Carolyn’s Story

(This story was originally posted  here.  For a much more comprehensive list of success stories, visit the TMSwiki for hundreds of success stories for numerous conditions).

Hi everyone, I’ve been feeling great for a long time but I told myself that I would wait until Christmas to post (just to make sure it was long lasting relief). Here is my story and I made it detailed for the benefit of others with RSI type pain:

I started a new job in August ’06 and it was a big change for me. It was my fist office job and it was very stressful. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and to impress the bosses, etc. I started having hand pain in Nov ’06 just when the office was being reorganized. I got a new boss and my workload increased twofold. Plus, I was still in training and I had no one to go to with questions. This was all very frustrating to me, a perfectionist. My job involved reading about a lot of medical claims and a lot of mine had to do with repetitive strain: CTS and tendinitis type stuff. Now that I think back on it, I know that this new knowledge was planting the seed in me to develop the same problem.

I started having hand pain and opened a work comp claim in November and went to a occupational health clinic and started getting PT. I also realized that my desk and chair were very unergonomic and I had bad posture. Around this time I also started doing a lot of reading on the internet about RSI and I read about people that never got better and faced permanent disability. This really scared me and I began to have an obsession with my hands. In December I went to see a hand surgeon who did a cortisone injection on my left wrist which had no effect whatsoever.

This doctor was absolutely horrible and he was very rude to me and accused me of wanting to get off of work. He didn’t really find anything wrong with me though, just calling it tendinitis. He said that with rest and anti-inflammatories the pain would go away. Later I realized that doctors will call hand pain tendinitis when they don’t know what is wrong with you. Because this doctor would not give me any time off, I ended up quitting this job in Feb ’07 because I was so fearful of doing permanent damage to my hands. Also, by this time I was so far behind in my work load that there was no conceivable way for me to catch up without doing a lot of overtime which I was also afraid of doing.

When I was at home I would rest my hands constantly and be afraid to do anything. I had pain when I would use my hands for anything, unlike some people who just get pain while typing. I could not write, open jars, shake hands, chop veggies and most other activities of daily living. I had a lot of numbness and other nerve symptoms and began to have muscle atrophy. My lifelong hobby has been artwork and I used to love doing detailed drawings in pen and ink but I had to stop doing that entirely. Depression and obsession over my hands plagued me every day all day. I even had dreams related to my hand pain.

Around March ’07 I began to have pain in my ankles as well as my hips, knees, shoulders, knuckles and elbows. I could not walk without a limp. I started reading more on the internet and realized that I must have rheumatoid arthritis. The seed of this was planted when I started doing my original research and I read that RA could be a cause of thumb tenosynovitis. After waiting 2 months I saw a rheumatologist in June who did multiple blood tests on me and ruled me out for everything major. Mysteriously, the other joint pains disappeared except for my hand and thumb pain. Around this same time I also went on a radical diet avoiding all wheat, dairy and animal products.

In July ’07 I got married and moved away from my parents house. After this my pain started getting worse. Besides the pressures of being a newlywed, the relationship with my husband was strained because he was doing everything for me and the prospects of my hands ever getting better were looking worse and worse. I started seeing an osteopathic doctor who had me doing exercises for the thumbs and taking 5,000 mg of fish oil per day (very expensive).

After no luck with him, I joined the sorehand list and found the book It’s not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by Damany and Bellis. I thought this was the cure to my problem and I started seeing a physical therapist who did myofascial release and postural retraining work. I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome with median and ulnar nerve impingement. After seeing the PT for over a month and following all instructions religiously, she was puzzled that I was seeing minimal improvement and my pain was moving around to different locations. This is when I began to think it might be TMS. Around the time that I got married in July I read MBP but didn’t think it was me, even though it described my personality exactly and my family has a history of anxiety and psychosomatic ailments.

In Nov ’07 I began reading the TMS help forum and I tested myself by doing a lot of manual activities around the house. Surprisingly I didn’t get any worse and I was able to do more of the same the next day, despite the pain. In time, I began to see a correlation between stress and pain, not activity and pain. The pain began to lessen over the next few weeks through journaling and refusing to obsess over my hands. I stopped doing the PT stretches and read medical articles on the internet. I started doing artwork and cooking and housework. Recovery wasn’t a perfectly smooth road but in about 1 month I am now at the point where I am not afraid to do anything and I do not think about my hands all the time anymore. I might feel a twinge of pain when I am stressed out but it goes away as soon as I think about it and give myself the attention I deserve.

If you managed to read this whole post please take heart that your TMS pain can go away as well. I hope it gives you the confidence not to give up.

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