Repetitive Strain Injuries - RSI

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Please keep in mind that before treating any condition, including Repetitive Strain Injuries - RSI, as TMS or PPD, it is vitally important to consult with your physician in order to rule out any serious medical conditions. To learn more about TMS and PPD, and to help you figure out if you have it, visit our An Introduction to TMS page and watch the video there. Some more guidance in figuring out if this approach is right for you can be found in the video at the top of our So You Think You Might Have TMS page.

To contribute your own story of healing from TMS, please click here to see how to post it on the forum.

Repetitive Strain Injuries - RSI and TMS Success Stories

  • Rachel's RSI Homage to Dr. John Sarno Rachel's compelling personal account of her struggle with pain that was diagnosed as RSI, her discovery of Dr. John Sarno and his book The Mindbody Prescription and her subsequent recovery.
  • Nate's RSI Story Nate's similarly compelling and detailed history of his struggle to find the correct diagnosis and treatment for his injury, how he came upon the TMS diagnosis and the progress he has made.
  • The Seattle Area RIST Site The Seattle Repetitive Strain Injury Support Team (RIST) is devoted to helping people who are long time sufferers of RSIs such as tendonitis, thoracic outlet syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome cure their pain by adopting TMS principles.
  • HilaryN's story Hilary describes how she recovered from RSI after suffering from it for 13 years. HilaryN is an active member of the TMS Wiki. Check out HilaryN's forum profile and feel free to contact her.
  • Armchairlinguist's story Armchairlinguist developed RSI while at college and couldn't type or write much. She tried various therapies but none of them had any long-term benefit. Also initially sceptical about Sarno, she finally decided to give it a serious try and was slowly able to return to activities she had been unable to do previously.
  • Koukla's story Koukla had to leave her job because of RSI and also started to get pain in the hips, knees, shoulders, knuckles and elbows. After getting married the pain got worse and she had to rely on her husband to do everything for her. She read The Mindbody Prescription but didn't take it seriously. After seeing no improvement with physical therapy she started to think maybe she had TMS and began reading the TMS Help forum and slowly started returning to activity.
  • Delightenment's story Delightenment was a conference planner in a stressful job. He tried various therapies without success then after reading stories of people who recovered from RSI and by learning to become aware of emotions through "Self-Regulation Therapy" he recovered completely.
  • Samthefish's story Samthefish describes his symptoms and how they coincided with stressful events in his life. He then shares his recovery and highlights the strategies that helped him the most.
  • Dannord's story Dan recovered from 10 years of extremely disabling RSI. You can watch him progress from “With no arms and no voice, my future looks bleak and it has already been bad for almost a decade now” to “I consider myself recovered now” in the thread in which he received support at TMSHelp.
  • YogaKym's story This is the personal account of YogaKym, a 51-year old web developer who began suffering from RSI symptoms in 2005 and recovered within one month of following Dr. Sarno's protocol.
  • DrGUID's story. This is the personal account of DrGUID, a computer programmer who suffered for 10 years from what he thought was RSI before finding TMS and Dr. Sarno. Along with his story, DrGUID provides his own "tips for beating RSI."
  • Ailsa's story. Ailsa suffered from multiple symptoms which meant she had to use a wheelchair. At times her RSI was so bad that she couldn't dress, go to the bathroom or eat without assistance. She made a full recovery and was able to return to full unrestricted activity.
  • Chris A.'s story. Chris was a computer programmer and skilled pianist before RSI forced him to give up both using computers and playing music. After suffering for 6 years he discovered Dr Sarno and Fred Amir's books and within a few week was "90% healed."
  • Staffan's story Staffan had RSI for 6 years, and explains how he became "95% better" after embracing TMS. He also details a couple of setbacks and how he overcame them and how he has become much more mindful about minimising daily stress.
  • exRSIed's story ExRSled briefly starts a discussion about the difficulties of telling anyone else about TMS. He had had RSI for 2 years and within 3 days of reading about its non-structural root was "cured."
  • Campbell's story Campbell discusses the impact that RSI had on her life. She also highlights the importance of minimising stressful situations at work, and finishes with a positive note - that going through the whole miserable experience of RSI has allowed her to start to "really know" herself.
  • Elliot's story A short but very uplifting post. Elliot was in the final year at university studying to be a web developer when RSI left him unable to do much more than stretch out an index finger on the keyboard. After reading Rachel's website posts he was inspired to read Fred Amir's book, and within 2 months was back to using the keyboard and mouse 24/7. "Goodbye RSI, hello career."
  • Andrew's Story. Andrew had pain, pins and needles and numbness in both arms and was unable to type or write without pain. It is especially interesting to read because it is a diary of his recovery and you can watch how he goes from a user of Dragon NaturallySpeaking who is "cautiously optimistic" that he might make progress to typing normally, playing badminton, and playing guitar. Andrew also created a website] that provides information and other resources on TMS and Dr. Sarno.
  • Michael's Story. He says, "I am now 99-100% better cured. This is only after four months. I have probably typed more in the last two months than I did during the last year -- I am not exagerating at all! I would have never been able to type this email! I found now that I have been virtually pain free for almost three months that I do not fear activities or the pain itself.
  • CB's Story. He says "[I discovered Sarno's TMS theory] over four years after I stopped working, Nov 2002. I [still] have some small pain and other symptoms on a daily basis, but I use the techniques Don Dubin and Schechter's workbook taught me, and the pain responds. I have been able to do all my work without any restrictions."
  • Anonymous I's Story. He says, "I still have flare-ups occassionally (and occassional doubts, I admit). But I've started a new more intense job (without using software,etc) and am doing fine. When I have a bit of pain (nothing like before) I just recognize it as an emotional issue and don't give it much attention. It seems to work. The pain either goes away entirely or doesn't get any worse. This is a huge improvement from where I was without Sarno's theory."
  • Anonymous II's Story. He says, "After about three days, I was playing video games, typing, exercising, all as I did before. I went to the gym and got into the ring (I do boxing, though rather half-assed and irregularly). After six months of inactivety, I had no muscles and poor coordination, so I got my ass kicked pretty good. That was allright, though, because I caught a few shots to the head, and I think my brain really deserved that for letting me down like this!"
  • Jude's story He says, "The guy, Nate, describes TMS and how he used Sarno's method to heal RSI. The site is just one page (check it out!) and by the time I had read to the bottom, all my symptoms were gone!! I did the full 8 hours (with breaks of course) and never felt a thing. And I've remained free of RSI ever since, about 3 years now."
  • Alexis' Story She says, "Things continue to go well 2 1/2 years on, working full time at a computer job. So please, if you have "RSI" hang in there. I do believe most can be cured, and it's the myth that it can't that holds us back."
  • CelloLWF's Story He says, "I got rid of my RSI. DONE! Went from full pain to complete control of symptoms in two days. Fantastic. I can control the pain if it comes back. I just allow myself to get really angry, and it stops. I'm back to playing cello full time again (after 2 years of nightmare)."
  • Goldie's Story He says, "Guess what - i was 99% better within 2 months! Today, my pain and depression are only a distant memory and i am working with computers again full time as well as being back at the gym enjoying a full weights program again. I am 100% confident that i have my pain under control, understand why it happened and am forever grateful to Dr Sarno."
  • Carbar's Story He says, "Yesterday, I went KAYAKING. 7 miles of paddling. Down stream, but still. TMS mostly showed up in me as Repetitive Stress Injury to both my arms. This activity would have been unthinkable until 2.5 years ago. I am so glad I found out about TMS coz of "the interwebz" and read that book!"
  • h2oskier's story She says, "I've had minor recurrances that NEVER slow me down, but I have embraced the resume normal activity commandment whole heartedly and NEVER looked back. I still have a flare up, like yesterday, which was the first in over 6 months (WOW). I must say, its truly flattering to be asked "How you did it", when for years, I was doing the asking."
  • Seanf's story He says, "Wrist pain was my first TMS symptom. It went on for a year before I discovered Sarno. After three weeks of applying his principles, it subsided. The pain was never severe, but it was enough to make me take leave from my job and quit playing guitar. Fear is a major ingredient in TMS."
  • Zorlee's story He says, "I started driving a little bit, started practising my drums for 20 minutes, started to exercise a little, and within a week I was pain-free! And I've been pain free since January 2008!! It's SO great, and I just LOVE IT!!!!"
  • Aaron Iba's story. This is a great account that goes into a lot of detail about his condition, the various treatments and the success from using mindbody techniques. He says, "Two weeks after reading TMP I was typing completely pain-free. As of March 9th, 2010, it has been over 13 months since I last experienced pain while typing. I can type as much as I want, in whatever unergonomic position I want, on any keyboard, without any pain. The amazing thing about this recovery is that the changes I implemented were entirely psychological."
  • Sky's story. This is an account from a guy who suffered from RSI at college which persisted for the next two years. He has created a website to host his story. He starts to address the stress in his life and then he says, "Immediately, 99% of the pain I'd felt from typing disappeared. Once again, I could type on any keyboard I wanted (ergonomic keyboards immediately struck me as a ******** idea), for as long as I wanted, in any posture I wanted, without having done hand exercises or stretches . . . and feel no pain. I was shocked, and I became fascinated by the connection between mind and body. Other health conditions disappeared immediately as well, such as minor knee, abdominal, and shoulder pain, and I was once again able to wear contact lenses throughout the day without my eyes becoming irritatingly dry."
  • Keith's story This story is worth including even though it's not the traditional Sarno style recovery account. Keith is a Kudalini yoga teacher who works with RSI sufferers. There are a lot of internet success stories online for the Alexander Technique in curing RSI. Keith describes how this technique along with various meditation and yoga exercises cured his RSI. He concludes "RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury is an MSD (Muscular Skeletal Disorder). The solution for it is the same as for other MSD's - De-stressing or in AT terms improve your Use. Very few medical doctors know about this - you are lucky if you find one. Things that help with RSI can be arranged into a continuum. You generally start looking for an answer with ergonomic changes and if that doesnt work move on to external physical things like stretching and massage then if that doesnt work on to the somatic mind/body things."
  • Justin's story Justin has put together a comprehensive website] in which he details his efforts to overcome his RSI using exercises, psychotherapy and Sarno's methods. He explains, "Acknowledge that the mind is ridiculous powerful beast which needs to be examined when someone is in a lot of pain without any structual cause. Treat the mind and the body. The mindbody connection has to be acknowledged in RSI conditions. A lot of the time people with RSI will focus on how to get rid of the pain, all of the attention and focus will be on pain minimization and pain relief and inadvertently the pain becomes the central focus and theme for the sufferer."
  • Ben's story Ben says, "I had repetitive stress injury / tendonitis / carpel tunnel syndrome / MSD for two years of my life, and am now fully recovered. Starting in the spring of my third year at Stanford, I started noticing tingling and discomfort in my wrists, hands and lower arms when I typed for long periods of time. It quickly worsened to the point that I couldn't lift heavy objects, I couldn't open tight jar-lids for people, I couldn't type, couldn't write much, couldn't snowboard without experiencing pain every time I strapped myself in. After adopting Sarno's techniques he says, "A few times since then, I will start to feel pain in my arms, but I just relax for a few seconds and take a deep breath, and I'm back to being fine!"
  • Debra's story Debra went all the way to India to try and find a treatment for her RSI, but found the solution when she came home. She says, "I actually found Sarno before I went to India but I had to have exhausted all other options before I could commit to the theory. It is really hard to give up the physical treatment (part of the deal) otherwise. I have recently been seen by an Osteopath, Dr. Straiton, in Brighton who has met Dr. Sarno and agrees with his theory of TMS. Dr. Straiton pronounced me fit and well and sent me off with written exercises to do as well as a recommendation for psychotherapy. As far as I'm concerned, my RSI and Fibromyalgia is TMS and I intend to continue to follow this path."
  • Stephen's story Stephen is another former RECOUP patient who went to India to try and cure his RSI, but found that Sarno's methods were more effective. He says, "I have discovered a therapy that has made more difference in my life than anything else. I have tried everything under the sun taking multiple treatments a week for years. After starting on [Sarno's] treatment, I experienced more improvement in one month than I had combined over years of treatments. After one week, I played an intense video game (Command and Conquer 3) for 2 hours with only minor discomfort. The week previous I was using voice recognition and mousing only when necessary. Perhaps it's coincidence but my improvement seems to be directly correlated to my slow increase in confidence that I have TMS and not RSI. In early 2009, I accepted it fully and my improvement was dramatic after that."
  • Brian's story Brian has written a comprehensive explanation of his recovery from RSI using Sarno's techniques. He has also found the PPD/TMS forum] useful - which is good! He says, "I was cured from RSI after 10 months of chronic and debilitating pain. This information below might literally change your life forever; it did mine."
  • Lene's story Lene's story is another in depth account of the debilitating nature of her RSI, the medical treatments she tried and the success she had from Sarno's techniques: "For two years I was in incredible pain that first developed in my arms after very intensive computer use and later in my knees for some (at that time) unknown reason. For most of those 2 years I wasn't able to work, not to mention cook, clean, buy groceries, ect.. I used a straw to drink out of and my husband helped me to carry food ect. to the table. In other words the situation was pretty bad. I accepted Sarno's approach and applied it. Already after a few weeks I saw a big difference, and I could cook meals, which I hadn't done for two years. In about 3-4 months I was pretty much pain free being able to do all those things I had enjoyed before: playing the piano, knitting, lifting, doing yoga, exercising, working, ect. After all that time it felt like having life back again."
  • Part-way down this thread, Teddybear describes how he recovered from RSI by playing video games.
  • In this forum thread, bhushan talks about his recovery so far and his fears about going back to work. In this thread, he mentions his complete recovery and return to long hours of work on a laptop without any pain.
  • There are also an overwhelming number of success stories posted on Amazon under the reviews for Dr Sarno's books. The TMS wiki is run by volunteers who have no financial interest in promoting Sarno's books (although we would recommend reading some of the excellent mindbody books out there - see the book review section for a selection). However, Amazon is such a great source of success stories it seems a shame not to share some of them here. Here are a small selection:
    • H Spektor (28 May 2010) "I'm 19 years old, and having found my calling of music and playing various instruments, after failing school many times over, I was very depressed when just before I was about to start a music degree, I developed RSI in my playing hands, arms, neck, and shoulders. I read this book, and I picked up my guitar shortly after, no pain, no numbness, no loss of strength. This book gives the scientific arguement of this method, and points out huge flaws in modern medicine. I suggest it strongly, simply amazing."
    • Jimmy G (8 March 2010) "I'm a university student and in my first year, I found myself diagnosed with RSI and crippled with pain in my elbow and the tendons in my forearm. I was prescribed very strong painkillers and was advised to rest and ice but whilst there was some difference in the short term, eventually the pain came back as strong as ever. [snip] It takes some getting used to, especially the "do what you used to do before" part, but I promise that within 2 weeks, you will find your symptoms easing and eventually disappearing. I don't doubt that there are certain physical activities which can precipitate or aggravate rsi but the real question, is why the pain doesn't stop after desisting from these activities! This is THE question which the book answers. Good luck!"
    • Martyn Lawrenson (23 February 2010) "I'm the biggest sceptic of all time, but this solved 50% my tendonitis problems after 1 day and 95% after 3 days. I expect that in a week it will be cured. If you have a persistent injury that cannot be explained by normal logic, then read this book with an open mind and you'll be fine."
    • Colin Carson (15 March 2007) "I have suffered from what i thought was RSI for over three years to the point i was about to quit my job, the pain radiated from the tips of my fingers to my neck. I've had X Rays anti-inflammatories Acupuncture physio therapy deep tissue massage all to no avail. That is till I came across Dr Sarno's little paper miracle! Buy it read it never look back."
    • TP (13 July 2006) "UPDATE: Its been over 4 years and I'm RSI free, it done come back a few months after first getting it but I read one of his later books and applied the principles and it soon went away again. I used to get the occasional back pain too, but having read the book if I do get any symptoms (which is now very infrequent) I can make them go away just by running through the principals in the book before I go to sleep."
    • RJP (19 May 2006) "Before using this book i had RSI to the point where i couldnt type, chronic pain left over from whiplash in my shoulder and chronic jaw pain. I'd had physio on my RSI and whiplash but to no real success, and hospital treatment for my jaw to no real success. After 3 weeks of reading this book (over and over again) i was COMPLETELY FREE of any pain. I really couldnt believe it!!.."
    • Customer 1 (September 2005) "I gradually built up finger, hand, elbow, arm and shoulder pain. After several months of pain I saw an RSI "expert" and was told that I needed to take more breaks and stretch frequently. His advice didn't work but I continued to read RSI books and eventually came across Sarno's book. It's been two months since then and I'm 95% cured!"
    • Customer 2 (17 Februray 2005) "I had RSI symptoms which i now know were based on emotional factors and this book ultimately saved me from prolonged anquish over my symptoms and how they were 'restricting' my life. As a 32 year old computer-programmer who literally and suddenly couldn't type for more than five minutes without severe arm/shoulder/wrist pain I was desperate for an answer - and it certainly didn't come from my doctor or physiotherapist.... You're not going mad, it's not 'all in your head' it is simply a natural coping mechanism to deal with the stress thrown at us all by modern living."
    • Customer 3 (6 March 2005) "I have suffered from RSI for about one year and, after a very depressing period of intense pain, it had become more manageable through osteopathy and anti-inflammatory treatments. A friend introduced me to Sarno's work saying that she had cured her long-term back pain with it. I am fairly sceptical about anything I perceive to be New Age and accepted her offer of a loan of the book without thinking my cure was around the corner. I read the book, recognised a great deal of what he says are particular types who suffer back pain/RSI and began the program. Within a few days the pain had receded significantly and within two weeks, it was virtually gone."
    • E Wright "This works! Do not simply disregard the theories because they are radically different from other approaches and ideas behind chronic pain used by practioneers the world over. If you are open-minded enough to just embrace the idea and remain persistent, you will be pleasantly surprised! The fact is had I RSI FOR two years, but before ever reading sarno the following things did not make sense to me: I had the type of RSI where there is no pathology behind it. There was and is absolutely no evidence of structural damage anywhere in my arms, to the extent that my Doctor almost implied that I was wasting his time! It made no sense to me that such great pain could be caused my no damage or weakness of muscle fibres in my arms whatsoever. Dr. Sarno's theory can explain effectively why this is. I did understand why both my arms went out in sympathy. I played guitar, where both hands are doing something different. Why should the pain be exactly equal? When I discovered his books, everthing fitted into place."

Repetitive Strain Injuries - RSI referenced in TMS Books

Symptoms are attributed to repetitive tasks, like working at a computer keyboard. In many cases muscle, nerve and tendon involvement are combined with symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands, often bilateral. Patients complain of pain, numbness, tingling and weakness, invariably brought on or aggravated by their job tasks...Pain, numbness and tingling involve the hand and are attributed to compression of the median nerve by a band across the wrist, the flexor retinaculum...Without the knowledge of TMS it would be impossible to explain the symptoms.

  • On page 65 in To Be or Not To Be Pain Free, Marc Sopher writes:

Sometimes constant, sometimes intermittent, triggers may include repetitive activity (like keyboard or mouse work) and even sleep! Fortunately, recent studies may help help to dispel these myths. Remember, a keyboard can only cause discomfort if it falls from a great height!

  • On page 93 in To Be or Not To Be Pain Free, Marc Sopher writes:

I firmly believe that RSD (repetive stress disorders)...exists only because of the legal, social, and medical sanctions in our society. Remove litigation, insurance companies, and practitioners wed to the mistaken belief in physical causes for all physical symptoms, and RSDs vanish.

  • In The Mindbody Prescription Dr Sarno says:

"As the term implies, symptoms are attributed to repetitive tasks, like working at a computer keyboard." ... "Pain, numbness and tingling involve the hand and are attributed to compression of the median nerve by a band across the wrist, the flexor retinaculum. However one expert on the subject has suggested that the manifestations of the disorders are better explained by the kind of minor vascular abnormality typical of TMS."

(See also conditioning.)

Video about RSI and TMS/PPD

See Also

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