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worried about shoulder pain and my TMS history

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by dreissner, May 3, 2014.

  1. dreissner

    dreissner New Member

    I'm a long-time student of TMS pain and very familiar with the subject. I've had three episodes of different types of TMS:

    From 2001-2007 I was suffering from excruciating pain in my hands, especially while typing on the computer. My hands and arms felt like they were on fire, burning with pain, and I also experienced a lot of numbness. It made my life hell, since I couldn't do my work. All of my waking hours were focused on the pain. Even at night, I was sleeping with arm braces, scared to injure my hands from lying "wrong" on them. During this time I went from doctor to doctor, and everyone I saw told me it was something else. The neurosurgeon told me it was arthritis, the spine surgeon and chiropractor told me there was a "subluxation" in my spine, and the hand surgeon told me it was carpal tunnel syndrome. I was convinced I had carpal tunnel syndrome. When a friend recommended Dr. Sarno's book, I instantly saw myself described in the book. I am the "Type T" personality that Dr. Sarno talks about. I saw the connection between the huge stresses in my life and the pain. The more I made these connections, the more the pain lessened, until it disappeared completely.

    In 2010, during another stressful period, I suddenly began having knee pain. It started during a vacation that was extremely stressful (for positive reasons -- it was a lot more social activity than I was used to), and it meant that I had to spend a lot of time alone in the hotel room icing my knee. It was perfect. Only in hindsight did I see that the knee pain was serving a purpose. After the vacation, I continued to limp around for another six months. The pain was not going away. When I finally went to my family doctor, she said that it's a very common symptom, and that the cause is not really understood well, and that there is no effective treatment other than rest and icing. At that moment something clicked. This sounded just like all the other TMS symptoms: Mysterious origin, no known cause or cure. Only at that moment did I recognize it as TMS. I am not making this up: As I walked down the stairs from the doctor's office, I noticed that my knee pain was gone. Usually walking down stairs was the most painful movement for my knees. I was amazed. The knee pain came back for a few days a year later, but as soon as I made the connection to emotional stress it was gone again.

    There was another TMS experience in 2010: After a very stressful event, I suddenly developed severe cramping pain in my testicles. Fearing something very serious (I immediately thought testicular cancer) I went to the hospital and had an ultrasound scan done. The diagnosis was "epididymitis", a very common pain symptom. It fit the TMS pattern: Epididymitis has no known cause, no known cure. The doctor told me that he himself once had epididymitis during a stressful time in college, and eventually it just disappeared. When he said that it clicked again in my head: I went home and looked up epididymitis in the index of Dr. Sarno's book. I couldn't believe it, but there it was: It was listed as one of the TMS symptoms. When I saw it in the book, I actually broke down and cried. I couldn't believe it, and at the same time, I knew it made sense. As I was crying out of relief, the pain disappeared within minutes. That pain has never come back.

    Fast forward to 2013: I'm doing great, but my life is in transition for completely normal (and very positive!) reasons. In the summer of 2013, after having started a very heavy workout program in the gym, I suddenly develop excruciating pain in my right shoulder. It hurts to move my arm, especially in the over-head position. Push-ups, which I had recently started doing a lot of, were the most painful. I went to the doctor and had an MRI done. The diagnosis on the MRI was vague and included a lot of related conditions: rotator cuff tendinosis (tendinosis is a "chronic" form of the better-known tendonitis), mild thickening of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons (but no tear), bursitis. The MRI also mentioned the words "subacromial impingement syndrome". [When I looked this up, it said that the cause of subacromial impingement syndrome is not entirely clear, and that surgery is only sometimes effective, and about as effective as just doing physical therapy. Even though this screams TMS to me now, it didn't click with me at the time.] After getting this diagnosis I was horrified. I felt very depressed and was convinced I would eventually need surgery.

    The doctor said it was too early for surgery and he recommended rest, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and physical therapy. I went to physical therapy from October 2013 until April 2013. The shoulder pain only improved very slightly. It was still painful to do anything with my arm. During this time I had also been entering a new phase in my life, and the shoulder pain meant that I could not really participate in those new things. Over this last year I spent a lot of time researching shoulder injuries, staying at home and nursing my shoulder with various rehabilitation exercises and icing. I was visiting shoulder specialists, and was considering surgery. I had to be careful: I read that the subacromial impingement syndrome can get worse over time and can turn into a rotator cuff tear, or "frozen shoulder". All of this was occupying my mind 24/7, to the point that I could not do anything else. When I was talking to people, I wasn't really there, I was just thinking about my shoulder pain. Every time I raised my arm to flip on a lightswitch, my shoulder flared up. Everytime I shook someone's hand my shoulder flared up. Opening the car door hurt. Closing the car door hurt. My waking hours were dominated by the pain and the injury. Every time I thought about having fun, or meeting people, I always had an excuse for why I couldn't: I had to stay home and research shoulder injuries online, and do hours of rehabilitation exercises every day. The only thing that made it better was getting a massage on my shoulder, and taking a very hot shower. That provided temporary relief. Another thing I had noticed was that on rare days when the shoulder pain was gone, I would have splitting headaches instead. (Those details also scream TMS to me now.)

    One week ago I looked up "shoulder" in Dr. Sarno's book "The Mindbody Prescription". For some reason I didn't remember it mentioning shoulders at all, but in the book Dr. Sarno clearly states that he considers shoulder pain to be just another TMS symptom. In fact he specifically mentions rotator cuff problems, and he says that most tendon pain, in fact, is due to TMS. His other book, "The Divided Mind", has even more mentions of shoulder pain, and also includes all the terms that were on my MRI: bursitis, impingement syndrome, tendonitis. He even says that rotator cuff tears (which I don't even have) are a part of the aging process, and are usually asymptomatic.

    Suddenly I felt like a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders, literally. I made the connection. The shoulder pain, while extremely frustrating, had been serving an important purpose: It was keeping me emotionally closed off from the world.

    The day after reading about shoulder pain in Dr. Sarno's book ", I woke up for the first time without any pain. I had been waking up with a very stiff and painful shoulder every morning, but the day after reading the book: no pain! Over the next few days the pain continued to lessen. Raising my arm didn't hurt. Opening and closing doors: no pain. Shaking hands: no pain. (I did notice feeling more nervous, as there was now nothing for me to "hide" behind). A few days later there was only a tiny amount of pain left. I was not thinking about the shoulder pain at all! All of this happened over the course of last week.

    The reason I'm concerned now is that after doing push-ups again the last couple of days (the exercise that was the most painful right after the shoulder injury happened), my shoulder feels like it has flared up again. I keep thinking to myself: If the pain went away so dramatically just after reading the Dr. Sarno book, then it must be TMS. My shoulder pain had never decreased like that before. But now, after doing the exercise that I originally believed caused the injury in the first place, and the shoulder flaring up again, doubts are setting in.

    I would appreciate any comments, especially if you've had any similar experiences.

    P.S.: It took me about an hour to write this post. After I finished writing it I noticed that my shoulder actually felt much relieved. However, I also developed a headache, which I did not have when I started writing this post.
    Last edited: May 4, 2014
  2. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Amazing post :)
    I think you have realized from writing everything down that it must be TMS. You are conditioned to get pain from doing pushups, so voila. I think it would be wise to do mild exercises if it give much pain afterwards. Too much pain can make you too stressed about it. You have seen a lot of TMS symptoms, so try to become convinced that it will dissappear again in time and that you will be able to go back to your heavy exercising that you seem to like so much.
    take care
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  3. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    What wonderful insight you've had! Just keep reinforcing the message that there's nothing organically wrong. Have you worked your way through the Structured Program (SEP?) It might be helpful for you.

    I've been symptom-free for about a year, but suddenly started having TMS symptoms again. I'm thinking it's an anniversary type of thing. I just need to keep on doing what I know works.

    Blessings on your journey!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson and Ellen like this.
  4. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    I can relate a lot to your post. I am recovering from a shoulder pain also. I was injured in 2012 during a swim session and have had pain ever since. I am continuing to improve and the pain goes away and comes back. I can't write too much now, but you're not alone. Keep working on gaining confidence in the TMS diagnosis for your pain.

    I did a triathlon yesterday and my shoulder held up very well. :)
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think new TMS pain can come to us anytime. Something new may trigger another or an old repressed emotion.
    Lucky us, we know how to deal with it.
  6. dreissner

    dreissner New Member

    I wanted to update everyone on the shoulder pain. It started in July of 2013, and honestly I did not make much progress until May of this year, despite physical therapy and rest.

    But after writing this post a few weeks ago, my pain has dramatically subsided. I would say it's 99% gone. I never, ever think about it anymore at all. Even when doing a few push-ups at the gym, there is almost no pain at all the day after, just a very slight discomfort but that disappears in a few days as well. I have zero pain now opening and closing car doors, reaching for a book, or raising my arms overhead. That used to be so excruciating before. I'm really thankful that this whole thing has resolved, because it was really putting my life on hold for almost a year. And when I think back, that was its whole point! I was scared by what was happening in my life (mostly good things), and this took me away from that.

    Since resolving the shoulder pain completely, I have noticed more sensitivity in one of my teeth. One of my molars has a lot of gum recession on the inside (the backside of the tooth). I'm now noticing myself obsess over this. The tooth is definitely more sensitive and unfortunately gum recession is not a TMS symptom. Nothing can bring the recessed gum back. So I'll see what happens here.. it is definitely annoying.

    Thanks for your input guys!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson and Enrique like this.
  7. tmsandrew

    tmsandrew Peer Supporter

    Thanks so much for your post - it is a great story. I am currently trying to overcome knee pain which has started over the past 2 months - like you I have a history of TMS symptoms so I am coming round to the notion that this is TMS again trying to manifest itself. I guess maybe I had been overconfident that I had beaten it - perhaps it is always lurking, waiting for a new outlet to express itself!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  8. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    I'm really glad that you posted your situation here because I was having a hard time making progress with my shoulder pain. The pain was literally stuck. Since reading your story, my own shoulder pain has subsided significantly. Your personal story gave me the spark to believe more that my pain was TMS. I admit that I had my doubts and not having a TMS doc, I found it hard to believe it wasn't a real injury. This was the first time that I had TMS manifest as pain in my shoulder. It took me off of swimming for a long time. Thankfully, It's almost completely gone and I believe that it will resolve on it's own. The more I've been exercising it, the less it's been hurting. Thanks again for sharing your story... the power of sharing a success story is so huge!
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Enrique, Steve Ozanich recommends just what you're doing for your shoulder pain... keep exercising it and it hurts less.
    He write about his experience in that in his book, The Great Pain Deception. And the less you think about the pain, the better.
    Bodhigirl and Enrique like this.
  10. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    Thanks for that reminder.
  11. PaulBlack

    PaulBlack Peer Supporter

    Hey Dreissner, it sounds like I could replace your name, with mine, in that post and at times thru some stressful periods, I feel your pain and your recovery.
    Thanks for reminding me, it is my emotional battle field...!

    cindi f. likes this.
  12. dreissner

    dreissner New Member

    Enrique, I'm glad that you found my post so useful. It's really kind of hard to believe for me, because when I wrote my first post in this thread, at the beginning of May, I had been struggling with the shoulder pain for almost one year. 9 months of physical therapy made very little difference. I can report now, in late June, that the shoulder pain really has completely subsided. I never think about it at all.

    And wouldn't you know it, something new has popped up that is consuming all of my attention. I wrote about this in a follow-up post:

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  13. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    Hmm... interesting you say that. My shoulder pain has completely gone as well and this weekend all of a sudden, my back pain flared up. Fortunately it only lasted about 2 days and today it feels much better. I just refused to believe it was anything physically wrong. I did absolutely nothing to cause that pain.
  14. dreissner

    dreissner New Member

    Really? That's amazing that your shoulder pain ALSO disappeared after becoming aware of the TMS connection. Even though you wrote earlier that you had had it since 2012. Great to hear! When I initially read Sarno's book, it was so long ago that I only remembered back pain as the major symptom. But when I re-read it two months ago, I saw that he mentions shoulder pain almost as much as back pain. In fact, he says that shoulder pain has become a much more frequent and popular diagnosis only recently.
  15. dreissner

    dreissner New Member

  16. divetorecover

    divetorecover Newcomer

    OH MY GOD THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!

    specially made an account to say thanks for your post...

    im a musician and have shoulder pain over 7 months (deep in shoulderjoint) especially from playing guitar, i live in europe so there is really lack of information about mind body connection and health problems...ive had so called tms sympthoms before CTS, pain itchy feeling inside my bladder i gues, pelvic pain, back pain..but i freaked the hell out about my shoulder, thought i would need a surgery and its really really expensive, and it was stressful year for me especilly if you cannot play the guitar and earn money... :(((((..there was a physyotherapist who is sort of spiritual (cigun, yoga, vegan, martial arts...) dude, who told me there is a big tension in my body, and told me everyting seems to normal about my health problems.......

    now all finally comes together......
  17. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    specially logged in to my account to reply to your post :)

    That's wonderful. I remember how I felt when things finally fell into place for me. Good for you!
  18. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    I'm having exactly the same symptoms of painful shoulder - sometimes - for the past three months - after a strenuous few workouts that included rapid pushups, which are not my strong suit!
    This pain arrived about six weeks after a very real concussion, getting thrown off my horse and sustaining a moderate concussion. I think the anger and fear that have emerged since then would rather take up residency in my shoulder than be felt. It's some really big and scary feelings that come after a TBI! I got on here right after and committed to taking good care and not somatisizing my experience.
    I don't have as much control as I wish, sometimes.
    I am going to return to The Divided Mind and re-read. I need another Book Cure. I did all my other TMS remedies and the pain is still there sometimes, enough to scare me.
    I am on day 29 of the Headspace pain program. Wonderfully helpful in conjunction with the TMS approach. Kindness, mindfulness, compassion, open heartedness, all are indispensable.
    Thanks for your story!!!!!
  19. shannonstoney

    shannonstoney New Member

    Good to know that shoulder pain could be TMS. I had a fall in 2007 that resulted in real bursitis, and I had a bursa removed. That shoulder has been fine ever since, until this past week, when it started hurting again. But there were also a number of emotionally troubling things that happened: a friend told me about some sexual abuse in her childhood; I was bullied (again) in a volunteer group, so I quit the group finally and forever; a squirrel died in the walls of my house, making a terrible smell; I got a huge water bill and had to repair my water line, also very expensive. There is also some lingering rage about the way my family treated me at Christmas and over the past year. Also there's just general election year anxiety, which can be intense! (I quit following news recently to see if that would help.) And, there is the intermittent gunfire in the neighborhood from men "practicing" in their backyards. (Practicing for what?) All of this is enraging! I might slow down on some of the physical things I do with that shoulder, for a while, but in the end I think it's TMS. (Somebody mentioned sensitive teeth: I also have that!)
    Enrique and JanAtheCPA like this.

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