How I Eliminated my Chronic Pain through a Mind-Body Approach
This is the story of my several year journey with chronic pain in my hands and wrists that originally developed as repetitive strain injuries, or RSI, from guitar and computer use. After trying pretty much everything to find a cure, I gave up for a while and then last year experienced a dramatic and surprising recovery after finally discovering an accurate diagnosis for my pain in what is variously referred to as Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS), Mind-Body Syndrome (MBS), and / or Psychophysiologic Disorder (PPD), or physical symptoms of a psychological origin.
In that time I have come to believe that mind-body syndrome is A) a possible root cause of (or major contributor to) many chronic conditions and B) a new paradigm in medicine unfolding under our noses. This piece of writing endeavors to be a tiny contribution towards a dream that many of us share: advancing mind-body approaches in healthcare to the forefront of medicine!
For websites, books, podcasts, and other resources on the subject, please see the companion piece to this post: Mind-Body Syndrome Resource List
About four years ago I developed severe chronic pain throughout my upper body that, after six months without signs of improvement, led me to resign from my office job as a social worker. The pain originated in both of my wrists after a guitar performance in July 2015 and with computer use became more acute in the following months, eventually spreading up my arms and down my back. I got to the point where a mouse click would trigger pain in my thumb, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and back, which I would experience hundreds of times a day while working on the computer.
Like many folks who experience some form of computer-use related repetitive strain injury, or RSI, my mind immediately went to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. After an uncomfortable Electromyogram test came back negative, I proceeded with both MRIs and X-Rays of the hands and wrists to test for some sign of structural damage. Nothing. Researching other cases of RSI, I sought testing for something called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a condition in which compression in the shoulders leads to pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and wrists. Negative! I finally pursued extensive blood-work, both with my doctor and with a rheumatologist to identify some form of systemic disease as the source of pain, which also came back inconclusive. Before officially resigning from my job, I was experiencing chest pain and heart palpitations and consulted with a cardiologist, who told me that there was nothing wrong with my body. 
Negative test results across the board came with both relief and confusion. If I was physically healthy, what was the source of the intense pain in my hands and wrists? Why had it intensified over the past six months and spread throughout the rest of my upper body? I became extremely frustrated with the many medical specialists I saw, who had no conclusive answers for my situation but offered generalized diagnoses like tendinitis and /or tendonosis that did not explain the long-term intensification and spread of pain. One medical doctor specializing in hand and wrist issues told me that I might have to accept of life of chronic pain and begin developing coping mechanisms for flare-ups when they happen.
Despite extensive testing and doctor visits, my symptoms remained medically unexplained. Confusingly, too, my pain was largely limited to computer use and the guitar. As soon as I got off the computer, pain in my hands and wrists would dissipate and I would otherwise be okay. Activities like phone use, cooking, and driving were also problematic, but I was convinced that the keyboard and mouse were the primary source of my symptoms.
In search of my own answers, I found an online support group filled with people who shared my story. Many of these people had been living with symptoms worse than my own in both scope and timeline — experiencing physical pain that began with computer use and evolved over many years into system-wide pain with no medically agreed-upon diagnose or path to recovery. Everyone shared a common fear of the computer, however, with some experiencing various degrees of success through adaptation strategies like voice dictation, ergonomic adjustments, and occupational therapy.
Hearing the stories of other people with similar or worse situations to my own affirmed the seriousness of my experience and opened my eyes to the possibility of a lifetime of chronic pain. After six months of downward trajectory with no promising path forward, I made the difficult decision to leave my job so that I could focus fully on my recovery and, hopefully, return to playing the guitar.
The departure from my job occurred in January 2016, about four years from the writing of this story. Not having found a legitimate diagnosis for my pain, but also recognizing that I had effectively ruled-out anything life threatening after the many medical tests and consultations I was able to access through my healthcare and financial privilege, I accepted that chronic pain was a part of my identity and moved on with my life. I was fortunate enough to find an employer who worked with my physical constraints by giving me a diversity of tasks, which seemed to mitigate the worst of the pain by minimizing the repetitive nature of any one activity that might otherwise create flare-ups if repeated several days in a row.
Despite a successful adaptation to new circumstances, I still navigated life with a physical identity premised on frailness and fragility in my upper body, carefully assessing my engagements and work commitments for the level of risk and pain they might create for me. I did keep computer use to a minimum, but the occasional writing project triggered a flare up that would leave me mentally and physically exhausted, requiring several hours of self-care routine that included exercise, hot baths, and self-massage.
Over the years I pursued many forms of alternative healthcare, including Yoga, Acupuncture, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, massage, Myofascial Release, physical and occupational therapy, and dietary change to a whole foods, plant based diet. All of these were helpful, but the pain always returned. (And, just to note this here for anyone reading this from a similar place: exercise in any form — running, swimming, walking — was actually the most therapeutic overall). I was able to develop a functional balance for myself, but still passed through periodic cycles of pain intensification that required time and money to navigate.
It was during one of these particularly intense cycles of pain, in April 2018, that I pursued a body-work session with a friend named Karden Rabin, an Integral Pain Specialist with Boundless. During our session, Karden examined my hands, wrists, and upper body and affirmed what the many diagnostic tests had already told me several years prior: there was no structural source, no physical abnormality generating the pain in my body. I was physically fine, despite the active and unexplained presence of chronic pain in my hands, wrists, and upper body, which I had simply accepted as a given.
But where the long list of doctors and specialists I consulted in the past ultimately failed to provide hopeful diagnoses and treatment protocols, Karden offered an alternative that nobody else had ever considered: that the pain I had been living with for the last three years was actually mental and emotional in origin, and that there was indeed a cure. Citing the work of Dr. John Sarno, a pioneering physician who developed a psychosomatic approach to the treatment of back pain, Karden proposed that my chronic pain symptoms were the physical manifestation of stress, and that their permanent resolution was to be found through a psychological process of emotional release and nervous system reprogramming.
I left my session with Karden feeling intrigued but skeptical of snake oil. I had spent the last several years of my life in the pursuit of answers through all sorts of alternative modalities. Many things provided relief, but the pain always returned. I was very much convinced that repetitive strain injuries like my own were medical anomalies of a terminal nature.
But I was also longing for relief, and so I began exploring Sarno’s work by reading his second book, The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain, in which Sarno articulates what he called Tension Myositis Syndrome, or TMS, a process through which the brain generates physical symptoms to serve as a distraction from repressed trauma and unresolved emotional issues.
TMS, which is now also referred to as Tension Myoneural Syndrome (and, as I mentioned at the top, a sometimes confusing list of other names like Mind Body Syndrome and Psychophysiologic Disorder), was born out of the successful treatment of thousands of patients suffering with severe chronic back pain, as described in Sarno’s popular book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection. While Sarno developed his work on the psychological origins of physical symptoms primarily through the treatment of back pain, he would ultimately expand the scope of symptoms generated by TMS to include everything from migraines to gastrointestinal issues to repetitive strain injuries like my own.
The first step to identifying whether or not physical symptoms might be psychological in origin is to effectively rule out any legitimate structural injury or disease that might be creating pain or other bodily ailments. Dr. Tovah Goldfine, a practitioner of mind-body medicine since 1985, writes on her website: “It is important to note that TMS is a medical diagnosis, and therefore should be diagnosed by a Medical Doctor. Tumor, malignancy, acute inflammatory arthritis, fracture or sprains should be ruled out first. Imaging studies as well as other medical examinations should be performed.” In my situation, I had already ruled out any source of pain in my physical body through a long list of medical screenings and diagnostic tests, though the implications of this would take months to sink in.
After ruling out the presence of any structural abnormality or disease that might be causing symptoms, Sarno was adamant that awareness of and belief in TMS was critical to recovery: As long as the patient perceives the primary source of their pain as physical in nature or is seeking a more conventional medical diagnosis (for me it was some type of torn ligament, compressed nerve that could be ‘fixed’, or inflammation), the effectiveness of a mind-body approach to pain recovery is inherently limited. There must be an acceptance and belief in the basic but not-well-understood idea that it is possible for the brain to be exclusively or primarily responsible for physical symptoms. 
Once we recognize this, affirmed Sarno, we should then return with gusto to the activities that our pain (or other symptoms) formerly kept us away from, recognizing that there is nothing actually wrong in our bodies and they are fully capable and functional. Side by side with reclaiming our physical health, we are invited into the deeper work of addressing the underlying emotional issues that Sarno believed led to the chronic condition in the first place.
While I found myself intrigued by the premise and by the seeming success of the many people who had been cured by Sarno’s work (and there are some truly incredible stories online), it didn’t quite resonate with me. I accepted at face value the idea that stress and emotions could influence the physical body — I had always been aware of “butterflies in my stomach” during particularly overwhelming moments in life — but I had a hard time accepting the idea that the same approach Sarno used to treat chronic back pain could successfully be deployed for my hands and wrists.
Moreover, I was unconvinced that I actually had any ‘unresolved emotional trauma’. Yeah, my entire experience was deeply depressing, to the point where I went on antidepressants during the low-point of my initial six-month downward spiral, but I was mostly stable internally and didn’t experience the repressed rage that Sarno wrote about in his books.
I spent about six months ruminating on the possibility that Sarno’s work might apply to me, but did not experience the dramatic recovery stories spoken of in his books.
And then, at some moment that Fall, I crossed a threshold of belief and understanding and my chronic pain just entirely disappeared.
After a follow-up session with Karden, who listened to my caveats about Sarno’s work and encouraged me to again consider TMS as a true possibility, I went through a process of googling Sarno’s work in an attempt to debunk it and actually did the opposite for myself: I discovered information that pushed me over the edge of disbelief, and within a month of obsessive application to TMS treatment protocols my chronic pain of three years simply…faded away.
My mistake the first time around was that I used Sarno’s books as the only point of reference for understanding TMS, and had missed the second generation of people actively working on popularizing and legitimizing Sarno’s work on the psychosomatic origins of back pain and other chronic symptoms.
Taking a second look at Sarno’s work, I ended up on the TMS Wiki, an online community of practitioners and patients dedicated to raising awareness for Tension Myositis Syndrome (which I will now refer to as Mind Body Syndrome). Reading through the forum, I encountered stories like this one that were almost identical to my own journey with computer-use induced RSI — except these people had actually found remarkable improvements through Sarno’s approach to mind body medicine. While before I had encountered success stories from people with back pain, hearing from those who had shared my own symptoms was the key. I began reading as many success stories as I could, each one chipping away at the doubt and disbelief preventing me from a full acceptance of Mind Body Syndrome’s medical legitimacy.
Perhaps more significant, the TMS Wiki introduced me to a community of medical doctors and mental health professionals who, building on the work of Dr. Sarno, have developed explanations and treatment protocols for Mind Body Syndrome that made a lot more sense to me than what Sarno originally published in his books. This was perhaps my critical error the first time around: that I used Sarno’s work itself as the only point of reference and missed a second wave of medical professionals who have developed much more believable (from my own experience) and accessible explanations for how chronic physical symptoms develop through a mind-body process.
Like many people, I found deep affirmation in the work of Alan Gordon of the Pain Psychology Center  and Dr. Howard Schubiner of Unlearn Your Pain. Both of these people were deeply influenced by Dr. Sarno’s work, Schubiner having built a successful medical practice around Mind Body Syndrome after studying TMS directly with Dr. Sarno (Schubiner’s own personal narrative of discovering TMS and creating a successful practice modeled after Sarno’s approach was an important resource for helping me cross the threshold of belief).
The concept that really broke through my disbelief was that of nerve sensitization, the process by which pain symptoms can develop as a conditioned response to certain activities: “Pain begins when nerve pathways from the brain to the body are stimulated or “fired,” writes Schubiner. “Over time, these pathways can become “wired” into the brain’s circuitry. The nervous system learns to create chronic pain, even though there is no serious medical condition in the body, and even though any injury that may have precipitated the pain has long ago healed.”
Reading through Schubiner’s book was like reading a first hand account of my relationship to chronic pain over the last several years — the way my symptoms had developed and spread over time, their association with specific activities like computer use and guitar playing, and the fact that nobody could find anything wrong with me — all of it was outlined point for point in Schubiner’s articulation of Mind Body Syndrome. It was like discovering fire.
Perhaps the most important piece of the mind-body puzzle for me was learning that emotional distress can serve to trigger physical symptoms beyond the scope of what we typically perceive to be stress-induced. In fact, stress and the nervous system together can actually generate real, physical symptoms that have no physical / structural source in the body:
“You already know that stress causes physical reactions. Your face will turn red if you are embarrassed. That’s because your emotions cause the autonomic nervous system to increase blood flow to the face. This is a very real bodily response to an emotion…If you have to give a speech in front of hundreds of people, your stomach may tighten up from nervousness. These are normal, everyday reactions caused by the connections between the brain and the body. Everyone accepts that these are physical reactions to stressful events, they they are not signs of disease, and that the symptoms will disappear when the stress that triggers them subsides. This is exactly the mechanism of Mind Body Syndrome: Stress triggers emotions that cause our bodies to react by producing physical symptoms…The symptoms, including the pain, are not imaginary. They are physical processes. They are real. But they are physical processes that can be reversed.”
“What is not common knowledge is that stress and emotions can create the nerve pathways that can cause chronic and often severe physical symptoms…For most people, the underlying cause is that the emotional reactions to stress trigger nerve connections that create physical pain.” Unlearn Your Pain, Howard Schubiner
Indeed, I think that this bears emphasis: Emotional strain can be the source of an entire realm of physical symptoms beyond what we conventionally associate with stress! While most medical professionals might agree that stress can make physical symptoms worse, there is not widespread recognition that the repeated exposure to emotional and psychological trauma can be the root cause of physical symptoms.
Hence my own, deeply frustrating experience in having multiple orthopedic surgeons and hand/wrist specialists tell me there was nothing wrong with my body but having no answer for what might actually be causing the pain: orthopedic surgeons (the ones who work on musculoskeletal disorders) are trained very specifically to look for structural defects that can be identified through X-Rays, MRIs, and EMGs and fixed through invasive surgical procedures. Based on their knowledge set and the tools available to them, there was nothing wrong with my body. As experts in their field, they play a critical role in scenarios like broken wrists that truly require surgery to fix, and we are extremely fortunate to live in an era where access to complex surgery is more widely available.
Surgery or physical therapy is not the answer, however, for mind-body symptoms like my own, created by a conditioned response to the repeated experience of emotionally traumatic situations that ultimately sensitize the nervous system to reproduce chronic pain symptoms. Moreover, mind-body medicine in the context of chronic pain treatment is an emerging field of medicine not yet integrated into medical school curriculum, and students are therefore not (yet) exposed to it as a realistic diagnosis for pain symptoms. I believe that in most cases there is simply no awareness, either for practitioners or patients, that Mind-Body Syndrome could be the source of chronic physical conditions.
Finally, and this was the subject of journalist Cathryn Ramin’s book on back pain, the medical industry has no financial incentive to popularize mind-body approaches to pain treatment. As Ramin writes in her book Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery, spine medicine is a $100 billion a year industry that often administers surgery where a mind-body treatment protocol would (based on the precedent of Sarno’s success) likely be a more cost-effective and low risk approach.
Given that the market for carpal tunnel release surgery is expected to exceed $839 billion by 2024, I would similarly imagine that the industry has little incentive to research and popularize an entirely non-surgical solution Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, one of the more common musculoskeletal disorders.
In the context of computer-use induced repetitive strain injuries like my own, I think there are likely many people who pursue carpal tunnel release surgery or temporary treatments like steroid injections when in fact a few sessions of psycho-therapy with a mental health professional trained in mind-body medicine would be extremely affordable (compared to surgery) and actually address the likely root cause of the problem (stress and nervous system sensitization). Certainly, psycho-therapy through a mind-body lens should at least be side-by-side with physical therapy as an initial treatment protocol before pursuing more invasive steps. It is relatively inexpensive and also no-regrets: even if pain symptoms persist, the patient will likely benefit on an emotional and psychological level from a few psycho-therapy sessions. 
To get back to my own story, a mind-body approach was certainly more effective and affordable for me. For the price of a few books and one therapy session at the Pain-Psychology Center (totaling about $200), I broke free from pain symptoms unresolved by a few thousand dollars in co-pays, diagnostic tests, and many non-western modalities (Yoga, Acupuncture, etc). While I would say it took me about six months from my initial exposure to Sarno’s work to really believe in its legitimacy and dive head first into the healing process, my hand and wrist pain disappeared in about a month once I really took it seriously and began applying myself to the mental exercises and writing practices recommended in Schubiner’s book, Unlearn Your Pain (I share some of these practices below).
My initial recovery occurred around December 2018. Writing this at the start of 2020, I have had the opportunity to look back on a full year of living my life without limitation by hand and wrist pain. In 2019, I did eventually take seriously Sarno’s invitation to return with joy and fearlessness to those formerly pain-generating activities: I began immediately with push-ups, pull-ups, mountain biking, and guitar. I spent time farming and doing heavy duty food processing, and, most significantly, returned to extensive computer work. Through all of this, my hand and wrist pain was absent, and, one-year later from starting the Mind Body Syndrome journey, I can say that there really is truth to it.
But, my story would be incomplete (and perhaps less interesting) if I didn’t add some complexity to it all by sharing that I do still struggle with pain and other physical symptoms. Dr. Howard Schubiner talks about “symptom migration” as a phenomenon in which new symptoms emerge after the original symptoms resolve: the hypothesis, originally articulated by Dr. Sarno himself, is that if the underlying emotional trauma that triggered symptoms in the first place remains unaddressed, it is possible for alternative symptoms to appear in the body.
While I read about this at the start of my journey, I was unconvinced it would happen to me. Reflecting on my last year navigating some startlingly difficult emotional eating behavior, irritable bowel syndrome, jaw pain, and persistent pain in my arches, I can say that I still have plenty of work to do in addressing the underlying emotional distress that originally contributed to my hand and wrist pain (which, to my fascination, can still be momentarily triggered when I experience sharp moments of fear or anxiety, only to quickly dissipate once I relax).
The key takeaway from my experience applying a mind-body approach to my hand and wrist pain is that I have a new psychological relationship to physical symptoms in my body. In fact, many of the symptoms I now navigate in the absence of RSI were around well before my experience described in this story. If symptom migration is a factor, I think I also have a newly learned awareness for when and how psychosomatic symptoms manifest in my body, coupled with the ongoing capacity to disrupt the pain →fear→anxiety →more pain cycle in real time. And this internal mental mastery over emotions and stress, which is ultimately mindfulness practice, is I believe the foundation of healing from Mind-Body Syndrome.
And so, in reflecting on my process one year later, I would say the core of it has been to 1) understand that chronic physical symptoms I didn’t associate with stress can actually be caused by it through a process of nerve sensitization; 2) radically shift my own relationship with pain from panic and fear to calm and anxiety (as visualized in the images above and below); and 3) cultivate a deep awareness, exquisite sensitivity, and compassionate curiosity for the intimate, complex relationship between my internal psycho-emotional state and my physical, embodied experience.
So where do I start?
People who have a similar story to me (i.e. intractable chronic physical symptoms that remain medically unexplained) often ask me for a step-by-step list for what to do. Recognizing that I have zero medical accreditation, please do not take mistake this as formal medical advice. Instead, receive it as the personal experience of someone who figured Mind-Body Syndrome out for himself and wants to liberate others from the deep existential angst of this experience.
Nota bene: If you’re serious about pursuing medical expertise (which I would recommend), find a practitioner who specializes in Mind Body syndrome.
- Establish awareness and belief: Study TMS / Mind Body Syndrome and develop a core understanding of the emotional / psychological basis for physical symptoms. Come to a place of personal expertise on the subject, using the resource list that I compiled here as a point of departure. In addition to direct perspectives from existing practitioners, expose yourself to success stories from real people. The database of success stories on the TMS Wiki and the podcast from Curable Health are great resources for this.
- Build your own case for Mind Body Syndrome: First obtain assurance from a medical doctor that there is nothing actually wrong with your body that might be causing the pain. For me, I had already been through extensive diagnostic testing that affirmed my physical health and left the door open for MBS as a true diagnosis. It took a few months, but I also began paying attention to the emotional / psychological context around my pain flare-ups and was able to develop a robust evidence sheet indicating that my pain really only occurred in specific instances of stressful computer use and other repetitive-activities that I had come to fear. My invitation to you is to start paying close attention to the psychological, emotional, and social context in which your symptoms appear; consider documenting these in a journal.
- Reprogram the body to feel safety (instead of fear): The images above detail the basic shift that needs to take place in moving from the pain cycle to the coping cycle. Chronic pain symptoms like my own developed through nerve sensitization to pain from repeatedly exposing myself to a situation I experienced as dangerous. Every time I sat down at the computer over that initial six month period when my symptoms developed, I experienced increasing degrees of both pain and fear that fed into each other in a self-amplifying feedback loop. Over time, this created a learned neural pathway of pain in my hands, wrists, and upper body. Thanks to neuroplasticity, the body is actually capable of reprogramming these neural pathways. For me, this process of reprogramming occurred over a several week period in which I cultivated a deep sense of physical safety while returning directly to the activities I feared the most: computer use, guitar, bike riding, and regular use of my upper body through exercise and kitchen work.
- Proceed in the work with “outcome independence:” One important concept is what Alan Gordon refers to as outcome independence: “One of the clearest paths to eliminating your symptoms is to take away the pain’s power by overcoming your preoccupation with it,” shares Gordon. “Easier said than done, right? Shifting to an attitude of outcome independence is a great technique to help achieve that. Outcome independence means your definition of success is independent of a specific outcome.” Outcome independence is important because this work is not linear: in the first month, I experienced a back and forth of pain symptoms that challenged my perception of MBS’s legitimacy — this re-occurrence of symptoms is often what undermines or limits people’s success with the process of reprogramming learned neural pathways. Focus on the actual practice and commitment to the process of healing rather than the timeline of success.
- Be aware of symptom migration: One challenge people experience (as I did myself) is a migration of symptoms pertaining to mind body syndrome. In the year since my upper body pain disappeared, I have experienced pain in my jaw and foot arches, as well as varying degrees of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also considered a Mind Body Syndrome disorder). I am aware that these symptoms are psychosomatic because they present themselves interchangeably and have a strong connection to my emotional state, however I do still experience frustration when they get particularly bad. The key is that I now have a non-catastrophizing relationship to pain: when I do experience pain, I practice reacting with feelings of calm and safety, rather than the fear and danger that sent me into a vicious cycle of pain sensitization. I now know that pain is a part of the human condition, and I am less afraid of it when it happens. Your job is to stay committed to disrupting the pain cycle.
- Invest time and resources into mental, emotional, and spiritual health: Mind Body Syndrome demonstrates the powerful influence of mind and emotions on the physical body. Cultivating awareness of this relationship is a first step towards a lifelong journey with psychological and emotional fitness. Exploring Mind Body Syndrome has for me been an opportunity to do the inner work necessary for perceiving the psychological conditions that led to my chronic pain in the first place. The resulting gift has been a much deeper understanding of who I am and how I relate to myself, my community, Earth, and Cosmos.
- Bonus Advice: If you are physically able and have access to the outdoors, spend a few hours (or days) in nature, both alone and in community with loved ones. Wilderness therapy is real. If you live in an urban environment, find a park or a botanical garden and cultivate a sense of oneness with nature. Go hug a tree!
Thank you for reading! Please check out the Mind Body Syndrome Resource List for links to books, websites, podcasts, and other helpful information on MBS. I welcome questions and comments below, and invite those of you with success (or failure) stories to share your experience with the world.
For anyone that would like to talk in person or receive peer-support in their process, please feel free to send me an email at email@example.com
 Of course, in retrospect, it is easy to recognize that the source of my heart palpitations and chest pain was stress, but I was unable or unwilling to fully accept or understand this in the moment — which is more or less the moral of this entire story.
 “There must be an acceptance and belief in the basic but not-well-understood idea that it is possible for the brain to be exclusively or primarily responsible for physical symptoms.” Here I say “exclusively or primarily” because I think it is important to recognize that there are scenarios in which the mind can significantly exacerbate symptoms that do indeed have a physical or structural source. Sports physician David Schechter talks about the idea of a ‘spectrum of mind-body disorders’ during his interview on the Curable Health Podcast. See the 9 minute 30 second mark of this podcast interview.
 Alan Gordon, a psychotherapist with the Pain Psychology Center in LA, is particularly active on the TMS Wiki. I found his article, Miracles of Mind Body Medicine, to be a particularly helpful on-ramp to better understanding TMS.
 Unlearn Your Pain, page 3
 Of course I have no real data to back up this radical claim about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but I would love to see medical trials done on mind-body approaches to symptom reduction as alternatives to surgery for CTS — a surgery I seriously considered and thankfully avoided. And, as I say, psycho-therapy certainly makes sense as a safe, cost effective first step before considering more invasive surgical procedures that might not work in the first place.