how much of it is a real injury, and how much of it is TMS.

    I'm very heavily into weightlifting and I love it, and have made great physical progress. Then I accidentally dropped a barbell weighing 100 lbs while re-racking it. My wrist got awkwardly bent back and I felt a major strain. But I kept working out that day because it didn't hurt terribly. The next day, it definitely felt like I had sprained my wrist though. Even slight twists of the wrist were excruciatingly painful. I went in to get an X-ray, which showed everything being normal. They called it a wrist sprain and said it would take 2-10 weeks to heal.

    One month later, I'm still struggling with this pain. I did notice that whenever I went into the doctor to talk about the injury or to schedule follow-up appointments, I felt much better, because I felt like I was doing something about the injury. I noticed how much my attitude affected the pain. Twisting my wrist a certain way still brings on the pain though. Pushing things up (with my palm facing up) makes my forearm feel extremely sore and very weak (best way I can describe it). Unless I make those specific movements, though, there is almost no pain.

    Still, the issue has completely prevented me from lifting weights, which has made me depressed and furious and angry at myself, because lifting weights was my #1 fun activity. I've been so frustrated that I go to the gym anyway and try to work through the pain, only to end up with more pain and frustration the subsequent day (but no more pain on the day of exercise).

    I've realized that the wrist injury has become the main thing I worry and obsess about in my life currently. It is totally distracting me from everything else.

    Today I saw a physical therapist for the first time. She seemed very competent and did some physical tests on my arm. She said that it was not a sprain (which would involve the ligaments that connect the bones) but actually inflammation of the tendon (which connects bones with muscles) and therefore tendonitis . She said that this tendonitis can take 6-9 months to heal. When she said tendonitis my TMS alarm bells went off. Sarno does talk about (direct quote below):

    "any sprain or strain involved should heal in a few weeks at the most. Symptoms persist because the brain has taken the opportunity of the minor accident to initiate TMS."

    I know that a broken leg (femur snapped in half) takes only 6-8 weeks to heal completely.

    Even though my history has made me a TMS expert (who successfully recovered from complete debilitation and indescribable pain and depression in the past), this new injury is making me unsure. How can I know how much is TMS and how much is a real tendon inflammation?
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  2. Miss Metta

    Miss Metta Peer Supporter

    I don't have an answer but keen to hear what others have to say. I have similar issues. Everytime I take up weight training, something happens to my body to put the kabosh on it. Beginning to think my mind is conspiring against me. The one thing that jumps out at me is your statement, "weightlifing is my #1 fun activity". Based on what I know about TMS and the TMS personality, I think your clue is in that statement. If it's the main 'fun' in your life, then you might be driving yourself mentally and have all your eggs in one 'fun' basket. That you say you feel angry and depressed sort of suggests to me that you do indeed put a lot of pressure on yourself to achieve in the gym.Also most people don't think of exercise as 'fun'. It's hard work. I agree with you it feels great after you've done it, and the pump and endorphins are awesome, and it's a great thing to do, but it doesn't really qualify as most people's idea of fun. When I think of fun, I think of more lighthearted activities. Do you have those in your life, too?

    I, too, notice a reduction in symptoms once a medical appointment is scheduled. However, you were given up to 10 weeks to heal. You're only into week 4. Tendons heal very slowly compared to other tissue, you know that. Think you maybe putting pressure on yourself to get better too quickly? Afraid of losing your gains? If so, too many eggs in the weightlifting basket, my friend. If it helps any, I'm going through a similar thing. I'm recovering from pneumonia and it's fatigued the heck out of me so that training through it is impossible.
    I hope you get some answers.
    Miss Metta
  3. JV63

    JV63 Peer Supporter

    I’ve been weight training my whole life and do has some injuries that show up on X-rays or MRIs so I do feel those are real and have to be careful. If yours all show as being negative there’s a very good chance that it’s just TMS messing with you again.

    If your wrist is structurally sound there is no reason it should hurt other than TMS IMO. You know the drill so you need to start letting your brain know you’re not falling for its tricks again. As mentioned, if you got cleared of any real injury and you even gave it a few weeks then how could your wrist be hurting. I’d say TMS, that’s how.
    Lizzy likes this.
  4. BigBlueWolf

    BigBlueWolf Peer Supporter

    I have been involved in weight training most of my adult life (over 50 now). Injury comes with the territory. You take it easy on that body part until you can use it effectively again. But in hindsight I now know that some injuries where pain doing "that movement" persisted for years had to be TMS. There's just no other explanation and "tendonitis" as you said is not a permanent condition.

    Even so, a month can be pretty fast to heal from an injury involving tissues like tendons. Go easy on yourself. Maybe dedicate a month to legs and core exercises. For upper body find machines that allow you to grip without putting your wrist in a position that aggravates it. Give it room and don't rush. Isn't that always what we weight trainers want to do? Rush getting over an injury?

    After that month, start working to introduce range of motion movement back. By degrees it should get better and not bother you any more. If it's not making any progress as you rehab it or gets worse, I'd strongly suspect TMS at that point.
  5. dreissner

    dreissner New Member

    Please help! There has been an ironic development for me.

    Thanks for all your insights. It has now been a number of weeks, and whatever the cause of my wrist sprain was (described above) -- maybe it was a combination of actual sprain and TMS -- it's now completely healed.

    I had continued to work out other parts of my body while waiting for the wrist sprain to go away. I'm a weightlifting fanatic, so I was overjoyed when I was finally back in the gym at 100% last week, lifting very heavy weights with my wrist. It felt great, no problems other than minor weakness since I hadn't used it in a while. I thought to myself, it's wonderful not to have any injuries. I remember thinking how I take being healthy for granted, unless I'm recovering from some annoying injury.

    I think you guys all know where this is going, and even I was surprised by the predictability.

    Towards the end of last week, after only 3-4 workouts where I could push myself 100% again with heavy weights, I started developing excruciating pain in my OTHER arm. To be clear, my previously injured (left) wrist is completely fine now. It is my RIGHT arm that has now developed classic tennis elbow. Even though I know about TMS symptom substitution, which Dr. Sarno calls the symptom imperative, I'm totally stuck with this pain. It is so excruciating that shaking people's hands with that arm has become very very painful. Picking up a glass of water causes me to clench my teeth from pain in my elbow. I know, logically, how odd that sounds, given that I'm a strong guy that has been lifting hundreds of pounds in the gym several times a week for years.

    Here is the structural tale that I'm telling myself: While I was waiting for my (left) wrist sprain to recover for several weeks, I continued to do pull-ups. The pull-up was the one exercise I could still do that didn't hurt too much, even with the injured wrist. But because the left wrist wasn't at 100%, my pull-ups were skewed and were using much more right-arm than left-arm strength, putting a ton of weight on my right arm. I always felt more soreness as a result in my right arm. (Then again, I've seen very strong people in the gym doing one-armed pull-ups, so what I was doing didn't seem really crazy.)

    I'm trying to apply the Sarno techniques to overcome this, with no success so far. I'm surprised by the viciousness of this symptom imperative. The pain is unbelievable, even worse than the wrist sprain. I cannot make a fist without insane pain. The pain is so bad it is impossible to work through it, I've already tried. One thing I'm noticing is that this tennis elbow pain feels "angry", pulsating. It's as if it's saying to me: "Just try me. Go ahead. I'm going to punish you. You won't get rid of me." When I think actively about it, the pain is amplified. (My headaches also work like this, but I'm able to think my way out of headaches now.) When I go about my day and am distracted, the pain is not there. But as soon as I shake someone's hand, or pick up an object, or use that arm in any way, it returns with a vengeance.

    Right before I got the tennis elbow, I could feel my body searching for a new symptom. At times I would have excruciating neck and upper back pain, so that I couldn't turn my head around. I had to move my whole body in order to look left/right. That is a well known stress symptom, and it disappeared once I zeroed in on it.

    Feeling quite frustrated. But as I've written this post, and poured my heart out, I can feel my tennis elbow reacting slightly. It's not a constant pain, it seems to ebb and flow somehow.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  6. BigBlueWolf

    BigBlueWolf Peer Supporter

    It's been about a month since you posted. Can you give us an update? I've not been participating on the forums for a little while. Sorry I missed your previous post.

    The continued problems suck, especially coming on right after a victory over your original problem. It sounds like you have a good cause for this new issue to also be TMS. Have you had any success with evaluating your emotional states during this time?

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