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For Sufferers of Chronic, Recurrent, or Unexplained Pain

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For Sufferers of Chronic, Recurrent, or Unexplained Pain

Old 08-23-13, 02:24 PM
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For Sufferers of Chronic, Recurrent, or Unexplained Pain

What follows is an important account of how I've beat my chronic runner's knee - once and for all.

As some of you may recall, I'd been battling seemingly unexplained runner's knee/tendonopathy for about a year and a half, which kept me from running, rock climbing, jumping, hiking, and minimized cycling, golf, skiing and pretty much everything else that I enjoy. The pain would predictably surface with increased physical activity and became problematic in both knees. When I'd reduce activity, the pain would subside after some time (days to several weeks). I became quite angry and depressed due to my injuries and the fact that I lost all of my stress-reducing activities.

After about a year of this, I had X-rays and and MRI, both of which were negative for any structural damage whatsoever. My pain was then attributed to anterior pelvic tilt, a biomechanical issue that was causing pain in my knees due to "poor tracking". I accepted this diagnosis, began treating it through exercise, and had some improvement, but still frequent recurrences of pain of varying intensity.

Three weeks ago, after taking about 10 days off running due to pain, I was introduced to something called Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). I will not go into the details here, as there's not enough time or room in a single post for me to do so.

The cliff-notes version is something like this: Many chronic pain conditions are not due to any physical reason at all, but rather to stress-induced tension that manifests itself as pain in soft tissue. Sometimes the pain may have originally been attributed to a "real" injury, but not always. The pain becomes a conditioned response to activity that has produced pain before, and will resurface largely due to the fact that we expect it too. An "alternative" diagnosis to be sure. This hypothesis was originally presented by Dr. John Sarno, the author of Healing Back Pain, The Mind-Body Connection. Turns out I had this book sitting unread on my bookshelf for the last 10 years.

As I began reading about the condition, I was originally skeptical that there could be a psychological basis for all of this pain I'd put up with for so long, but the more I read, the more I recognized myself in Dr. Sarno's description of his patients. Dr. Sarno asserts that the pain response is a "trick" that the human mind has evolved, that distracts you from other troubling things in your emotional life (work stress, family stress, financial, and on and on). Whoa - kinda weird, but okay...4 "traditional" doctors had failed to provide a better explanation, so I said "F___ it. This seems legit, so I have to truly give this diagnosis a chance, I mean really believe that the pain that kept me from doing everything I loved to do was all psychologically based." It was easy for me to do, as I had proof that there was nothing structurally wrong with me (this is important).

Now, 3 weeks later, I'm mostly pain-free simply by changing my attitude towards the pain, and truly accepting the fact that my body is way stronger than I'd ever given credit. I'm running, sprinting, climbing, backpacking, cycling, jumping, etc, etc, etc - all without pain. When I do have a little pain, I can literally stop it mid-run within seconds by telling myself "you're fine" this is a mind game.

Only 3 weeks ago, the acute pain was very real and disabling, now it's gone. GONE. My first day after accepting TMS as the cause of my pain, I began walking with no pain, the second day I ran with limited pain, the third day I rode my bike and climbed with very little pain. This week, I've gone on 3 pain-free runs, and have had 4 of the best climbing sessions I've ever had. No more pain. I know there will be relapses if I let doubt or tension sink in, but I know 100% for a fact that I will "wish" the pain away by telling my brain that it's cover is blown, and that this is not a trick that it can use any more. I began thinking PSYCHOLOGICALLY, NOT PHYSICALLY. Yes, I've only been pain-free for three weeks, but I've not had more than 3 consecutive pain-free DAYS in almost 2 years.

This is getting long-winded so I will wrap it up here: I know that there are many here, and many millions worldwide that suffer with seemingly unexplained, but very real chronic pain. I know that most of these people will never accept such a strange-sounding diagnosis, but I have to share my experience hoping that I can at least help a few address the true cause of their chronic pain by suggesting you at least give this a chance and truly believe that your pain is nothing but a learned response. First, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any major injury. If you're diagnosed with patelofemoral pain syndrome, tendonopathy, or any other pain syndrome or symptom without a dangerous structural basis, there's a very good chance you can beat this MENTALLY. Call this crazy but only after you've given it a chance.

Healing Back Pain by Dr. Sarno.

Last edited by humboldt'sroads; 08-23-13 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 08-23-13, 02:57 PM
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When climbing hard on the bike, I can always at least make the muscle pain subside by simply smiling. I understand that smiling releases a pain suppressing hormone, but still . . . I don't doubt the mind-body connection.
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