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What is TMS?

TMS, short for Tension Myositis Syndrome or Tension Myoneural Syndrome, denotes a persistent pain condition resulting from the repression of emotions. The term was originally coined by Dr. John E. Sarno, MD during the 1980s. Dr. Sarno observed that his patients experiencing chronic pain did not show improvement through conventional treatments, and additionally exhibited various gastrointestinal issues, allergies, and other ailments.

Upon conducting further investigations, Dr. Sarno discovered that these patients shared several common personality traits, including perfectionism, "goodism," legalism, and an intense desire for approval, among others. These personality traits can generate significant internal anger or frustration that often goes unnoticed, eventually culminating in the manifestation of chronic pain.

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This does NOT imply that the pain is purely psychological. The pain is indeed genuine, as Dr. Sarno emphasized, and TMS pain is known to be among the most severe types of pain. Rather, it signifies that the brain is generating the pain without any underlying structural or tissue damage. Even if you have received a structural diagnosis, it is important to note that virtually all patients who sought treatment from Dr. Sarno shared similar diagnoses. Some of the common conditions his patients were diagnosed with included:
 

  • Herniated Discs

  • Slipped Discs

  • Spinal Stenosis

  • Scoliosis

  • Torn Rotator Cuffs

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Plantar Fasciitis

  • and various others

 

Conventional physicians are generally unaware of this aspect, and when they diagnose individuals with an "incurable" condition, it instills fear, which exacerbates and prolongs the pain.

Additionally, it has been discovered that numerous other commonly occurring illnesses can be considered TMS equivalents, such as:

 

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

  • Seasonal Allergies

  • Food Intolerances

  • Interstitial Cystitis (IC)

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Adrenal Fatigue/Insufficiency

  • Mold Illness

  • Migraines

  • Anxiety and/or Depression

  • and many more

 

Given the broad range of symptoms that can result from repressed emotions or trauma, TMS is also referred to by other terms such as The MindBody Syndrome (MBS) and Psychophysiological Disorders (PPD).

So, how can one overcome this condition? According to Dr. Sarno, knowledge is the key, analogous to penicillin. While repressed emotions give rise to symptoms, it is fear that perpetuates them. Fear stems not only from the symptoms themselves but also from the apprehension of never recovering, which is often reinforced by non-TMS physicians. Merely understanding that there is no physical issue with the body significantly diminishes the fear surrounding the symptoms, leading to a reduction or elimination of those symptoms. Some individuals have achieved "cures" simply by reading one of Dr. Sarno's books. Dr. Sarno also advised patients to create a list of childhood adversities, personality traits as mentioned earlier, and current stressors, and to focus on these aspects rather than fixating on the symptoms. He referred to this shift in thinking as psychological rather than physical.

Regrettably, some individuals continue to struggle with recovery despite reading Dr. Sarno's books and adopting a psychological mindset. This is where my expertise comes into play. Having personally experienced the excruciating pain of TMS and having overcome several other illnesses through a mind-body approach and my relationship with and faith in God, I would be delighted to assist you in navigating the journey of mind-body healing and help you identify any barriers to progress.

While obtaining a diagnosis from a TMS doctor can be beneficial in dispelling doubts about the diagnosis, it is not mandatory. A list of TMS doctors can be found here and here. Many of them offer consultations via Skype or Zoom.

TMS/MBS Books:

Books by Dr. John Sarno

The Great Pain Deception - Steve Ozanich

Unlearn Your Pain - Dr. Howard Schubiner

Back in Control - Dr. David Hanscom

Childhood Disrupted - Donna Jackson Nakazawa

A brief video about TMS/MBS by Dr. Howard Schubiner:

Explaining Chronic Pain

A more detailed article on TMS:

An Introduction to Tension Myositis Syndrome

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