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10 years of back pain- New Here and Qs

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by AllyC, Nov 15, 2018.

  1. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    Hello all-
    Forgive me if I post in the wrong place. I am brand new to the forum (to any online forum, really).
    My name is Ally. I’m a 33 year old mom of 3, married to my post-high school sweet heart for 12 years—-and I have been suffering from chronic low back pain for 10 years.

    It started when my first child was 8 months old, we had moved from Ca to TX a few months prior and were living with my parents. I picked up my baby off the floor and had to fling her to the couch as my back gave out (as to not drop her or fall on her). I’ve had chronic low back pain with flares of my back going out ever since. When my back is “out” I’m stuck in bed with constant heat, ice, and NSAIDs until I can get somewhat mobile again. Lately, I cannot sit, stand, or walk for much longer than 20-30 minutes at a time since the last time my back went out in August. I live terrified of the pain, it’s consequences, and how I’ll ever be able to take care of my children if this gets any worse.

    I’ve seen a few doctors and chiropractors, all who refused to do an x-ray or MRI because of my insurance. I’ve been told it’s just a “bad back, doesn’t sound like disk/nerve involvement, and it’s probably due to having babies.” I’ve only ever been diagnosed with Diastasis Recti (my abdominal muscles are 2.5 fingers apart after pregnacies) and a physical therapist who I’ve seen recently said my “hips were upslipped” but after working with her for several weeks that beyond the diastasis, I have no more upslip and I *should * be painfree.

    But I’m not. Same old back pain, now with twinges of sharper pain in different areas of the low back, sometimes hips, and lately now my left knee. I’m currently laying down with an ice pack as I type this due to sharp pain in the left side of my low back.

    I came across the idea of TMS and Dr Sarno about a month ago and everything rang so true! I’m a hard core type A (well, type T) personality. Driven, perfectionistic, ultra responsible, and I suffer with a lot of fear and anxiety surrounding my family, finances, and the need to “do it all perfectly.” I’ve read Healing Back Pain, watched All the Rage, spent hours on YouTube listening to interviews with Steve Ozanich, Dr Hanscom, Dr Schecter, and watched dozens of TMS success stories.

    I live in a suburb of Texas with no TMS doctors around, and my insurance is very limited.

    So I guess my question is, is it necessary to have an MRI/X-ray done before I can proceed with the TMS treatment? And does the presence of the abdominal split (diastasis) exclude me from a TMS diagnosis (I am still working on it in PT)?

    Thank you to anyone who has made it through my long winded post. I so desperately want to get out of pain and live my life again!

    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
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  2. FredAmir

    FredAmir Well known member

    Hi Ally,


    It’s a classic case of TMS according to what you wrote.

    Good job avoiding X-Ray. Since no serious issue like infection or a tumor has not been found, MRI will not help according to the American College of Physicians.


    If it’s diastasis recti, that can contribute to back pain and hope your PT is following the Tupler Technique.

    https://diastasisrehab.com/ (Diastasis Recti Non-Surgical Treatment | Exercise Program | Tupler Tec)

    As for treating TMS, it is something you can try and see how your pain responds. In this interview with Katelyn Michals of the Mind Body Mastery, I explain steps to recovery from TMS.


    Take care,
  3. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    I hear you, Ally! You're a trooper. So great you're diving in.

    My personal opinion is to avoid X-rays and MRIS. The cons so outweigh the pros, and you set yourself up to receive findings to obsess over, like herniations, etc.

    Like Fred said, it sounds like classic TMS. (I'm sure you already know that, given how much you're researching!)

    If you think it will help you to talk to a TMS specialist, go for it. Some people need to hear it from a specialist to build the confidence to start moving again and ignoring the pain/symptom imperative.
    Just go for it, slowly but bravely, doing more, discovering exceptions, building your belief in it being TMS through your raw lived experience. You are the ultimate authority in your life, and it's your belief that matters, not some expert's.

    I'm writing this as someone who at the beginning of September was afraid to walk even five minutes, and had been out of work for five months. Like you, I was told I had a bad back, degenerative disc disease, one doctor even called my back "deranged". Now I walk as much as I want, I ran an 8-minute mile today, and I'm back to full-time work. I'm about 80% pain free.

    If you have questions, please ask! Those of us who've healed or are actively healing, we're here to help.

    P. S. One book that helped me get moving again was Back Sense by Siegel et al. It lays out a nice plan. Also, at the start, I listened to Claire Weekes audio MP3 talks as I was challenging the pain, to quell my anxiety. It was invaluable to my recovery.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  4. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    Thank you! I will dig into all of those links and continue with the PT for the diastasis and forge ahead with TMS work. I’m glad to hear that I don’t in fact need imaging.

    Thank you again!
  5. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    Oh my! Thank you! Your story gives me so much hope! I had talked with my husband earlier today about going for walks. I tried earlier in the week and made it about 5 minutes before hobbling home. I’m so encouraged to hear your progress in such a short time!

    I will check out that book after I read “Back in Control” (Dr Hanscom) which just came in the mail today.

    Thank you again!
    Sofa likes this.
  6. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    You are welcome! I updated my post while you were replying, adding more things I hope will be useful.
    AllyC likes this.
  7. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    Thank you! Those clarifications were fantastic! I will start listening to those audio talks tomorrow!
  8. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    It's all about the anxiety :)
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  9. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    You know-I’ve denied having anxious thoughts for years...practically my whole life as I was always told it was sinful. I finally acknowledged it (and a ton of other toxic/repressed thoughts and emotions) to my husband last week in a series of deep conversations. Emotionally I felt a lot lighter, but man, has my physical pain gone crazy since then! It’s part of what let me know I wasn’t crazy to think TMS was a culprit!
    Sofa and Lizzy like this.
  10. Sofa

    Sofa Well known member

    Free of Fear always speaks the truth!! Ally, I suffer from low back pain and other pain that I think radiates from the back. I'll tell you what has helped me, and it came from the advice of all these experts here on this forum such as Free of Fear, bloodmoon, Baseball65, Lizzie, etc...
    Anyway, what helped me is just diving back into the daily routing (including exercise) despite the pain! I was so afraid of making it worse that it DID get worse. I'm a lot better now (just as of last month), because I began running again and swimming, and basically everything I used to do. Without worry! So I'd recommend that approach if you can do it! Run free! I think resuming physical activity quiets the TMS symptoms. Good luck and welcome to this forum!!
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
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  11. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    Thank you! I think fear of making it worse or my back going out again is what has limited me the most.
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  12. Sofa

    Sofa Well known member

    Yeah, that was my problem. I had decided enough was enough, and just got back to living!! I have a 1 year old daughter now, and I'm no spring chicken so I needed to just let go of the fear and try to improve the back pain!! It's been working!
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  13. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    Sofa, you've come a long way!! A true inspiration.

    Ally, how have things been for you?
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  14. Sofa

    Sofa Well known member

    Thanks a LOT Free!! That compliment from you makes me happy! How are you doing by the way?

    Ally- what does it feel like when your back "goes out"? I've of course heard the phrase but don't know if it's a nerve, or a muscle, or structural, etc.? My pain is just constant everpresent tension and even hits my jewels which is... unfortunate! But my back doesn't really give out, or anything like that. I do believe TMS would cause that but Free, or Lizzy, or Bloodmoon could probably guide you better. I wish you the best!

    Posture is pretty important! I read from your original post that you were bending over to get your baby when your back went out. Maybe work on your technique? I do that as well.
  15. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    That is awesome! ❤️❤️
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  16. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    Thank you for checking on me :)

    I’ve been making progress this week. I’ve had 2 days in a row where I’ve been fairly active and minimal pain which is huge for me. I’m currently in a bit of pain, but I think it’s due to my kids being home for thanksgiving break and they’ve been fighting (like 10, 8, and 6 year olds do!).

    I had a pretty profound breakthrough 2 days ago. I was in the car driving home and began to think about some very complicated family issues from the past—and wouldn’t you know it, my back began to ache something terrible! I decided to just express all of my anger out loud since I was alone. I came home in tears, but was about 85% better by the time I parked the car! I talked the rest of it out with my husband and spent the rest of the day about 95% pain free, which I haven’t done in years.

    I know that Dr Sarno said that many people healed just by reading his books, but knowing my skepticism in all things, I figured I wouldn’t be an overnight success myself. And that’s ok. Any reduction in pain is encouraging at this point.
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  17. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    I totally understand the ever present tension. That’s what I’ve had for 10 years. But when it goes out, it’s basically an intense muscle spasm that drops you to the floor. At times it’s felt like my back was “unzipped”, at other times like a sharp pain...the first time it went out was when I picked up my baby, but every time after that it has been doing something silly...reaching for a towel, grabbing a glass off the counter, turning around to answer when someone called my name. Nothing that should cause such an intense pain!! When it goes out, I’m basically incapacitated, forced to lay down and not move, sometimes for a few days. The recover is full of pain, tears, and family that has to swoop in to help cook, clean, and take care of the kids. I’m left feeling vulnerable, useless, and in debt to my mom and husband who take over for me while I lay in pain.

    I don’t wish it on my worst enemy.
  18. Sofa

    Sofa Well known member

    Wow, you're having to deal a lot, and thats stressful. I imagine you've tried pilates and whatnot? I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud what might help.. Might it be a pinched nerve or some muscle getting crimped when you move into a certain position? Is there any commonality at all to what preceeds the spasm?
    You don't have to answer me; I'm sure you've already thought about these things...
    Seems like it's probably TMS based on your breakthrough!!
    AllyC likes this.
  19. AllyC

    AllyC New Member

    Over the years I’ve tried it all! Pilates, yoga, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage therapy, otc pain meds, ice/heat packs, Epsom salts, meditation, topical creams, CBD... anything short of MRI/X-ray as my insurance won’t cover it.

    There’s nothing in common preceding my back going out, except every day life stresses. But if I look at the bigger picture, I have been stuffing down my emotions/stress for MANY years, so it makes sense that after a move across country, lack of financial stability, moving back with my parents, then add on a 3 kids, buying a house, opening 4 businesses..... I can see the compounding effects!

    I’m going to keep chipping away at the emotional work, start with some walking (beyond my physical therapy), and move forward!

    The fear of exercise goes alllllll the way back to my first asthma attack at age 3 (after being locked inside a house on fire by my older sister), so it’s a real mental hurdle for me.
  20. Sofa

    Sofa Well known member

    Yes, this seems more and more like TMS considering that you've tried it all. I tried CBD and also MMJ but neither really did much. The MMJ actually makes me super creative but also a bit anxious and way too introspective, lol.
    Over the years I tried all of the other things you mentioned as well.
    I have a hunch that what Free said earlier is true.....anxiety is the root cause of our problems. I believe anxiety causes mental tension and that can manifest into physical symptoms. That's the mind body TMS connection at work!
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