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Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS)



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Overview of TMS or Pain Distraction Syndrome

According to Dr. Sarno, TMS is a condition in which emotional stress causes physical pain in the human body. Most often this pain occurs in the back, neck, shoulders, and buttocks but may appear in other parts of the body as well.

The physiological reason for the pain is decreased blood flow, causing oxygen deprivation in the affected area(s) of the body, which may involve muscles, nerves, tendons or ligaments. This physical phenomenon, the decreased blood flow, is an aberration undertaken by the autonomic nervous system that causes increased pain and tension in the affected tissues. This results in muscle pain similar to what an athlete might feel after a strenuous workout. Whereas the athlete will feel relief within moments of halting the workout, the person afflicted with TMS continues to feel pain almost constantly.

TMS Treatment

Dr. Sarno claims that simply educating the mind about TMS is the most important step in the process to make it go away. However, he advises patients that they should first have a thorough physical examination by a qualified physician. This is done primarily to exclude more serious conditions, such as fractures, tumors, or infections that require conventional care, but it also can identify symptoms that are typical of TMS, such as certain tender points that become painful when pressed.

The remaining steps include firstly "Repudiate the physical and acknowledge the psychological aspect" which includes moving around and resuming normal activity as much as you can bear, without worrying about "re-injury" (easier said than done). With TMS the only thing wrong with your back is that it hurts.

Secondly "Drive the concept to your unconscious" by repeatedly focusing on exactly what your unconscious mind is attempting to repress - the sources of your anger.
Dr. David Schechter, one of Sarno's former medical students and research assistants, has developed a 30-day, daily journal called "The MindBody Workbook" to address the relative lack of treatment advice in Dr. Sarno’s book(s). In the workbook, the reader is encouraged to record emotionally significant events and make correlations between them and their physical pain. The point is to become aware of repressed emotions, which usually involves identifying their sources.
The three major sources include one's childhood, personality type (self-critical, overly responsible, often perfectionist, prone to guilt) and life's challenges.
The book describes personality types that are prone to TMS, and how TMS works. Once the mind understands the trick it is playing on itself, it gives up the ruse, and the symptoms will usually disappear after daily repetition.

Take Actions Now

  1. Listen To a TMS Podcast by the Seligman Medical Institute
  2. Watch a YouTube video by Dr. Schechter.
  3. Many readers of Dr. Sarno's book find improvement and become pain free. Others improve but continue to learn:
  4. Read and work through the some of following TMS materials:
  5. If you are a smoker then you should quit smoking. You know that it is bad for you and that smoking reduces life expectancy by seven to eight years. Electronic cigarettes are a higher option and you should consider one of the e cigarette brands listed here.

The Podcasts and the YouTube video are hosted by the Seligman Medical Institute (www.smi-mindbodyresearch.org).


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Topics on this page: Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS)