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 Threw my back out! Rest or Think-Psychological?

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bagofwater Posted - 10/24/2010 : 15:48:14

Even though I've been successfully dealing with chronic back pain with TMS therapy for almost two years, I still occasionally "throw out" my back. These events can be discouraging, but I'm learning to work through them.

My question is, what is the consensus about how best to get through these events? I'm not sure if I should "keep it psychological" and not use any physical remedies OR if I should use conventional remedies, such as ice, ibuprofen, vicadin etc. to get me through the worst of it (today I can barely walk!) I know my issues are TMS related - I have a good TMS therapist and I think I have a handle on why I had the initial spasm. Will the use of physical remedies undermine my recovery? What is the best approach from a TMS perspective?

Last time I did this I soldiered through, trying to do everything as if my back was fine. The idea being, that the pain was TMS and not due to an injury. To treat the physical symptoms, so I thought, would set me back. The pain didn't seem to go away until I gave up and took it easy for a few days. So I'm wondering: Is only the spasm itself is caused by TMS or is the subsequent pain also a manifestation? Is the pain after the spasm still just mild oxygen depravation or should I consider it a conventional injury and treat it as such with ice and meds etc.

I'm wondering if it's possible to have that type of spasm (the kind where you're doing something simple and you "throw out" your back) and NOT have residual pain. Do people without TMS have them and then go about their day? If that's the case then my theory that the residual pain is a conventional injury would be wrong and both the spasm event AND the subsequent pain are TMS.

Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
bagofwater Posted - 10/24/2017 : 19:23:57
Yes, it can be tough to overlook info from trusted sources, like a trainer. Even the fraction of chance that he's correct can undermine one's resolve. That said yogaluz, you have TMS :)

"This is all to say that I believe relapses will occur for most of us, even if we've had success in the past. "

I hope that's not the case with me. I'm finding diminishing returns from the introspection I get when experiencing relapses. Also, the existence of people who receive book-cures - that is those that read HBP and never relapse - makes me think it's possible to train ourselves to stop falling for the deception once and for all. If not forever, at least to very-infrequently. [remember, anyone who was book-cured is unlikely to seek advice on a forum. why would they?]

Since last November my relapses have become more frequent. The one's I've been getting recently (and experiencing currently) hit me out of the blue like a pain-level 11 shock from a cattle prod. It subsides to a level 5 immediately but I need a few days to get back to 0. This KEEPS happening. It's equal parts boring, painful and frustrating. weird aspect of these recent cattle prod attacks is that they each have come just before I'm about to extend my back to, say, tie my shoe. Not during the stretch mind you, but just before. The 1st time it happened I said 'this is ridiculous' and ignored and went to tie my shoe again and again I got zapped. WTF? I'm not aware of any past shoe-tieing trauma that would trigger such a response from my subconscious!

Btw, re my OP, I did have a consultation with a therapist at Dr. Gordon's clinic back in November. His response to my question"Is only the spasm itself is caused by TMS or is the subsequent pain also a manifestation?" was that both are manifestations of TMS.
yogaluz Posted - 10/22/2017 : 09:15:31
Hi there,

I'm so grateful for the timing of your post (though of course I'm sorry you're in pain). I just suffered a lower back pain relapse after being relatively pain free for 3-4 years. I'm actively tapping into my anxieties and rage and there's plenty in the tank, believe me. Sadly, I have this niggling thought about structural issues. I recently started working out, lifting weights, seeing a trainer after three years of relative inactivity due to being trapped in a horrible job with an abusive boss. I had just started feeling stronger and fitter when bam, my lower back seized up. There's a very "nervy" element to the pain but I do know I've experienced this before so am not overly alarmed by it. BUT, my trainer told me that when you start exercising rigorously, your muscles release certain chemicals that cause the fascia to adhere to the muscle which can cause pulling across nerves and pain. I know this is TMS but damn, that little seed got planted and now I think I'm going to have to spend the next few weeks reading HBP to get it out of my mind.

This is all to say that I believe relapses will occur for most of us, even if we've had success in the past. Though I have moments of fear and discouragement, I'm actually somewhat grateful for this episode. It's caused me to dig deep into some life issues that I've been coping with for years by "treading water." Sort of surviving instead of living and I know that needs to stop. The actions I must take are going to be painful and if my back wasn't in pain, I would still be avoiding them and slipping further and further into apathy.

Are there any issues you're dealing with that will require major life changes? Or perhaps things you're unhappy with that you have no control over? And of course, we're living in uncertain times which can contribute. I decided to take a (modified) news fast for a while to try to calm my nervous system down. It helped.

I hope you find relief soon and know that you're not alone out there in relapse city.

pain is inevitable, suffering optional
bagofwater Posted - 08/15/2017 : 12:42:07
^ A good point! Thanks for the reminder.
Dave Posted - 08/15/2017 : 09:41:36
Originally posted by bagofwater

No doubt his death added to the reservoir, but of course I have lots going on in my life. I've never been a particularly happy person in general. In fact I'm starting to think I'm borderline depressive. Though I've never seen any evidence that suggests it, that state (this state) can't be all that conducive to a full TMS recovery.

The state is another symptom.
bagofwater Posted - 08/14/2017 : 13:33:53
No doubt his death added to the reservoir, but of course I have lots going on in my life. I've never been a particularly happy person in general. In fact I'm starting to think I'm borderline depressive. Though I've never seen any evidence that suggests it, that state (this state) can't be all that conducive to a full TMS recovery.
altherunner Posted - 08/13/2017 : 21:47:22
I wonder if Dr. Sarno's death could be it. Death I believe is #1 on the stressors list.
bagofwater Posted - 08/13/2017 : 16:44:13
And just 6 weeks later another lower back pain relapse. Not as bad as the last, but still damn annoying. Unlike the last two, that came on gradually, this one came as a jolt as I sat and simply tied my shoe! And then another jolt a few moments later. I'm not sure exactly what triggering these relapses, but I'm starting to realize how much the news and the outside world rattles my subconscious. This one coincides with the threat of nuclear and Nazis marching on US soil. The last one with the death of Dr. Sarno. The one last year with the presidential election. These of course are traumatic events, but not ones that you would necessarily associate with unconscious rage (seems like there's already plenty in my conscious state!)

At this point this 7 year thread (!) is basically a log of my TMS history. I'm always looking for input and ideas about why I'm a relapser/symptom imperative candidate. Are there any stories out there of relapsers finally figuring out how to completely put TMS to bed?
bagofwater Posted - 06/30/2017 : 18:00:44
I'm again in the midst of a lower back pain relapse just 8 months after my last one. The previous one before that was 7 years prior!

There's a real possibility that the death of Dr. Sarno last week was a major factor in what caused this relapse for me. I was sad when I saw the news, but not surprised or consciously traumatized. He was 93. We knew this was coming. But as I started journaling (which, unfortunately, I only think to do while I'm having pain) I realized how much of an influence he's had on my life, all the way down to a subconscious level. There's some great practitioners out there, but I realized that I don't trust ANY of them like I did Dr. Sarno! Letting myself grieve has helped a lot to get me out of this latest episode. ...add the fact that my own father is 90, and there you have some major subconscious feelings.

This episode isn't nearly as bad the one last November, but it's a total surprise that, like the last one, started gradually and took several hours to reach some rather bad pain levels.

As I lamented before, I wish there were more resources for relapsers. 80% of all the books available are dedicated convincing new comers that TMS is real, and discounting conventional medicine's approach. A book for TMSers would be nice....though woefully unprofitable probabl
tennis tom Posted - 11/29/2016 : 09:51:38
Here's the most recent post from the "SUCCESS STORIES" forum. I would recommend reading it as it likely holds true for those who have been cleared medically and want pursue the TMS path. There are almost a thousand posts there, I haven't read most of them but assume they are predominantly from those who have discovered TMS, been by this site and gone on to resuming normal functioning and activities.



Some of my favorite excerpts from _THE DIVIDED MIND_ :


"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." Author Unknown

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” – Plato

"Happy People Are Happy Putters." Frank Nobilo, Golf Analyst

"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." Mark Twain and Balto

"The hot-dog is the noblest of dogs; it feeds the hand that bites it." Dr. Laurence Johnston Peter

"...the human emotional system was not designed to endure the mental rigors of a tennis match." Dr. Allen Fox

"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise" - Thomas Gray

"All my friends in Los Angeles are the sensitive type. They all have like all the diseases like Chronic Fatigue, Epstien Barr, Fibromyalgia. Like all the diseases where the only symptoms seem to be you had a really crappy childhood and at the prospect of full time work ya feel kinda achy and tired."

Posted by Skizzik @ TMSHelp from comedian Maria Bamford

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthuisam."
Sir Winston Churchill


"If it ends with "itis" or "algia" or "syndrome" and doctors can't figure out what causes it, then it might be TMS." Dave the Mod



John Sarno, MD
400 E 34th St, New York, NY 10016
(212) 263-6035

Dr. Sarno is now retired, if you call this number you will be referred to his associate Dr. Rashbaum.

"...there are so many things little and big that are tms, I wouldn't have time to write about all of them": Told to icelikeaninja by Dr. Sarno

Here's the TMS practitioners list from the TMS Help Forum:

Here's a list of TMS practitioners from the TMS Wiki:

bagofwater Posted - 11/28/2016 : 15:22:30
I’m mainly self-diagnosed. I had X-rays and MRIs by a non-TMS doc in 2008 that showed nothing abnormal. A neurologist even suggested my pain was psychosomatic! It was just after that I discovered the books.

So, yes it's tough even if you are completely on board with concept of TMS as I am and as my relapse indicates.

I've been reviewing TMS stuff online. This video of Alan Gordon talking about accumulating "evidence" that your pain is from TMS might be helpful for you, if you haven't seen it (or even if you have):
wilcox2969 Posted - 11/28/2016 : 14:56:50
This is really off topic as far as relapses....but I have few questions...if you don't mind. When you first had issues with your back, what were you told by the docs? Did you get mri/x-rays done? As far as tms, I've been trying for 12 months to resolve what I have and it's been really tough to break through all of the symptoms and like you I have relapses, but I would say that I have only experienced about 70% relief in the last 12 months... I only ask about the condition of your body because believing in tms has been difficult because I'm not sure that is the only possibility outside of a known structural issue.

bagofwater Posted - 11/28/2016 : 13:02:33
Thanks TT.

I might try Steve Ozanich. I have his book and like it a lot. I also like Alan Gordon's audio blogs on the TMSWiki. Any one know if he does Skype consultation? His website is not clear.

The stress test ranks me at low to moderate risk. Nothing major is going on in my life yet I'm in the midst of a major TMS event. Clearly I don't know what's generating the pain. ...or, again, what generated it 9 days ago (i'm still unclear if my unconscious is generating pain or if it was a one time event that i'm recovering from). I the only one that's intimidated by the TMSWiki? Lot's of great info there but it's so massive. The forum is so sprawling it's difficult to get anything concise from it. The TMS Help Forum, while much smaller, is nice quiet place.
tennis tom Posted - 11/28/2016 : 07:51:06
For the causes of your TMS relapse look here:


For TMS coaching I would recommend:

There are many other TMS practitioners listed in at the top of this page in the "LINKS" and also at the TMS Wiki's "PRACTITIONERS" listings:


bagofwater Posted - 11/27/2016 : 23:44:28
Wow. Returning to this thread after almost exactly seven years! I've had lots of little TMS flare ups in all that time, but nothing like the relapse I'm experiencing right now.

I'd almost forgotten about this thread. My situation is nearly identical now: a flare up followed by a big scary, painful event with symptoms occurring in my lower back. After so long it's almost a nostalgic feeling! This one started 8 days ago. It's slowly diminishing but it's been tough. I'd forgotten how bad these can be. I'm again wondering if it's my unconscious that's generating the pain still (depriving oxygen to my low back) or if I'm nursing an actual injury. I've been doing all the steps for recovery (reading the books, journaling like crazy, going to psycho therapy) so it's extremely frustrating that it's so difficult to shake.

I started to take my own advice and, instead of avoiding the pain, leaning into it. That was working, but I think I went too fast too soon - I ran to catch a bus and got stopped after a few steps with major pain that stayed with me. It feels like I set myself back by a few days.

So my question now, is why do we relapse? I've been almost pain free for years and then boom! Unfortunately all the books out there primarily focus on making a case for TMS. Selling the concept. However, I'm completely on board. Have been for years. At least my conscious mind has. Why am I having so much trouble now? Are there any resources out there for relapsers?

Also, can anyone recommend a doctor or therapist that does phone consulting. My current therapist is open to TMS but is not a TMS therapist. Speaking to someone that knows the ins and outs of TMS might help me.

Back2-It Posted - 11/15/2010 : 13:38:39
Originally posted by bagofwater

It's still only been a few days, but I'm finding my somewhat new approach to my pain useful...

..."Avoiding" the physical pain is analogous to avoiding the emotional pain. The point is to "dismiss" and not give the pain anymore meaning than it deserves, not "avoid" it. Just as I'm leaning into my TMS pain, I need to lean into my emotional issues. They're far harder to pin down, but maybe they too will dissolve away with this approach.

I'm happy your new approach seems to be helping.

I, too, am just "being" with the pain. It's there. I do notice that there are moments that it is not, and my conscious brain calls me back to it.

I have done a lot of thinking about past and current stressors and have decided and acted on a few. I think this helps. I think it is the overall fear that has to be conquered: the fear of the physical discomfort, the fear of addressing emotional issues, and the fear of life in "What-If Land".

Anxiety has been such a shadow twin brother to me since I was a small kid. Just yesterday, I recalled how my parents had me breathe into a paper bag to stop me from hyperventilating. It caused me, the doc's theorized, to get sharp pains in my chest, that same chest and abdomen that is the lingering source of the trouble. That's from age six, the young roots of my anxiety that has grown with me, larger, stronger, more intense, since then.

I now have my daily "list" called, "What I would do if I weren't in pain." And I do it with the pain as part of getting back to all activities.

I'm thinking out loud on your topic, Bag, but I do think you are onto something.
bagofwater Posted - 11/15/2010 : 11:50:50
It's still only been a few days, but I'm finding my somewhat new approach to my pain useful.

I had been avoiding things that caused pain to get through this last attack. Not sitting for long periods, walking very carefully, not bending at the waist, hot showers, everything to minimize the pain to keep it out of mind so I could focus on the psychological. However once the pain had reached a tolerable level (not gone by any means, "endurable" as I define it) I began, with the phrase "since there is no structural damage, you can't further hurt anything by doing physical activity" in mind, to systematically NOT avoid the pain. To sort of lean into pain when it presented itself. The pain, as we all know, is simply the messenger. It's actually serving a very useful function by alerting us to emotional issues. My new approach is to not avoid the pain, but to thank and embrace, it for what it is. Now, every time I perceive tolerable pain I'm digging into it - adjust my sitting position to increase the pain, walk in a way that the (again, tolerable) pain is actually worse etc. all while reflecting on what message the pain is trying to communicate - and every time I've tried this so far the pain has run away to where I can not find it. Whenever I was getting up from a seated position I was getting major pain in my lower back. The natural instinct would be to hunch over to minimize the pain so you could dismiss it and reflect and focus more clearly on thinking psychological, but now if I lean-into the pain it dissolves away! Sometimes immediately, sometimes after a few steps.

Hard to say if this adjustment to my TMS approach will continue to bring benefits, but it strikes me as an interesting metaphor for TMS in general. "Avoiding" the physical pain is analogous to avoiding the emotional pain. The point is to "dismiss" and not give the pain anymore meaning than it deserves, not "avoid" it. Just as I'm leaning into my TMS pain, I need to lean into my emotional issues. They're far harder to pin down, but maybe they too will dissolve away with this approach.
bagofwater Posted - 11/12/2010 : 11:28:57
Thanks for all this!

Point taken Tom. "I threw my back out" is an inherited phrase from my fathers side of the family and needs to be discarded. An "acute emotional attack" is more accurate for sure. ….brings up an interesting point that how we deal, or don't deal with our emotions may be an inherited trait.

I'm finding the sentence "since there is no structural damage, you can't further hurt anything by doing physical activity" very useful. This is of course a basic TMS concept, but it's very difficult to accept. I've decided that if I can endure the pain I should endure the pain. It's only day-two of trying this approach, but it seems to be helping.

btw my main activity is just sitting. Before I found TMS I could only sit for 15 minutes before I had to stretch in order to avoid back pain. After TMS, for the last 3 years, I've been able to sit in any chair indefinitely without pain. With this latest emotional attack I find myself again getting a great deal of pain when I sit (actually the pain sets in when I get up from sitting) and worse, I am fearing sitting.
Forfeet Posted - 11/11/2010 : 13:49:15

I had some sciatica pain on and off for a couple/few months in the spring last year and then from the TMS reading, etc., and not worrying about it, it went away. It has come back recently, and for the most part, I am working as if it is not there (I work at a very physical retail job). I did take Tylenol last night but keep them to a minimum as with other pain meds.

I recognize I have a lot of stress in my life, which triggers it, but also try to see if some of my physical behavior may also contribute. For instance, the shoes I've been wearing have been different, and I recently started using a wedge pillow, prior to the recent symptoms. So while I'm not going to take drastic measures to deal with it as a physical symptom, I will make some minor adjustments in my footwear, sleep, etc. to see if they will lessen the symptoms. Like Tom says, relieve the pain but not obsess over the structural, but see a doctor if you feel the need.

I read in a chiropractor site recently, that most back pain resolves in few weeks on its own, so when it comes up, keeping that in mind helps me. I know personally that it is not comfortable to deal with, but when I stress over it, it only makes it worse for me. I try to recognize it will pass.
tennis tom Posted - 11/11/2010 : 09:47:53
Originally posted by bagofwater

I threw my back out once again !

I CAN resume physical activity, but it would be excruciating. Conceptually, at this point is physical activity really not dangerous for me? …any thoughts?

"I threw my back out once again !"

I would discard this terminology because it maintains the structural viewpoint. If it's TMS, then you need to be thinking psychologically and examining what is going on in your life. The Rahe-Holmes list below will help you pinpoint the emotional issues that are triggering your TMS event.

I have no way of knowing what your level of physical activity capability is so I can't advise specificly what activities you should pursue. I would say swimming is safe (if you don't drown that is) because it is non-weight-bearing.

According to TMS theory, since there is no structural damage, you can't further hurt anything by doing physical activity. My issue is my hip, I have found that after twenty minutes of walking my pain goes away.

So take a couple of Tylenol, (as I just did), and "soldier through". Then curl-up with a TMS book until the theory is firmly embedded in your mindbody. You need to recondition your thinking to believe your body is strong--it's the mind that gives up first. Keep plugging away.



Some of my favorite excerpts from _THE DIVIDED MIND_ :
Martina Posted - 11/11/2010 : 04:55:22
Hi there,
what about getting some help on a psychological level? I love the concept of making the mindbody connection and sometimes feel that clearing some childhood conditioning can be a huge help in understanding ones emotional and physical pain. Have you done anything in that direction? I can suggest NLP and Time Line Therapy(TM) to help with the clearing.

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