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I just talked myself out of a back spasm. Mind. Blown. (in pain? pls read)

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by avik, May 27, 2017.

  1. avik

    avik Well known member

    I am writing this post in the hopes that anyone who is reading this who is in pain, can see first hand that it is possible to "think psychologically"...to the point where YOU control how and when your pain, subsides.

    Ill try to keep this brief:

    Been dealing with this TMS stuff for 20+ years and have had incredible success over the past 5 years with dealing with 90% of its iterations/equivalents. When I say I have experienced every equivalent and then some, I am not exaggerating. From every muscle spasm you can imagine, to losing the use of one my legs, hearing in one ear, all sorts of random skins issues, digestive issues...blah, blah, blah...and the list goes on, ad nauseum.

    Of all of the above, no TMS iteration has been a bigger pain in my ass than muscle spasms. I'm talking, out of the clear blue sky, debilitating, knife in my neck/back/buttocks...that puts me out of the game for a good week. I'm talking laying on my couch, having downed muscle relaxers and painkillers, not moving a millimeter in the fear of aggravating the sharpest pain(s) I have ever experienced. Good Lord, I hate muscle spasms...

    Anywho, a couple of years ago when a neck spasm hit from out of nowhere, I decided for the first time in my long and illustrious TMS career to do the opposite of what I usually do. What I usually do is: a) freak the F*ck out b) panic c) think I did irreparable damage d) baby , massage and "treat" the site of the spasm e) plan how I am going to deal with the upcoming next 5-7 days of misery(in that order)-

    By doing the opposite, I mean I:
    1. Stopped what I was doing and just relaxed my whole body
    2. Thought to myself, "what could be bothering me right now"
    3. Told myself that I would not accept any pain and that I didn't need pain to divert my attention away from my emotions/thoughts
    4. That I will accept what is happening to me
    5. That I will NOT FEAR what is happening
    6. I will go on doing whatever the hell I was doing
    This is generally what I do with any TMS pain however, here's what I've learned makes all the difference with muscle spasms:

    Don't stretch, rub, massage, press or even touch the site of the pain!

    Trust me, I realize how difficult it not to touch the site of the pain but I am convinced that giving that muscle any attention in the moments following the onset of the spasm is what seals the deal...and confirms to your brain that the TMS spasm is working.

    That time years ago when I had that neck spasm? Oh I quickly grabbed my neck but then forced myself to just leave it alone and go one with what I was doing. No lies here, I was TERRIFIED but I focused on my breathing, positive thoughts and overall relaxation and the neck spasm dissipated over the course of the following two hours. This was a revelation to me.

    Now, jump forward to two nights ago and I'm at my birthday dinner with a whole bunch of close friends. One of the topics of convo that pops us happens to have been started by two girlfriends of mine (who had just met at this dinner) and they are talking about the back spasms that they experienced this year and how they are now approaching their pains differently, after having read Sarno (introduced to them by yours truly).
    I overhear the convo, jump in and randomly say "you know, I've had all sorts of spasms in my life but for some reason (thankfully) very few back spasms (kiss of death?). I go on to explain to them that I am and have been dealing with some chronic shoulder issues (that I know is TMS as well) and that I think it will soon completely go away.

    I go to the gym this morning thinking to myself "holy shit, my shoulder isn't bothering me and I can wait to throw around some heavy weights!". That said, there was a part of me thinking "hmmm...I wonder where TMS will pop up next...".

    So, it's leg day today, and I'm squatting...and BOOM...mid rep, lower back spasm, right by the coccyx bone. Super sharp pain, immobilized, panicked...already thinking my weekend is toast.


    So, I reach around to my back prepared to dig my fingers into the spot where the pain is emanating from and I quickly stop myself-
    I decide to myself in real time "NO. No confirming this pain by "treating/rubbing/massaging" this spasm".
    Terrified (as per usual), I simply grab my stuff and head to the locker room.
    As I do so, I am in a trance...talking to myself...saying "its ok, its TMS, you KNOW its TMS...because TMS is effective but QUITE STUPID...and I will not fear it, I will not give it the attention it so desperately wants and needs...and I am going to go about my day...in pain, if need be. What the worst that happens, the muscle spasms more? BIG DEAL. I will not be scared".

    I walk downstairs from the gym and deliberately do not take a cab home. This gives me time to reflect on my mode of thinking...to relax...to breathe and remain present...and to NOT touch it. Its also me convincing myself I can walk home...

    It's now 3 hours later and I can tell you, the pain has subsided by about 90 percent. It's quite amazing.
    The muscle is still in spasm and there's some pain there but I WILL NOT RUB IT. This will NOT turn into a multi-day affair of me laying on my couch feeling sorry for myself.
    I wish I could do some psych testing on this theory-but I know it's the touching, the pressing, the physical playing around with the area of the spasm that I am convinced confirms the pain and efficacy of the spasm. It is critical in the first 20 minutes or so of a "pain attack" that you just leave it be...no matter how much you want to baby yourself and try to make it feel better.

    *Guys-I am not a doctor...so obviously if you think you've done some serious damage to yourself, then go see a medical professional immediately.

    However, if you know its TMS...if you know this is something you've "seen" before...try the above. Remind yourself to "think psychologically"...that the "pain is the emotion"...and that paradoxically, YOU have the most control, when you aren't trying to take control. I find the key to being all about accepting the situation and not fighting.

    Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and pain-free Holiday Weekend.

    Last edited: May 28, 2017
    Cap'n Spanky, Balsa11, Dario3 and 9 others like this.
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Excellent TMS wisdom! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
  3. Hikerguy

    Hikerguy New Member

    Great words to take to heart. I have battled TMS symptoms off and on for 20 yrs and you are correct there is nothing like the muscle spasm. I have been battling a small flare up "back spasm" myself over the past week, and literally have about lost my mind.
  4. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    Beautifully written!! I too had something similar happen when I started a full-time job last week. I have shoulder issues too, btw, and horrible spasms, (rib, chest-wall shoulder, back, sometimes, hip) but ended up typing 40 hours this week, with hardly any pain - until yesterday, when a deadline was looming. Told the spasms, in essence, to shut up and then thought about the stressors. (Mom coming to stay for 3 weeks, huge deadline, daughter moved back home for the summer, son & DIL struggling fiancially and emotionally/mentally, and on and on)

    I felt my feelings and calmed myself, then got up and went shopping, did dishes, vacuumed, walked a mile, and made dinner. My reward? Going to see Pirates 5 tonight!!! :cool:

    We got this!!!
    Balsa11 and avik like this.
  5. Betsy4ever

    Betsy4ever New Member

    Avik you wrote it pretty well, thanks for sharing experiences.
  6. avik

    avik Well known member

    Sorry to hear that. been there so many times I don't care to count.
    All I can say is don't try to make it go away.
    I know easier said than done but, the more you focus on it, the power you give it.

    The mentality that you simply do not care, will shorten the duration of the spasm and actually prevent others from popping up in the future.
    Wendyc and Jules like this.
  7. nick

    nick New Member

    hi avirk,

    i have the same experience like you. If I rub or touch the pain, it will get worse. Honestly, Im obsessed about ... it is the first i do, when i feel pain. Last week I was on holiday and became a big flare up ...it was hard ... but then I said to myself: its ok, pain you can stay ... and i really felt it. I do t rub it, I dont put ice or heat on it and the pain went away for 8 days ... sometimes the pain/brain tried it a little bit and i thought/ felt its ok, you can stay and did whatever I did and I forgot it too ... I also think like you, dont fight ...acceptance is the key ... thats hard but it works ;)
    Balsa11 and avik like this.
  8. avik

    avik Well known member

    Amen Nick!
  9. miorno

    miorno New Member

    Thank you for your post avik. My back has been in spasm for the past 5 days. For me it is worse than childbirth. I am going to take your advice to heart and just let it be and not fight it anymore. There's light at the end of the tunnel!
  10. avik

    avik Well known member

    Miorno-a couple of pointers if I may:

    Letting it be is key but most importantly...DONT TOUCH IT. DONT RUB IT.
    Every time you yo want to rub your back with your own hand just remind yourself that you are confirming to your brain that your attention is being diverted.
    Do not let your attention be diverted.
    I know how hard that is trust me...but try your best to keep your attention on other things. Anything other than your pain, which IS your emotion.

    It will eventually "release".
    Balsa11 likes this.
  11. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    Loved this!
    And yet I still love my ice packs and heating pad, massage and nurturing acts... while I tell myself to just feel the frigging anger or grief!
    But then, I just love touch.
    For me, it doesn't seal the pain. I can see with the spasms that it could. I have real pain at times from intense exercise or exertion... and stay away from a story about it.
    It's always gone within two days, as muscle pain passes away without attaching to a story of "I blew out my hamstring or quad...". No more stories is a good motto for me.

    Hurrah for recovery!
    Balsa11 likes this.
  12. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    This is awesome! The first thing I do is rub, poke, prod the area. I tend to get smaller spasms, right now my pecs and shoulders have been bothering me a lot and I've been feeling sorry for myself and massaging as best I can. I'm going to try to break the habit and see how it goes.
    Balsa11 and Bodhigirl like this.
  13. Cara

    Cara Peer Supporter

    I agree! I think the thing about Sarno and the TMS community that saved my life is the knowledge that I don't need to panic when my back spasms. I didn't break it. I used to stop everything, worry, be more cautious next time, etc., until I was doing nothing--ever. Now if, in the middle of painting a room, doing yoga, riding my bike, my back spasms, I breathe a few times, tell myself it's TMS, and tell myself I don't need to be afraid. If I'm running, I walk home, as you did. Sometimes, I can calm it down in under a minute. Sometimes it lingers some the rest of the day. But that next day, I go back to the thing I was doing and try again. It's the opposite of what I used to do: adding that activity to the list of things I couldn't do. Now I add it to the list of the things I'm learning how to do again.
    Balsa11 and Bodhigirl like this.
  14. Wendyc

    Wendyc Peer Supporter

    Agh, those chest wall ones are killer, I just had one at work out of nowhere I started rubbing it to confirm its a muscle not something else when I stood up I can feel the muscles in my stomach freaking out too. This weekend it was my shoulder which hasn't bothered me recently until now because I'm in the middle of moving and I'm so stressed about my situation. Definitely I need to go back to what this thread says and not touch, it did work for me before.
  15. Wendyc

    Wendyc Peer Supporter

    So glad I found this post, It helps to know that others get spasms.. I think mine are mild but they tend to get me in areas that freak me the hell out like my chest and stomach. The other day it went from shoulder to chest to stomach to my foot! As I read the above I realized how tense I had my shoulders when you said you relax I did and my shoulders just dropped.. it's crazy that we don't even realize how tense we have our body sometimes. I'm not going to acknowledge the pain but I will acknowledge it's TMS.
  16. Zuz

    Zuz Peer Supporter

    Wow. I have been having these crazy back spams every 5-6 months for 21 years.
    This last one I tried to tell my self all is ok it’s tms and it got so worse i was fainting from pain :(. So no choice then to lie down and take pills. My brain just got waaayyy more afraid than was before :(. It will take time foe me to go over it, I am really not brave. i inow the problem is that I am not sure it is entirely tms and not a part structural :/. I dream of seeing a physician who would know.

    i will try to work very hard at the onset of the next one. I think once it really spasmes it’s too late.

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