Stress….Dealing with it….

Dr. Sarno
Dr. Sarno

Ahhh, stress!  Good and bad, we all have our own “shit” and we all approach and deal with it differently.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve always carried my stress in a particular body part and felt the physical pain.  For instance when I was a teenager, I would get extremely nervous the night before I had to pitch a softball game.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep and my neck and shoulders would hurt so much that I always thought I pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve.  My biggest fear was not being able to perform.  The thing is, as soon as it was game time, the pain was gone!  Your mind will play tricks on you.  Once you realize the pain is being caused by stress, worries, PTSD etc….  You need to talk your way through the problem and sure enough, the pain will be gone.  I am not ruling out legitimate medical diagnosis, but a lot of times, what’s going on in the inside reveals itself on the outside.  Muscle spasms, especially in the back, are caused by stress.  They hurt like hell, but you can get a handle on it without needing back surgery or the quick fix of medication.

Truth be told, I am a Howard Stern fan.  I’ve been listening to his radio program since the mid 1990’s.  Being an Outside Sales Representative, you spend a lot of time driving. Therefore, that’s how a lot of Stern Show fans begin.  Anyhow, Howard would always talk about his struggles with sporadic bouts of back pain.  After years of being tested and scanned and being prescribed muscle relaxers and pain killers etc…  He discovered Dr. John Sarno and his approach to healing back pain through the mind-body connection.  I’ve had so many colleagues over the years that have had disc surgery, spent a ton of money on special seats for their vehicles, wrap their mid sections with a back brace while they work, you name it.  They use the excuse of driving so much that they constantly have back pain, have constant prescriptions for pain meds or pop ibuprofen like it’s going out of style.  The one thing I realized is that all of these individuals were never pain-free, even after surgery.  It was always a temporary fix.  The pain would always come back, sometimes worse and it was always a mystery, because there was never anything found on an MRI or CAT Scan, resembling a tear, or a strain of any kind. So, 8 years ago I experience severe muscle spasms in my lower back.  What was interesting is The spasms would move from once side to the other, then from my lower back to my upper back etc…  I could never pin point the location of the pain.  All I knew is, I couldn’t move and nothing stopped the pain.  I went to the Doctors nothing was found, so I was prescribed muscle relaxers which made me sick to my stomach, pain killers that didn’t work so I stopped taking them, physical therapy, chiropractor, acupuncture, massage therapy, etc…. I was told not to even attempt to run or exercise, pick up my children, take the stairs, drive, blah, blah, blah.  I was supposed to lie in bed and put my life on hold.  Anyhow, that’s when I ordered Dr. Sarno’s book, “Healing Back Pain”.  It changed me!  It made me a true believer in the mind-body connection and after following his approach to healing, the spasms and pain stopped.  I enjoy reading Dr. Sarno’s books and truly believe we have control over our own healing. It’s amazing the effects our subconscious has on our bodies.  We can put things on the back burner as much as we want, but eventually it will catch up to us.

A couple of weeks ago, out of no where I experienced lower back spasms.  So not realizing what could possibly be wrong, I grabbed my copy of “Healing Back Pain” and read a paragraph that describes me to a “T” of how I deal with stress: 

Healing Back Pain
Healing Back Pain

So when you are constantly refered to as having a “Type A” personality think about this. Bottom line is, sometimes life throws you a curve ball from every direction.  You can face it head on, but you must realize some things are out of your control.  You can’t control everything, and results are not always going to be the way you want them to be.  So for me, once I realize I can’t fix everything and stop over analyzing everything, I move on and so do the aches and pains.  Regardless the series of events going on in your life, you’re probably not going to realize it’s the stress, anxiety, subconscious anger etc…. that’s causing the physical pain.  Just be aware of the pain moving around your body.  That’s a sign that it’s TMS (Tension myositis syndrome), vs. an actual physical ailment.  Of course, get checked by your physician to make sure there really isn’t something physically wrong.  For me recently, this is the pain pattern my TMS took on: Sore right ankle while running, Left forefoot pain (almost like I had a couple broken toes), Left glute medius pain, then boom out of control muscle spasms in my lower back.  Crazy right?  August was stressful for me.  That’s when the ankle pain began.  Anyhow, my back went out on a Saturday.  I focused on my TMS exercises immediately.  By Tues. morning, I was pain-free and running hill repeats with no pain at all.  

Anyhow, this has been my experience, and learning about the mind-body connection and dealing with my TMS head on has really helped.  

Have you experienced unexplained physical pain / discomfort?  Are you aware of The mind-body connection?  Have you read Dr. Sarno’s books?  Please share your experience.  I’d love to hear about it.  


5 Replies to “Stress….Dealing with it….”

  1. I get stress headaches the most. I stay at home, work from home and handle all bills and house work. It is a lot to handle. I do it well, but sometimes I am extremely stressed. I tend to take hot baths, read or go for a walk to relax.

  2. What a great blog, Nicol! We are a connected body. So much of our culture wants to deal with our “parts” when they are inseparable. Thank you

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