Pain in the buttocks and leg in a 42-year-old athletic woman

Dear Dr Schubiner,

Well I’ve been running with no pain, 2 times a week, since the second week of your TMS workshop! I’m ecstatic! As you know it had been 4 years since I had stopped doing any type of aerobic activity due to an incessant pain in my left buttock and leg. I have now been 90% pain free for the last 6 weeks. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am. I truly feel as though I have my life back. At one point 3 years ago, I was entertaining the thought of just getting rid of my leg altogether; I figured a prosthetic leg with no pain was much more appealing than living the rest of my life in pain. Thank goodness I found you.

My journey to recovery began after reading ‘Full Catastrophe Living” by John Kabat-Zinn and signing up for your mindfulness based stress reduction program which then lead me to your TMS program. I was at a point in my life where I had given up ever finding a cure for my physical pain and decided that if I couldn’t beat it physically I’d have to find a way to deal with it mentally.

I am a married 42-year-old mother of two children. I let go of my teaching career to have children 12 years ago and now work part time doing administrative work in my husband’s orthodontic practice. I had always been very active, in fact running was my passion as well as skiing, hiking and mountain-biking. They are what kept me sane during some (as I now look back) difficult times. At the time though I was just doing what needed to be done and probably quite happily if you had asked me or anybody I knew. In the last 12 years both my mother and father suffered heart attacks, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he left my mother after 37 years of marriage, and my first born was up every night for 4 and a half years and my husband was very busy growing his practice and wasn’t around much.

During a 10km fun run in March of 2002, I experienced a pain in my left hamstring. Like most avid runners I just kept running. As long as I could remember I’d always had a pain somewhere; my wrist, my shoulder, my upper back, my lower back, my hip, migraine headaches, so I just kept on going except that this pain never did go away. It just got worse and worse. I started weekly massage that summer which helped only a little bit. I was then treated by a chiropractor for 6 months with manual adjustments, which of course only helped a little bit. I then moved on to physical therapy and was subsequently diagnosed with a leg length discrepancy and began to wear a heel lift in my left shoe. After not much improvement the physical therapist then diagnosed me with an instability of the SI joint and I began to wear an SI belt. At this point I had to stop doing anything physical due my pain. After a year of little improvement, I began to see a neurologist (DO) and was treated with manual adjustments, acupuncture as well as acupuncture with electrical stimulation. After one year I was dismissed from his practice as he felt we weren’t making much improvement.

My husband, bless his soul, was exasperated and finally sent me off to The Mayo Clinic. I was diagnosed with piriformis syndrome and was treated with an anesthetic/steroid injections into the piriformis muscle which they felt was responsible for my pain. Of course this also helped a little bit, however I was still in pain and was spending more and more time on the couch, the floor or in bed. I started physiotherapy again, focusing on the piriformis and all the other areas that were now hurting as well. Another year came and went.

I had pretty well given up on leading a life that included making any plans or having any dreams when finally my sister introduced me to mindfulness which led me to you which then lead me to “The Mind Body Prescription”. I am so happy to say that I now have the ability to recognize that my pain is caused by an accumulation of anger and rage in my unconscious and that it uses my body as it’s outlet and that I no longer allow it to do so. This has taken work on my part however I am thankful that I am able to now let go and be pain free.

Thanks again for all your help.

Chris S.

*The personal stories are from actual course participants and are used with permission. The names and photos have been changed to protect confidentiality.