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Upper Back Spasms

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by ripsboy, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. ripsboy

    ripsboy New Member

    Hello all...newbie here...I am very encouraged that I found this site. I am in my early 70's and
    I have been a health nut all my life and have the body of one much younger. I still weight train regularly, hike, fish, and do a lot of nature photography. For the most part I am very healthy...except for the fact that...

    I have had upper back tightness and debilitating back spasms the past 10 years and is progressively getting worse. My job required many hours at the computer and that is what I first attributed the pain to. I tried all of the stretching, heat & cold packs, and exercises with no permanent relief. Certain activities seem to trigger the spasms that at times are so intense, that the spasm pulls on my rib cage, to the point of fear of passing out. I have absolutely no problems when weight training. I've only been to a chiropractor who did a manipulation that gave some comfort for only a few months.

    After reading Dr. Sarno's book and half way through with The Great Pain Deception, I noticed a slight change of less tightness and discomfort. This past week I attempted to do some activities that normally would trigger the spasms. The tightness was still there but not as severe. I was really encouraged. Then today...I tried brushing down my pool and I experienced a severe spasm. It's only been two weeks since I read the book. Maybe I'm expecting too much too soon. I am somewhat of the T type personality and definitely a perfectionist...and have plenty in my past to harbor hidden anger. I believe I am a TMS candidate. I have two questions: 1. Has anyone else had upper back spasms that pull on the rib cage? 2. Could this be TMS? Thank you for reading this...:)
    Lily Rose likes this.
  2. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    welcome ripsboy,
    Spasms are pretty common in TMS. It can affect every muscle, so I see no reason why the thing you describe cannot be TMS. (just as I type this I feel a muscle fasciculating in my upper back :) )
  3. ripsboy

    ripsboy New Member

    Thank you for the reply Gigalos. I just haven't read any testimonials that describe the issues that plague me...especially the severe pulling on the rib cage when in spasm. It would be somewhat comforting to know someone that had the same symptoms and is now recovered.
  4. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Probably most of us have looked for our specific symptoms. As you could see by Steven Ozanich's book, TMS can make its appearance as many different symptoms. Even hospitals are now saying that most chronic pain issues are the product of emotions and stress. It seems like you've taken other approaches, so working on it as TMS is a great idea, I think.

    Take a look through Alan Gordon's program in the General Discussion forum. It's a great overview.

    Start writing down your fears. Sarno even said TMS can be a "rage" against aging. I know I have to consider that often and that it's true.
  5. ripsboy

    ripsboy New Member

    Thank you MW for your input. I have started journaling and have noticed other symptoms manifesting like allergies, mild vertigo, and over sleeping. I believe that I've stirred my dark side and it is responding. I will check out Alan Gordon's program...:)
  6. TheUndyingMind

    TheUndyingMind Peer Supporter

    Hi ripsboy - welcome, I'm new around here to and you're not alone. I'm 37, but have also been a weight lifter/health nut since I was 16.

    Over the past 2 1/2 yrs I've dealt with chronic back pain. It started as soreness/tightness in my mid-back on the right side as well as in my neck & upper trapezius. It also included tightness that felt like it was wrapping around my right ribcage and shortness of breath. Later it affected my calves in the form of pins & needles which led to great difficulty sleeping. Later still it went to my lower right back and I developed trigger points throughout the right side of my back. I became really concerned once the spasms in my neck & mid-back as well as pins & needles began to disrupt my sleep.

    Anyway, I've seen my family doctor numerous times, did physical therapy, chiropractor adjustments, dry needling, and massage therapy. They all helped to a degree, BUT the symptoms always came back. In addition to this I became conditioned to believe that weight lifting and cycling were contributing to my symptoms because that's when I always seemed to "feel" them more... Which makes sense because my body had just finished being stimulated from physical activity.

    Anyway, I remember remarking to my chiropractor on more than one occasion that I can physically do everything that I've always done but that if I do I know I'll pay for it over the next few days with heightened symptoms. He tried telling me there was nothing physically wrong with me and that my MRIs showed nothing concerning; just normal signs of aging. Of course I didn't believe him at the time!

    Since I've been reading The Great Pain Deception and going through the self-treatment exercises on here I've improved significantly. I've identified the specific event that occurred a couple of months before my symptoms occurred and realized that I never truly dealt with it on an emotional level. Since then I've also been unpacking many other events prior to that which I absolutely believe now in hindsight set me up for this kind of situation.

    So that all said, the best advice I can give is to continue reflecting about events in your past. Really examine events that you thought you got over but perhaps upon closer inspection you never really did. Hopefully, sooner than later, you'll have an epiphany and that will be your catalyst on the path of healing. Best of luck!
    Gigalos likes this.
  7. ripsboy

    ripsboy New Member

    Thanks for the input Undying Mind. Your symptoms were very similar to mine...the mid back spasms causing the tightening of the rib cage and shortness of breath. I am very happy that you are seeing improvement from The Great Pain Deception. I'm about 3/4 of the way through and this book is amazing. Of course I seen myself in the book on many pages. I also seem to be making progress. One of my triggers to the spasms has been when launching my boat to go fishing. I would tense up every time and I knew the spasm was coming. It would pull on my rib cage so severely that it would affect my eyesight and breathing...terrifying to say the least. After a few minutes the spasm would start to slowly release and all would return to normal. The funny thing is...I can weight train with heavy weights with no pains or spasms. If there was anything structurally wrong the weigh training would be impossible. That is another reason why I believe this is pure TMS.

    Today I launched my boat with very minimal tightness and no pulling of the rib cage. I tried to keep my mind on other things and off my back. I felt that this was a small victory in this big psychological war. Yes... I will keep searching through my past and see if I have missed any other traumatic events. I've already come up with several that I spoke to verbally and typed out on the computer. Wow...some were hard to look at... :( I am so thankful that I found this site to share commonalities with like minded folks. Keep up the good work...:)
  8. TheUndyingMind

    TheUndyingMind Peer Supporter

    Ripsboy - it sounds like you are making good progress. The fact that you've established when the symptoms start to set in is significant. Perhaps there's a significant event in your past related to boating or water that you've emotionally repressed. Keep exploring your inner-self, and I agree that writing really does help.

    My epiphany came not long after realizing that my symptoms would spike as I was driving into work in the mornings. After a lot of searching I was able to identify the trigger event at work that occurred 2-3 months prior to my symptoms that I never truly processed emotionally. It's still a struggle for me because I work in the same environment but I'm making progress.
  9. ripsboy

    ripsboy New Member

    Well...just had a huge setback. I had a upper back spasm from hell. My bro and I were fishing for about 5 hours in the mid day heat of Florida. I got so involved in the fishing, that I wasn't drinking any water. We were trolling in my boat when a large snook took my lure. This was no ordinary fish and I got very tense trying to fight him. Of course tension is one of the trigger points that puts my upper back into spasm. (happens most every time I hook a large fish) By the time I landed the fish, I was doubled over in severe pain. I also know that I was very dehydrated. (urine is a dark orange) The combination of the spasm, heat, and dehydration did me in big time. I couldn't move and began vomiting profusely. A near by boat seen that I was in trouble and came to assist. He pulled us back to the dock and wanted to call 911...I refused the 911 but had to lie there for a good hour before I was able to get on my feet. I've been in bed for two days trying to regain my strength.

    My question is...did the spasm trigger the reaction to the heat and dehydration. These spasms are a real concern for me. Here are the triggers that set it off:
    1. Extreme tension 2. Riding a bike 3. Walking too fast 4. Going up stairs too fast. However, I can lifts weights all day long with no trouble???
  10. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Ripsboy, if that had happened to me I would have gone to the hospital for sure; dehydration (heat stroke!!) is pretty serious stuff. I recently watched a short documentary about MMA fighters cutting weight and doctors explained why they thought it to be more dangerous than the fights. I don't want to scare you, but why not check in with or call a doc just to make sure everything is fine right now. And you probably lost a lot of salts that need to be replaced, a bag of fluid might help you regain normal levels in a matter of hours.
    By the way, heat stroke in itself will provoke spasms.
    take care man
  11. TheUndyingMind

    TheUndyingMind Peer Supporter

    Ripsboy - sorry to hear about your setback. Have you ever had an MRI done on that area of your back? It might not be a bad idea to confirm there's nothing serious there. Even with TMS you can still be physically injured in some way. For example, you could have strained your back. A mild strain shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks to heal if properly cared for. Only after normal healing time from a physical injury if you still have pain should you continue TMS healing techniques. I'm just saying, it doesn't hurt to still get a proper physical screening to ensure it really is just your mind playing tricks on you with regards to the pain.
  12. ripsboy

    ripsboy New Member

    This is Ripsboy's daughter. I came across this thread and read these posts with much sadness. My Dad actually ended up going to the Emergency Room on the evening of August 22nd. We were able to find out that the back spasms he described were actually multiple heart attacks. Three of his arteries were completely blocked and one valve was not functioning. The doctors informed us that he needed a triple heart bypass but he also had an infection in his lungs that needed to clear up first before focusing on his heart.
    Unfortunately, my Dad suddenly passed away on August 23rd.
    It saddened me greatly to read my Dad's posts of these so called "back spasms". He never told me this was happening to him at this extent. I just WISH that he had gone to a doctor earlier. This whole thing could have been avoided and he would still be here with us today. He was very healthy otherwise and if he would have only known it was his heart, he could have been treated, surgery, etc and still had many great years with us.

    I just wanted to let you all know, who responded to his questions. Thank you to Gigalos, who said you would have gone to the hospital. Maybe your post is what made him finally go to the Emergency Room that evening.

    I understand you all and my Dad were reading this book about Pain Deception and healing yourself with your mind but sometimes, there is really something wrong. If my Dad had just gone to a doctor much sooner, I'd still have my Dad and my children would still have their Papa.

    Tiffany M.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  13. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family, Nancy
  14. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh wow, my sincere condolences Tiffany to your whole family, I am so sorry to hear this.

    I don't lie if I say that it didn't feel good after I read his last message and then nothing, there were several moments that I thought about it.

    I just don't know what to say...
  15. TheUndyingMind

    TheUndyingMind Peer Supporter

    Tiffany, I'm so so sorry to hear about your dad :-(

    I've been thinking of going back to my doctor for additional follow up about my issues for a while. The sad news about your father has me 100% convinced that I should do so and I will be scheduling an appointment on Monday.

    I hope that you and your family are able to find comfort among friends and each other during this difficult time. Stay strong. I will keep you in my thoughts.
    Gigalos likes this.
  16. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Tiffany, my heart breaks for you and for everyone who must have loved your father. In reading his posts just now, I can tell that he was a special soul. Thank you for letting us know what happened, and for your gentle reminder.

    In sadness,

    ~ Jan
    Gigalos and TheUndyingMind like this.
  17. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle


    I am so sorry to read of your heart-breaking loss. You and your precious family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Thank You for your courage in coming here to tell us the outcome and for reminding people not to be cavalier about their health. Such gentle kindness in tragic circumstance demonstrates an immensely compassionate heart.

    God Bless.
  18. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Tiffany, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking the time to let us know about it. As Plum said, thank you for your courage. Your father looks like a he had a wonderful smile.

    My own brother died last year leaving two young boys, one of whom is my godson, so I can begin to feel your your loss. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
    Lou and Gigalos like this.

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