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), which is also called Tension Myoneural Syndrome or Tension Psychogenic Syndrome, also known that Psychophysiologic Disorders (PPD), fall into the following categories:

Chronic pain symptoms

Tension headaches
Back pain (including herniated discs, slipped discs, degenerative discs, degenerative disc disease, stenosis, sciatica and pinched nerves.)
Neck pain
Knee pain
Patellofemoral syndrome
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome
Chronic abdominal and pelvic pain syndromes
Chronic tendonitis (in any joint)
Piriformis syndrome
Repetitive strain injury
Foot pain syndromes
Myofascial pain syndrome
Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS)

other symptoms

Migraine attacks
Some patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), (aka Myalgic Encephalitis or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease*)
Paresthesias (numbness, tingling, burning)
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Dizziness / Vertigo
Trigeminal Neuralgia
Globus sensation
Burning chest pain (resembles acid reflux)
Difficulty breathing
Chronic cough
Spastic dysphonia
Chronic hives
Hypersensitivity syndromes (to touch, sound, smells, foods, medications)

Other conditions that can occur in people with TMS & PPD who benefit from the same treatment

Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Eating disorders
Substance use disorders

Autonomic nervous system disorders

Irritable bowel syndrome
Interstitial cystitis (Irritable bladder syndrome)
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
Inappropriate sinus tachycardia
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (Complex regional pain syndrome)

PPD does NOT include:

Rheumatoid conditions
Infections & Viruses (such as COVID-19*)
* The cause of “Long-Haul” COVID is still being studied, therefore it is currently unknown whether or not this could be PPD


Since structural damage or organ disease processes can also cause the symptoms on this list, it is important to first rule out serious medical conditions with your doctor.

T = Tension (The result of anger buried in the body)

M = Myoneural (Muscles & Nerves)

S = Syndrome (A collection of symptoms)

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.
  • Difficulty saying “no”.
  • 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 fear and anger.
  • Need to excel, not just achieve.
  • Worry a lot about what could go wrong.
  • Difficulties implementing healthy boundaries.
  • 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 and PPD related pain often 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 and PDD pain also tend to behave illogically. They can move around to different places within the body and worsens with stress. Most importantly, if you think TMS/PDD could explain your symptoms, always see a doctor first to rule out any physical causes (i.e. cancer, broken bones, infection etc.) 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, speaking to a TMS Therapist and implementing healthier boundaries.

To find out more about TMS and MBD related issues, check out our resources page.



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