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Wrist Pain - Is this TMS?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by s.mohseni, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. s.mohseni

    s.mohseni New Member

    Hello there.

    My name is Shaz and I am an artist suffering from severe hand and wrist pain. I'm looking for a bit of encouragement and maybe some advice as to whether my symtoms sound like TMS.

    2 years ago now, I gave myself severe RSI (probably tendonitis) from drawing too much because of a tight deadline. I've had that problem before, and cured it with ibuprofens in the past. This time, it refused to go away. After a few months, the pain started to change, but generally i've not been able to draw painlessly ever since.

    My symptoms usually start as an itching sensation in my wrist, more often at the ulnar side. Its a deep infuriating internal itch that I cant scratch and it drives me crazy. After I try and ignore the itch for a while, it progresses into an awful burning sensation. More recently, I've experienced tender finger joints, as though ive been gripping the pen too hard, and I've also had periods of severe elbow pain. The wrist pain can move around, and be either side or in the middle, however there are some regular spots that it hits. The pain can come on suddenly, slowly, or i can wake up with it. The only pattern is that it nearly always hits me after about 3 hours of drawing, and thats a good day.

    I have tried heat and ice, anti-inflammatories, nerve pills, anti-depressants, about 5 different types of hand brace, resting for weeks on end, vitamin pills for several possible defficiencies, special gels, and more. I have seen several doctors, a hand specialist, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a rheumatologist, a chiro, and a hand surgeon. I've had MRIs on both hands, ultrasound, blood tests. I've done all the stretches, the weights, the posture modifications, I even bought a better chair for my workdesk. According to the doctors, nothing is wrong (that they can find). The surgeon said nothing needs to be operated on. I have no weakness, no loss of movement or function. People have told me 'Its a good wrist'. I even tried drawing with my other hand for a while, but developed pain there as well, albeit a different pain (more of a nerve ache rather than itching/burning).

    I read Dr Sarno's book January of this year. I was excited at the thought of recovery. I have reason to believe that my problem might be a mind-body issue, because I have some days where I am totally fine, but they are very rare. I am passionate about drawing, I am trained in animation, and to be honest, art is my life. Not being able to draw without pain has a huge effect on me emotionally. I fell into a depression with it all last year, and at that point, nearly all my joints were hurting. I want to truely believe its a mind problem, but lately I've had such consistent pain in the same area of my wrist, and its always after drawing for a couple of hours, that its so so hard sometimes to believe theres really nothing going on inside.

    I'm trying to tackle my fear of drawing, but even though im drawing regularly again, i'm still plagued with this awful hand pain. I'm on the waiting list to see a therapist about inner stress/rage, so I hope that will help. In the meantime, can anyone relate to this situation, and would you say I could safely conclude its TMS? I'm finding it hard to come across people with my specific type of pain problem (itching/burning pain in the wrist). Any input would be hugely appreciated.

    Thanks so very much!
  2. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Shaz,

    Welcome to the forums! Yes it sounds like you definitely have TMS! You've seen all the specialists, they can't find anything wrong and nothing out of the ordinary has been found. Rest assured you're in the right place. Plenty of people here have recovered from TMS-induced hand and wrist pain. Recall from your reading that the mind can produce any sensation in the body, including nerve sensations such as tingling, burning, itching, etc.

    Have you been reading more TMS books or tried the SEP to reinforce and strengthen your belief in and understanding of TMS? Let me know if you have other questions, too!
  3. s.mohseni

    s.mohseni New Member

    Hello! Thank you for the reply!!

    My main concern is that this started with a very real injury, and since its mostly nerve pain, i'm worried its some kind of invisible nerve damage that wont show on any test. I want to firmly believe its TMS, but I reckon this is probably what's holding me back. I'm well aware that this is probably only aggravating the situation and adding to the fear side of TMS, but I think even when I tell myself its not, theres always the subconcious worry that I'm doing damage or that its irreversible. The thought of not being able to do my hobby and my career choice is unbearable for me, and coupled with stress and anxiety, I've probably created a ripe environment for TMS to thrive. Once again, I'm completely aware of this, but just becoming aware hasnt made it any easier to combat the pain.

    I'll admit I only read the one book so far. Are there any others in particular you suggest? I'm sure I could dig through the forums to get this info, but thought i'd ask anyway, incase there are some more specific to my situation. I'm going to try the SEP after reading into it more. I also dont feel that i've tried the journalling approach properly yet. I tried to keep a digital one, but now I'm thinking that perhaps it wants to be a hand-written one to truly make a difference. I'm hoping my therapist will eventually be able to pick apart some events of my past which might be hindering me. As i keep mentioning, I really do want to believe its in my mind, but I think my perfectionist nature and sometimes self-loathing combined with how much drawing means to me is just making it very difficult to make any kind of break in this vicious cycle.

    Thanks again! Really appreciate the support.
  4. David88

    David88 Well known member

    I've had pain in my hands that turned out to be TMS. Your description is very like what I experienced, especially the odd pain sensations.

    Are you quite sure your original injury was not TMS? Tendinitis and RSI are very common TMS symptoms.

    It sounds like you know it's TMS, but you're having trouble getting past the fear of resuming full activity with your hand. Fear is often the hardest part of TMS to overcome.

    My advice is to take it slowly. Don't push yourself to recover immediately, as that can increase your anxiety and hence pain. You may have a lot of buried feelings to explore. That takes time, and a lot of self-compassion. As you work through those feelings, the pain will diminish.
    Enrique likes this.
  5. s.mohseni

    s.mohseni New Member

    Hello! Its great to hear that hand sensations like mine arent unheard of for TMS. Thanks for the reply.

    I never actually considered that my initial injury was TMS, because, at the time, I was working way too hard and it felt familiar because I had also suffered a bit of tendonitis in the past, which went away with anti inflammatories. That being said, perhaps every case of 'tendonitis' i've experienced was always TMS, and it going away with the drugs was just a correlation/coincidence. When it happened this time (I.e. the time that started this much bigger problem) it felt exactly the same as all the other times i'd gotten swollen tendons, so I assumed it was that. You could be right thought, it could always have just been a type of TMS. However, the pain I experience now is not like the old 'tendonitis' pain. Instead it comes and goes quickly, does not respond to drugs, ice, heat, anything like that, and sometimes hurts whether im using my hand or not.

    The other thing is that I have resumed activity, or atleast I have tried to. I am doing my best to draw in spite of the pain, and sometimes im okay, but more often than not, if im not already in pain, i'll be hurting after a couple of hours working. Im trying to start each day like 'I am going to draw, pain or no pain' but sometimes its just too much for me. Perhaps I am expecting too much of myself too soon? I might benefit from a timer to limit how long i draw for, but it can be SO tempting to keep drawing when my arm doesnt hurt, and very difficult to force myself to stop before I start to feel pain.

    I will definitely try to slow my pace and stop expecting a speedy recovery. I know it will take time, and I'm working to be a little more selfish and allow myself time for relaxing. I have a lot of inner rage to get out but its such a tight ball that I think I probably do need a therapist to help me unpick it.

    Thanks very much for the support!!
  6. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Agree with the above comments- many forms of "tendonitis" are likely really TMS, of course ibuprofen will help them too! I find myself saying this more recently...TMS does produce real changes in the body. All of the times you had pain and nerve symptoms, even for a short time, may have been TMS. If there was inflammation or a muscle spasm, medication would help. Try not to worry about what the past incidences were and focus on this one as being TMS...know that any major nerve damage (non TMS) would show up on imaging. If all those medical professionals are unconcerned, you can be too :)
    s.mohseni likes this.
  7. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    Hey there Shaz. When you get a chance, read my story. I had crazy bad wrist and hand pain that healed in after learning about TMS.
    s.mohseni likes this.
  8. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    s.mohseni likes this.
  9. s.mohseni

    s.mohseni New Member

    Hello Enrique! Thanks for the reply. I will read your story right away!
    Enrique likes this.
  10. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    Just keep in mind that the pain doesn't always go away as fast as it did for me that first time. I've had other pain in other parts of my body since I wrote my story which took longer. Try to accept the diagnosis, give into it, be kind to yourself, have patience, and don't expect perfection.
    cdub likes this.
  11. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    YUP! What Enrique said.
  12. douggie

    douggie Peer Supporter


    I used to be in ibanking and typing / mousing was my life. I developed carpal tunnel / rsi. After doing the sep and reading sarno's books my hands have "healed" about 95%. It's been a miracle
    cdub, Enrique and Tennis Tom like this.
  13. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    To be effective, TMS has to block you (distract you). If I am a runner, it will go after my feet, if I am a boxer it will go after my shoulder (baseball players too!). I use all of my body (framer, painter, plasterer , guitar player, motorcycle and bike enthusiast) so it goes after anything.

    I was working on a film back in LA and got symptoms like you describe. My hands began to itch, than numbness and finally painful. The onset medic attributed it to all of the sanding and marbleizing we were doing. Already being Sarno-saavy, as soon as he said 'carpal tunnal' or whatever, I ran home, re-read the book and through introspection realized that I absolutely HATED working in the film industry. The pain left immediately... I knew I would have to leave Hollywood and I did eventually.

    BTW... I hand stripped 8 mahogany doors this week pain free... Oh yeah, I was in a field on a horse ranch here in Tn. Doing it for someone who actually appreciates it!

    the answers are there... we don't even need to necessarily find them, only know that is's NOT what we think

    cdub, Enrique, Ellen and 1 other person like this.
  14. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome to the TMS Wiki BB65! Two great TMS thoughts above.

    Baseball65, has been a longtime contributor, stalwart and mentor at the the TMS Help Forum. If you'd like to read more of his lively writings, you can do a "SEARCH" at the TMS Help Forum.

  15. Scotty

    Scotty New Member

    I am an artist had similar went away ..It was TMS....read THE GREAT PAIN DECEPTION by Steve Ozvanich. See it there is something going on with your relationship with painting that is causing this

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