What is Tension Myositis Syndrome or TMS

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Tension Myositis Syndrome, also known as TMS, is a condition that affects millions of people around the world and is often misunderstood or misdiagnosed. I’m diving into this topic because the topic hits close to home. After two years of searching, researching and going to the best doctors and therapists in the country for my husband Bret’s unexplained neuropathy, this is one stone we can’t leave unturned.
In my true ADHD fashion, I’ve gone down the TMS rabbit hole. I hope what I’ve discovered helps you too if you’ve been suffering from a diagnosis that, thus far, hasn’t had any conclusion, relief or answers.
I ask that you suspend your criticism and disbelief long enough to understand the rationale behind it.

What is TMS?

TMS is a type of psychosomatic disorder that affects the musculoskeletal system. It’s a condition in which psychological stress can manifest as physical pain. TMS is often characterized by chronic pain in the back, neck, shoulder, and other areas of the body. This pain can be severe, debilitating, and persistent, and can last for weeks, months, or even years.

TMS was first described by Dr. John Sarno, a physician and professor at the New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Sarno believed that TMS was caused by repressed emotions, particularly anger and anxiety. He argued that these emotions could create tension in the muscles and nerves, leading to chronic pain and other physical symptoms.

According to Dr. Sarno, TMS is a way for the mind to distract the individual from their emotional pain or discomfort by creating physical pain. He called this phenomenon “the mindbody connection.” In other words, our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs can have a direct impact on our physical health.

TMS is not a new condition, but it’s often misdiagnosed or misunderstood by healthcare professionals. Many people with TMS are told that their pain is the result of a physical injury, degenerative condition, or other medical problem. They may undergo multiple tests, scans, and surgeries, but their symptoms persist despite treatment. This has been the case for Bret. Countless blood tests, physical tests and loads of physical therapy have yielded no relief

TMS is not a structural problem, but a functional one. It’s not caused by any physical abnormalities, but by the way the brain and nervous system respond to stress and emotions.

back pain

TMS Symptoms

One of the main symptoms of TMS is chronic pain. This pain can be localized or widespread and may affect different parts of the body at different times. The pain is often described as a dull ache, burning sensation, or throbbing pain. It may be constant or come and go, and it may be triggered by specific activities or movements.

Other symptoms of TMS may include muscle stiffness, weakness, and fatigue. These symptoms are often attributed to muscle strain or overuse, but in reality, they are caused by the mindbody connection.

TMS can affect anyone, but it’s more common in people who are prone to stress, anxiety, and other emotional issues. It’s also more common in people who have a history of physical or emotional trauma.

The good news is that TMS is a treatable condition. The first step is to recognize that the pain is not caused by a physical problem but by a psychosomatic one. Once this is understood, the individual can begin to address the underlying emotional issues that are causing the pain.

tms feeling good


Treatment for TMS may include psychotherapy, stress management techniques, and relaxation exercises. These approaches can help individuals identify and manage their emotions, reduce stress and tension, and break the cycle of pain. (But honestly, you have to believe it’s going to work…like placebos have been shown to).

In addition to these approaches, some people with TMS may benefit from medication, physical therapy, or other complementary therapies. However, it’s important to remember that these treatments are not a cure for TMS, but rather a way to manage the symptoms while the underlying emotional issues are addressed. Positive affirmations and the belief that one can heal also play a role in healing.

If you suspect that you have TMS, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about the condition. This may be a physician, psychologist, or other healthcare provider who has experience in treating psychosomatic disorders. This IS NOT super mainstream yet, so use Google!

In conclusion, TMS is a psychosomatic condition that affects millions of people around the world. It’s a condition in which psychological stress can manifest as physical pain. TMS is often misunderstood or misdiagnosed, but it’s a treatable condition. With the right diagnosis and treatment, individuals with TMS can overcome their pain and improve their quality of life.

For a full podcast episode about TMS, and to see a list of daily affirmations you can use, click here.

TMS Resources

  • “The Mindbody Prescription:” Healing the Body, Healing the Pain” by, John E. Sarno
  • “The Body Keeps the Score Workbook:” Mind, Body, and Spirit Exercises for Trauma Survivors,” by Bessel van der Kolk
  • “The Top 10 Health Discoveries of Dr. John Sarno,” by Steve Ozanich
  • “All the Rage: Saved by Sarno,” directed by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley (documentary)
Oh, did you know I have a Patreon? If you love my free episodes, you’re going to LOVE the extra ones that I reserve just for my homies. These episodes are juicer, more personal, feature my husband Bret completely unfiltered and are kinda like a secret club. Check it out here.


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