Q&A: How do I know that it's safe to resume normal activities?

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I think I have TMS because I am described perfectly in Sarno's books. I have gone through much stress with my new career in last two years as well as in my personal life. I experienced excruciating tailbone and buttock spasms along with sciatica in both legs. It started while doing a seated forward-bend yoga stretch one morning before work….and my life screeched to a full stop. I was diagnosed with a bulged disc at L4/L5 and have been off work for 7 months…slowly recovering at home. Discovered the Sarno books etc in January, but only recently started doing the emotional “work” seriously in April when I found the TMS forum and have noticed some physical improvement and it has been wonderful for reducing my fear and anxiety.

However, I can't stop remembering that I have been warned by doctors and physical therapists not to use my body “normally” anymore. I was told by my MD that it was possible to return to my physically active job soon but that I would have to “move” differently from now on, and be very “careful” of body placement. He stated that “second” injuries are impossible to recover from.

I know that TMS recovery focuses on the mind and not on the structural, but how do I KNOW if it's safe for me to bend at the waist, touch my toes (like I used to), twist, and lift? How do I know that it's not "time" healing me structurally versus doing the "emotional" work? I would hate to reinjuremyself and prove my MD right.

Answer by Howard Schubiner, MD

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Howard Schubiner, MD

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The first thing to do when there is pain is to figure out what is causing the pain. You will never know how to proceed unless you know what the problem is. Has your doctor told you if you have any loss of sensation, muscle strength or reflexes in your legs? As you are probably aware by now, bulging discs are common in people without pain, so that disc bulge may not have anything to do with your pain. Have you looked carefully at what was going on in your life at the time when your pain started? Does your pain improve when you cope better with stress and do the writing exercises? Does your pain worsen when you are stressed, angry or upset?

In order to heal TMS, one must KNOW that they have TMS. If you are unsure, seek a consultation from a doctor who specializes in TMS. If that is impossible, you will have to proceed based on your best understanding. If your doctors tell you that there is no nerve damage and they have approved exercise, then you can go ahead and exercise. Once you are sure that you have TMS and that there is no problem in your back, you should start to treat your back normally. You should begin to exercise and gradually increase your activity to do everything that you want to do. If you hold back, you are showing that you are afraid and this feeling will tend to prevent you from a full recovery.


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