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Back pain and stiffness

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by patrickj, Sep 19, 2022.

  1. patrickj

    patrickj Well known member

    Hi all

    I’ve had chronic back pain for over 3 years. Over the last 6 - 8 weeks I’ve been in a really bad spell and I really can’t see any way of this improving.

    The pain flare up started when I went on a flight to a holiday in Cape Verde. The holiday wasn’t enjoyable for me because I was consumed with back, neck and shoulder pain. It is unusual because the pain is no longer completely lower back but is more mid back and my sides - my sides are so sore and I feel like I’ve been kicked in the ribs. I’m a side sleeper too which make it worse. The pain has spread up my back into my neck and now my neck so is unbelievably stiff and sore to touch and goes up into my head and causes weird pressure headaches and dizziness. I nearly passed out the other week when I all of a sudden had a shot of dizziness and ever since my head is all fuzzy.

    I wake up in pain every single day and have done for years. But this particular spell is the worst yet. I try to sleep on my back so as to not aggravate my sides but it’s almost impossible. I’ve tried stretching my back with yoga poses each morning and night as that has helped before.

    What should I do? I am getting no better at all. The pain is generally much worse in the morning when I wake up. If I go out for a walk or something I’m a bit better. My neck pain and weird fuzzy headaches are not improving and I’m trying not to panic.

    Can anybody help or offer some support?

  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Are you the one who said you didn't think you have TMS? Or having a hard time accepting? Sorry, but I can't keep track! What kind of TMS or related program have you worked?
  3. patrickj

    patrickj Well known member

    Possibly yes, I am definitely having a hard time accepting but I tick all the TMS boxes.

    I’ve another MRI booked for my back and another for my shoulder, both in approx 8 weeks. I had MRIs on both 2 years ago which showed no issues. My blood tests are clear too. All the doctors and health workers I’ve seen have been no help and have ran out of ideas.

    My back pain I’m pretty much sure is TMS but my shoulder pain feels so mechanical that I’m not convinced. This is because it cracks and clunks and is weak and unstable.

    thanks for replying!
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    You didn't answer the important question, though. What kind of TMS work have you done? You asked for help and support, right?
  5. patrickj

    patrickj Well known member

    All I have done is educate myself on the mind body connection.. I’m reading the John Sarno book Healing Back Pain and I have the Georgie Oldfield book. I’m also subscribed to the Curable app. No improvements as of yet…
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Okay, so here's the help and support you asked for:

    You gotta do the work.

    This is the only reasonable advice anyone can give you, given where you are at. You have three options:

    1. The Curable program built into the app (assuming that you have a paid subscription)

    2. The free Structured Educational Program on our main wiki.

    3. Alan Gordon's free Recovery Program here on the forum.

    Aim to complete three or four lessons per week. Do NOT do more than one in any day. Do NOT rush it. And DO NOT think you can skim through it without taking any risks. If you do the work with anything less than brutal self-honesty, you're just wasting your time.

    Our programs are free, and the SEP is an easy-to-follow program similar to Curable, but it hasn't been updated in a long time. Curable is professionally curated and updated.

    I can tell you that educating yourself only goes so far. Yes, *some* people experience the so-called book cure, but those people typically already have excellent body awareness and already believe strongly in the mindbody connection and in our ability to heal ourselves. Many also have experience in mindfulness and self-reflection practices.

    I myself was one of those people at age 60, and in fact I experienced a significant amount of immediate relief from some of my symptoms simply by reading The Divided Mind. However I had to commit to doing the emotional work to reach a level of recovery that, on average, I think is well over 80% relief, well over 80% of the time. And that's at age 71, looking back on eleven years as an aging senior since almost becoming housebound 2011 - which is when I thankfully discovered Dr Sarno and this forum and got my life back.

    In any case, here's the main thing to take away: you can't just keep asking for advice and support here and expect anything to change. You CAN give yourself a break if you understand that this is actually your TMS brain trying to fool you into thinking you're accomplishing something. The fact is that you are just spinning your wheels and remaining stuck - which is exactly where your fearful brain wants you to remain.

    You're probably completely unaware that your brain basically wants you to believe that if you just keep asking for help, eventually THE miraculous and simple answer will present itself, and all of your problems will be instantly solved.

    Of course, you know where we're going with this scenario, right? It's never going to happen because there is no such answer. If there were, we would all know it by now.

    The only path to recovery that will last is by doing the work.

    If you do make the commitment to work a program, be forewarned that your poor primitive brain will start to fight back with a vengeance - which means worse symptoms, new symptoms, and increased anxiety. Try to remember that this is normal, talk back to your brain, don't be manipulated, and be willing to fight back. And, once you're doing the work, THAT'S a great time to reach out for support and reassurance that this is progress. We are really here to support doing the work.

    Good luck,

    BruceMC, patrickj and rand like this.
  7. Bing Chen

    Bing Chen Newcomer

    In 2011, I started to experience serious neck pain and stiff neck. It became a chronic neck problem after a year. Tired of the time and money for therapy treatments, I have been researching for a possible home remedy, and found that my neck problem could be managed through some special exercise with a certain exercise device. When my neck pain occurs, I only need to do the exercise for 3 to 4 minutes and get instant relief.
    patrickj likes this.
  8. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    What I miss most in your description of the onset of your LBP during a vacation trip to Cape Verde, Patrick, is any description of the psychological context of your emotional environment before, during and after the trip. Just listing a bunch of TMS symptoms focuses on the structural without describing what Dr Sarno thought was essential to the whole TMS pain process: the psychological. Why did the trip stress you out? What was your mindset like before the pain began? What preceded and paralleled your symptoms? Good idea I would say to list those factors out in detail if you want to avoid such situations in the future. For example, after a very much pain-free morning and afternoon I did notice that my lower back pain started acting up toward evening when I became frustrated trying to get my Epson scanner to work. I dug and dug of course and finally found that Apple has not yet released a new 64-bit software package to run my scanner on the new Apple OS. Yes, I just bought a new 2020 iMac. But what I notice now is that this frustration was only amplified because I was trying to scan documents for my IRS/State remote tax session in a week a day before I have to go to a doctor appointment to see a doctor I can't personally stand. Unified emotional field theory! The scanner is not big deal except the larger emotional context in which it's occurring. Was your Cape Verde vacation like that too? TMS pain always contains emotional complexities that need to be examine intellectually to reach a successful resolution. Remember that old cartoon: "What's bothering you, Bunkie?!" Interesting too that my LBP has suddenly vanished when I figured out the answer to that question. Like a sort of TMS riddle!
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2023
  9. patrickj

    patrickj Well known member

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for replying.

    I’ve always said it’s very hard for me to pinpoint particular stressors or stressful events like other TMSers seem to. I am stressed ALL the time. Constant pain, housework, work, parenting, striving to succeed, arguing with wife, childhood trauma, hate my job, angry at my dad, angry at my mum, angry at my brother, no friends, mum with severe health issues etc etc

    I’d like to be one of those people who say “this thing stressed me out and I got this pain” but I’m not. My pain is constant and I’m always stressed.

    But if I try to describe my emotions at the time I would say. Stressed about pain. Stressed about parenting. Stressed about going on holidays which I don’t generally like. All the above stressors really. I should add that I had the same severe pain when we went on holiday to Gran Canaria in February.

    There was definitely some fear about the pain coming back. Because I blamed the plane seats and shitty holiday mattresses. Oh and the Cape Verde holiday was shit as well, I won’t be going back.

    Its been 8 months since that holiday and my back / sides haven’t improved ONE BIT. They’re exactly the same. Constant pain, but worse in the morning in bed.

    I’m seeing a SIRPA trained hypnotherapist in person on Friday. Finally spending some money to see somebody. Fingers crossed.
  10. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Maybe instead of focusing on and enumerating all your various stressors, you should try sending yourself consistent messages of safety and self-soothing? You already know about all the factors in your physical and emotional environment that are triggering the mammalian fright-flight-freeze response. Why not just relax and create a safe space where you can exist beyond the surging waves?
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  11. Sharada Devi

    Sharada Devi New Member

    Patrick, I'm so sorry that you are struggling. I don't mean to sound silly but, Just Breathe. The breath is the most powerful and direct way to calm the nervous system. It sounds like your nervous system is on fire right now. It's not called the breath of life for no reason friend, it makes all systems in your body work, a proper breath is in and out through your nose, slow, smooth, and easy. Sitting and breathing this way for 5 minutes 3 xs a day really reduces stress hormones in the body.

    Pay attention to the things from your past, memories ect that come to mind. Consider how they make you feel, it they feel stressful then this is your clue that there are the emotions around them you need to understand and process. Take every memory you have seriously. Find a tool that you can use that will help you resolve the stress around these memories. This is deep work and it's best if you have another person walking you through it. Let me know how this goes for you. Or ask me about tools to process these emotions.
    patrickj likes this.
  12. patrickj

    patrickj Well known member

    Bruce, you asked me what my psychological stressors were around the trip. And what my mindset was. I’m not “enumerating all my various stressors” - I’m answering your question.

    With all respect it sounds like you’re clutching at straws now by basically saying “relax and send messages of safety” - the TMS work isn’t working for me and my stressors are a million times worse than a scanner not working.
  13. patrickj

    patrickj Well known member

    Thanks, I appreciate your empathy. And the suggestions. I agree, I must admit I should find more time to breathe properly. My memories are unpleasant but I find my day to day life very stressful so I’m in constant fight or flight. I’m very stressed at home because I cannot get on top of things and so much to do.
    My nervous system has been on fire a long long time I think…

    I will message you if that’s ok?

    I recently just started with a SIRPA trained hypnotherapist who is very confident she can make my pain go away… time will tell

  14. Sharada Devi

    Sharada Devi New Member

    Hi Patrick,

    It's fine for you to message me. I'm very busy, and it may take a bit of time for me to respond. I use an number of NLP, and hypnosis techniques. I'm more inclined to say to my clients that I teach you tools you can use to get your brain to stop creating pain. I support my clients to realize they have all the power to change their life.

    "My memories are unpleasant but I find my day to day life very stressful so I’m in constant fight or flight" Do you mean memories are unpleasant AND I find my day to day life stressful?

    From my years of experience, and in complete agreement with Dr. Sarno and others, your memories if they are truly "unpleasant" are the source of your distress. I use a tool that disarms unpleasant memories by rewiring the brain in real time....no months of waiting for change. My friend in my 3 plus decades of training my brain to stop creating chronic pain I've learned what Dr. Sarno learned.....it's all about your emotions and your memories are the keys to getting to the emotions that need to me changed.

    Be kind and gentle with yourself.
  15. patrickj

    patrickj Well known member

    That’s interesting because I’ve not many many hypnotherapists in this space. I’ve had one session out of 6, so hopefully I get somewhere. She’s very confident.

    I meant AND I find my life very stressful. Im in a very vicious circle. I want to get things done but I can’t cos I’m so exhausted and in pain and then the circle repeats.

    I personally think it’s the present day stressors contributing most to my pain. Maybe the hypnosis will prove me wrong and it’s past trauma. Guess I’ll find out.

    thanks, I may be in touch
  16. Sharada Devi

    Sharada Devi New Member

    Keep up the good work friend. The brain is constantly consolidating our experiences to store them more efficiently and use them more efficiently. When pain is recalcitrant the way chronic pain is the key is often found in a group of older memories that contain difficult emotions. I my work I deal with both the memories and the emotions, you have to or it is difficult to create lasting changes. Keep working on taking better care of yourself. Honor your body and it's needs. If you don't get relief please reach out and I'll share more about the processes I used to transform my relationship with chronic pain. Actually, I ended my relationship with chronic.
    patrickj likes this.
  17. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    However, the stress of the scanner not working is nothing in and of itself except in the context of doing my IRS/State taxes and going to a doctor I can't stand over medicating me with hypertension drugs. The problem with the scanner draws in all the problems about my whole existence as a human being. I suspect your stresses about the vacation are existential like that too.
  18. Bonnard

    Bonnard Peer Supporter

    @patrickj : I'm sorry to hear that you're in this kind of situation. I can relate when I look back to the long list of stressors I had when my back pain first ramped up. I've got a few observations below that are based on what worked for me. Wishing you the best!

    This list has some real strength to it. That's a very long list of stressors--some really deep (i.e. childhood trauma) and some could be a pattern (i.e. anger at multiple family members). "Striving to succeed" is described by Sarno so well--that do-gooder personality he mentions.
    Having this long list written out is a good thing. But, you need to go way deeper with it.
    Breaking down one or two or three that are causing the most trouble today could be hugely beneficial. What's really behind them? Your brain needs to learn that you can feel these emotional pains and stressful life situations and you don't need the pain distraction.
    Keep in mind that you do not have to solve/eliminate/work through the stressors to become pain-free. What that did for me was give me a break--I didn't have to wait months or years for freedom from the pain. Because some of my stressors were just not going away in the short term.

    This is good! Get in touch with those million times worse stressors. Use them/mine them to get to being pain free.
    BruceMC and JanAtheCPA like this.

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