I had been suffering from RSI for 3 years, the last year and a half of which to a pretty debilitating level. Having exhausted every single medical outlet and after having talked to probably over 2 dozen various medical professionals it was pretty clear that there was no medical cure for my symptoms. And so, I thought I’d look around the internet for any non-mainstream approaches.
One name and one book kept appearing on my searches “Dr Sarno’s Mindbody Prescription” which sought to address a catch-all condition described as TMS. I was impressed by the numerous (and apparently genuine) testimonials from a wide variety of people who were adamant that following the recommendations in The Mindbody Prescription had led to a reduction and in many cases a complete cure of their symptoms, including RSI. Now, I have to say my expectations were pretty low, but a £5 second hand book from Amazon I figured was worth a shot in the dark.
And, to cut a long story short (the long story will be filled in below!) it seems to have worked. How, why and by what mechanism I don’t entirely know, but I’m currently typing this by hand, when I hadn’t typed anything at all for over a year and a half without using voice recognition software. I wouldn’t have believed it if it hadn’t happened to me. But it has. And whatever the reason it seems worth further consideration.
There was quite a bit of stress going on in my life at the time of the initial onset of symptoms, I would be spending about 16 hours plus (pretty much every waking hour) either playing the guitar or on the computer. I’d also got somewhat addicted to Internet poker, so a typical day would be eight hours at work on the computer, come home, switch on the computer, play pretty much continuously until past midnight, then go to bed. My ergonomic set up was pretty much non-existent, a stretched arm with a bent wrist making tens of thousands of clicks every day. I had just decided to take a computer course qualification when I first got a tingling sensation in my right hand. It was suddenly uncomfortable to click on the mouse, indeed even uncomfortable to hear the sound of it clicking (a bit like hearing nails on a blackboard). I could type but anything more than about 30 minutes at one stretch would lead to short-term aching in both hands and wrists.
This continued for about 12 months before a completely sudden deterioration of the condition. I had some reports to type and as result was pushing my body through the aching from typing too much. Suddenly it felt as though something had just “gone”. Both hands were completely inflamed, as though from really severe pins and needles. From that moment on I was unable to type at all or even write a couple of sentences without going flares up of pain often lasting an hour or more.
Since then there had been a gradual deterioration in symptoms. Persistent levels of pain in both elbows, occasional pain in both Achilles heels, a consistent level of low-level pins and needles in both hands and wrists. I found that going swimming brought on symptoms in a completely different way. Unlike typing or writing which would bring on symptoms instantaneously, I felt fine immediately after the swim, and yet over the next few hours both elbows became more and more inflamed. To the extent that by the evening I was unable to sleep due to the pain.
After reading “It’s not carpal tunnel syndrome” I started to try some of the stretches recommended, though this seemed to make things even worse. I started waking up with the whole of my arm numb from the elbow down to my fingers, and with numbness and grip strength severely diminished continuing throughout the day. Thankfully this has only happened a few times
Then after three years since the onset of initial symptoms, and over a year and a half after they significantly deteriorated, I bought a copy of Dr Sarno’s “The Mindbody prescription”.
Within even a day of reading the book was doing things that previously I hadn’t done for months/years, and noticing that there wasn’t as much pain associated with them.
Three weeks on I could;
Play the guitar with no pain
Write about 600 words with no pain
Type about 600 words with no more than mild tingling
Play badminton, go swimming, go running – all with no pain.
This for me was absolutely incredible – I had about 90% of my life back.
Three months on, the symptoms have continued to get better. I have stopped using any voice recognition software, I can play guitar and piano for as long as I want, I can write full essays, and can even do computer design – like this website.
Prior medical contact:
In terms of medical professionals, i’ve pretty much collected the full set:
6 different GPs
1 hospital doctor
2 occupational health professionals
A few nurses
3 different “Access to Work” disability professionals
2 MRI scans; brain and neck
2 courses of phsyio
steriod injections in both wrists
chest x ray
nerve conduction studies
1) this is just post-hoc attributation – just because your symptoms improved after you read the book, doesn’t mean it was because of the book. True, there is that chance, but after 3 years in which there was nothing but a gradual deterioration of symptoms, to have such a dramatic turnaround literally within hours of reading this book is statistically unlikely to say the least.
2) Yes you improved, but it’s self selecting – ie. You chose to buy the book, that in itself implies that you already recognised/accepted the key psychosomatic tenet. True, this is simply a one person anecdote, not a clinical trial.
3) This is just the placebo effect. Unlikely, given the numerous other “treatments” I’ve had along the way – all given through the NHS, and all singularly failing to provide any relief in symptoms despite my great hopes.
4) Ok, your recovery after reading the book was down to chance, let’s say 1000-1, but the other 999 people who also read the book and failed to get better aren’t posting about it right now – they’ve simply moved on somewhat disappointed to another “cure”. A fair point, one that can only be rebutted through clinical trials. Which brings me on to….
5) Where’s the medical evidence? It’s by no means conclusive, but read the “medical evidence” section.
I’m not claiming to have found proof of a magic cure for RSI, and obviously people need to be thoroughly tested to rule out any serious underlying structural health problem. But, for people like me who have gone through the entire gamut of medical treatments, who have seen countless specialists over a number of years, and who have had absolutely no success, I think its worth considering. A second hand copy of Dr Sarno’s book set me back £5, and yet it has completely changed my life. Indeed, I would have happily paid £20,000 for a magic potion which could have taken me from where I was 3 weeks ago to where I am now, which in terms of expected value calculations puts the required success rates at only 4000-1. In short a long shot that might be worth investigating further, and indeed raising with patients with similar problems to my own.