Chronic Pain & TMS

The majority of my clients experience chronic pain (including symptoms such as migraines, muscle stiffness, cramps, fatigue, IBS stomach issues, allergies and TMJ). They have all completed numerous tests and medical appointments, often for several years, visiting the doctor and taking medication. Some have also undergone surgical procedures. Yet for many, not much has changed. Their symptoms continued to remain the same and/or move around to other parts of their body. This is not a coincidence!

Generally, conditions associated with Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) fall into the following categories:

Primary Conditions: 

Primary Conditions present in the skeletal structure, muscles, nerves and/or other soft tissue and are typically diagnosed by medical professionals as:

  • Back Pain – including herniated discs, slipped discs, degenerative discs, degenerative disc disease, stenosis and pinched nerves.
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain (including rotator cuff issues)
  • Knee Pain
  • Foot Pain, including Plantar Fasciitis
  • TMJ (jaw pain)
  • Pelvic Floor Pain
  • Tendonitis (“tennis elbow” being one of the most frequently diagnosed)
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Chronic Headaches
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome 

Secondary Conditions: 

Secondary Conditions present as:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal Issues/irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, etc.
  • Tinnitus/ringing in the ears
  • Skin Conditions (Eczema, rashes)
  • Lyme Disease
  • Chronic Environmental or Food Allergies
  • Chronic Anxiety (often a “side effect” from chronic pain) 

What are TMS Personality Traits?

  • Perfectionism and a need to be perfect in order to prove one’s self-worth.
  • Self-critical and often maintaining high standards for themselves. Their inner sense of inadequacies fuels the perfectionism.
  • A need to be good, to the point of sacrificing their own needs for others, which often leads to unconscious anger towards the Self.
  • Hostility and aggression or irritability and short-tempered towards others as a result of repressed rage.
  • Guilt or self-criticism for not being or doing enough to please or satisfy others.
  • Dependency and a deep inner desire to be taken care of but when that falls short, it generates unconscious anger.
  • Need to excel, not just achieve.
  • Worry a lot about what could go wrong.
  • Carry a strong sense of responsibility for everything (i.e. prioritizing the well-being of one’s pet over one’s own needs).
  • Often accomplished individuals who end up working in the helping and/or trade sector.
  • Deep seated feelings of inferiority stemming from low self-esteem.
  • Belief that nothing they do is ever enough or good enough.
  • Hard workers (at times excessively)
  • Competitive and determined to get ahead, but more critical of themselves than others.

TMS pain first occurs during a particularly stressful time in life, for example when having moving in with a new partner, starting a new job or losing an old job, financial hardship, having a baby, going through a divorce/breakup, loss of any kind including physical injury. TMS pain also tends to behave illogically. It can move around to different places within the body and it worsens with stress. Most importantly, if you think TMS could explain your symptoms, always see a doctor first to rule out any physical causes for your pain in order to prevent further injury.

Dr. Howard Schubiner suggests exploring the following questions to determine if a symptom is PDD or TMS related:

  • Is there a clearly defined medical disorder (i.e. tissue or structural damage) that explains the symptom?
  • Is there a history of other psychophysiological disorders (PDD)?
  • Were there significant life events occurring at the onset of the symptom(s)?
  • Is there a history of significant stressful events, particularly early in life?

Furthermore, if you are considering starting TMS treatment with an experienced TMS Counsellor/Psychotherapist please be aware that it will take time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not seeing results right away. The most important thing is to keep reminding yourself that you can be cured. Read others’ success stories to have hope. Dig deep in your journaling process and speak to your therapist. It is also important to routinely practice other techniques that you will pick up from the recovery program, such as mindful breathing, physical exercise, meditation and grounding self-soothing techniques.

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