I am age 51 and a web developer. After 22 years in the computer business, I developed a general RSI in March 2005. I had started having numbness and tingling in fingertips and pain in fingers, hands, wrists, shoulders and neck. Almost overnight, the only time I wasn’t in pain became when I was lying motionless, flat on my back with my neck tilted slightly to the right.
My employer’s medical dept told me I’d probably never type again full time and actually SUGGESTED to me that I file workman’s comp. But having had a TMJ problem from 1985-1992 (which was resolved by neuromuscular treatment by a specialist, instead of the surgery recommended to me by one of this country’s most well thought-of superclinics) I ignored that advice. I continued working in spite of the pain, and immediately sought treatment (from the same specialist who helped me with my TMJ disorder back in 1992, who was fortunately still in business, though now only part-time). He was able to get the muscles in my neck and shoulders to unlock enough that I was able to get some relief and eventually restore good muscle tone. That, along with other improvements I made to the stress-filled, non-stop way I was living my life, allowed me to slowly improve over two years to the point I became pain free on most days. But I still was having to use ‘crutches’ for a lot of things–like using pillows under my arms when I would drive a car, like taking breaks from typing every half hour, and like not lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds.
During my recovery, I slowly gained an understanding from the specialist who treated me about why it is that good circulation and oxygenation is so important. He also talked about the effects of stress and chronic muscle tension. Toward the end of 2006, I started looking to understand WHY I was so prone to muscle tension in the first place. I eventually found one of Dr. Sarno’s books on the internet. Right away, it was obvious to me that I was a classic case of TMS.
Within one month of following Dr. Sarno’s program and journaling daily, I was able to stop using pillows when driving and I was able to lift virtually any heavy object I chose, without any symptoms afterward. I remember one particular evening at home when I felt I’d won a huge battle within myself– after lifting around a 186-pound Tempurpedic bed with no pain/muscle tenseness afterward. At work, I was typing all day, with my only breaks being lunchtime and bathroom breaks–yet without ANY symptoms in my hands. And the tension in my arms/shoulders was eliminated most of the time. I was feeling 100% back to normal on a regular basis, and without using my ‘crutches’.
Since last winter I’ve had only one real setback–this past month when we had a real, live disaster-recovery situation at the office, requiring large amounts of overtime and stress on the part of myself and my co-workers. The past two weeks, I’ve had a little minor pain in my fingers on and off, minor shoulder aches, and some head tension. It bugs the heck out of me that I have to go back to journaling, reading the book, and applying it, but I’m doing it daily again now and I’m winning. One lesson I’ve learned from this is that as long as I’m in the computer business (in my heart of hearts, I want to retire from this field and get into something else that interests me) I need to keep journaling regularly, especially in times of stress. I need to remember to check myself regularly for muscle tension when it starts to occur, and when it does, to ask myself what’s really bothering me. Keep thinking psychological.
I think the thing that has meant the most to me about Dr. Sarno’s program is finally feeling that I have the weapons within MYSELF to be able to overcome the natural fears that come after once being diagnosed with an RSI.