Here’s my story of my TMS-related nerve pain (neuropathic pain) and how I’ve recovered.
I suffered a lingual nerve injury after my wisdom teeth were extracted in April 2004. I was asleep during the surgery, as I was under general anesthetic. Immediately after the extraction, the right side of my tongue was numb. I bit on it repeatedly for days, and it was very painful. I hoped that the sensation would return, and thankfully it did about a month after the extraction. However, the sensation came back a little too well.
Unfortunately, the right side of my tongue became overly hypersensitive from that point on, and any slight touch to the tongue would feel very painful (allodynia).
The first couple of years after the surgery (up until 2006), I fought through the pain. I kept on believing that the pain would go away on its own. It hurt almost every time I talked, but I didn’t let it bother me because I thought the pain would go away in time. My oral surgeon told me that it could take up to 2 years for the nerve to heal itself. Suffice it to say, that after two years rolled by, my hope started to wither away and I couldn’t hold it together as well.
After two years, the pain began to take control of my life. I began to stop going out (for fear of talking) and spent much of my time being depressed and alone at home. The pain began to affect my job, my relationships with friends and family, and then my girlfriend left me early in 2008. Needless to say, this past couple of years have been my rock bottom.
During that time however, I began to search intensively for a way to find relief from my pain. I saw countless specialists (my family doctor for 20 visits, a pain management doctor for 8 visits, a neurologist, a second oral surgeon, an ENT doctor, two oral medicine specialists for 8 visits in total, a chiropractor practicing laser light therapy for 25 treatments, a psychologist specializing in pain management for 5 visits, a neuropsychiatrist for 3 visits, two acupuncturists for 25 treatments in total, and an osteopath). I also took tons of pills (Elavil, Doxepin, Effexor, Cymbalta, Lyrica, Neurontin, Topamax, Clonazepam and Tramadol). On top of that, I made sure to take Vitamin B-complex, B-12, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Omega 3. And just to be sure, I had my blood tested, a CT scan and an MRI. All my test results came back fine.
Let’s just say, my search for help was completely exhaustive. The troubling conclusion of my search was that I didn’t feel physically better. My tongue still felt awful.
I read Sarno’s “Mindbody Syndrome” a couple of months ago and the book and this forum have really helped me to recover. Looking back now however, I believe that sometime between April 2004 and today, my lingual nerve had somehow found a way to heal. The problem however, was that my mind had never done its part to get over the pain. My mind was still generating physical symptoms long after my nerve injury has run its course. I think I had gotten so conditioned to the pain every time I talked, that the act of talking would trigger real physical pain, regardless of whether there was a physical cause of it or not. I was also conditioned to feel pain whenever I was nervous or stressed.
I never wanted to believe that the pain was “all in my head”. I thought there was no way that I could have genuinely painful moments without there being something very wrong with me. But after reading this book, reviewing this forum, and discussing with my neuropsychiatrist about how my fear/anxiety could be generating my physically painful symptoms, I’ve begun to live my life as if I didn’t have the pain any more. And after telling myself over and over that I’m physically 100%, I’ve begun to slowly recondition myself to feel less pain. And although I’m not quite all the way there yet, I think I’m really close.