1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Clearing up confusion about TMS

Discussion in 'Alan Gordon TMS Recovery Program' started by dillon95, Mar 11, 2024.

  1. dillon95

    dillon95 New Member

    Hello everyone,

    So, I have been having constant upper neck contractions and severe anxiety for many years now, which cause tension headaches and neck pain. From reading through Alan's book and 21-day program I got the impression that the physical symptoms are harmless sensations that your body experiences and the pain generated by the brain is just learned pain and isn't happening for any physical reason. However, this does not make sense to me when I read the definition of TENSION myositis syndrome. Muscle tension is a clear part of this syndrome, which means that muscle tension is what is generating the pain. Muscle tension is a very physical thing, and this means that the pain is not being generated for no physical reason. The pain is being generated because the muscles are constantly contracting and therefore being over worked and over strained leading to muscle pain. The brain isn't sending faulty pain signals, this pain is being sent for a real physical reason: strained muscles from muscle tension. So then how can we say that the pain is just being generated for no physical reason and there is no damage to the muscles when the muscles are clearly being overworked to exhaustion which can potentially lead to muscle tears long term?

    Thank you
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2024
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    It is important to read a book by Dr. Sarno which will help you clear up your misconceptions about TMS.
    The reason your muscles are tense is because you are anxious. You may not recognize it, you’ve probably been anxious most of your life.
    Our brain causes the tension, the body does not. Tight muscles are not overworked. This is a misconception. You overwork muscles if you, say lift 300lbs when you are used to lifting 100..and they recover in a few days.
    Recognize that tension is not just in the body, it is also in the mind. It is stress and as Dr. Sarno states, generated by unconscious anger. It is part of TMS that Alan Gordon doesn’t touch on in his books much, but it is very much part of Dr. Sarno’s theory. Sarno implores us to Think Psychological. How Gordon is similar, is that they both ask you to recognize that the physical symptoms are a distraction from life (and Sarno states, the psychological).
  3. dillon95

    dillon95 New Member

    Thank you for your response!

    I actually put a hold on Dr. Sarno's book called "healing back pain" and hope to learn more from him. I am definitely aware of the fact that anxiety is causing my muscles to tense up because my anxiety literally controls the intensity and frequency of my muscle contractions. The more stressed and anxious I am, the worse the tension and resulting pain. I struggle to get through even the simplest of tasks because every little movement in my body makes me anxious and sends danger signals to my brain and causes me to tighten up. This is a constant struggle through each day that I deal with.

    So, to be clear, you don't think the muscle contraction symptoms I'm experiencing can cause any damage in my neck? Just knowing this would at least provide some relief to me because this is by far the biggest stressor for me.
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    No. Zero damage.
    Now, your brain will just jog along to the NEXT scary "But what about..."? and when it does, you will know you are one of us.

    Get the Sarno book and read it. It changed my life (for the better obviously)

    Cactusflower likes this.
  5. dillon95

    dillon95 New Member

    Thank you appreciate it! Helps to hear that for sure. My brain definitely does that all the time, constantly feels like I'm fighting with it all day long. Looking forward to reading the Sarno book and seeing if it helps me in any way.
    Baseball65 likes this.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Also, @dillon95, you are waaay overthinking this whole thing. You're actually allowing your anxiety to distract you with minute details that are seriously not significant.

    You will be doing do yourself an enormous favor if you can step back from the hyper-focused attention, and take some deep relaxing breaths. Do this about a hundred times a day so that a state of less anxiety and even a little bit more calm starts to feel normal.

    You have absolutely nothing to lose by giving this a try. It's totally free, and it can't hurt you!
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    PS, I provide info about the neuroscience of pain here:
    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/pelvic-pain-hip-pain-toe-pain-knee-pain.27975/#post-145135 (Pelvic Pain, Hip Pain, Toe Pain, Knee Pain)
    and here (same thread, different post):
    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/pelvic-pain-hip-pain-toe-pain-knee-pain.27975/#post-145137 (Pelvic Pain, Hip Pain, Toe Pain, Knee Pain)
    The second one contains a link to an excellent and short article with an awesome explanation of how pain is created.
  8. dillon95

    dillon95 New Member

    I agree I’m definitely overthinking things a lot. Thank you for the links and I will definitely practice the breathing throughout the day more.
  9. dillon95

    dillon95 New Member

    One question I had. If muscle tension isn’t causing damage, then why is the mind generating pain in response to the contractions?
  10. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

  11. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love Alan Gordon and I think he's a wonderful therapist and his book is brilliant, BUT.... I feel like he's failed to properly provide the essential message, which is that the TMS mechanism developed as a primitive survival function, which was to distract us from our negative emotions so that we were safe in the primitive wilderness. It's weird, and you're not going to understand it until you understand Dr sarno's theory. You're also going to have to accept that there are things about his initial theory which are out of date, and I personally believe that the concepts of oxygen deprivation and obsessing over muscle tension need to be set aside. Dr Sarno himself was known to say in his later years that TMS might as well stand for The MindBody Syndrome, because it covers so much more than pain in the fibrous muscle tissues.

    As I wrote in one of those links I gave you above, it is a neuroscientific fact that our brains are in charge of every single physical sensation and every single physiological process in our bodies. Pain is not generated where it is felt. All you need to do is look up Phantom Limb Pain to learn the truth of this, and to understand that the pain is the result of emotional trauma.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2024
    Ellen likes this.
  12. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    When Dr. Sarno coined the term Tension Myositis Syndrome he was not referring to muscle tension. Here is what he wrote in Healing Back Pain:

    Tension is a word that is widely used and means different things to different people; in my work and in this book, the disorder is called Tension Myositis Syndrome. The word tension is used here to refer to emotions that are generated in the unconscious mind and that, to a large extent, remain there. These feelings are the result of a complicated interaction between different parts of our minds and between the mind and the outside world. Many of them are either unpleasant, painful or embarrassing, in some way unacceptable to us and/or society, and so we repress them. . . . To sum up, the word tension will be used here to refer to repressed, unacceptable emotions."
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2024
  13. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Duggit to the rescue - thank you, my friend :)
  14. dillon95

    dillon95 New Member

    Yeah I definitely have mental tension as well but that inevitably leads to physical muscle tension for me. Maybe I don’t have tms and I just simply have muscle tension, but the muscle tension is a result of constant muscle contraction symptoms that result from anxiety.
  15. dillon95

    dillon95 New Member

    Thank you for the response. I think once I read through his book things will become clearer. And I agree, Alan Gordon failed to explain some fundamental concepts of the tms theory and reading briefly through Dr Sarnos stuff made me realize that there’s more to it then I was told. I even saw a therapist that works for Alan many years ago and she basically just repeated the same thing over and over saying that the pain is not being generated for a physical reason and my nerves are over sensitive but not giving any other information. Very surface level.
  16. Diana-M

    Diana-M Well known member

    Hi @dillon95 -
    You are dead on. Anxiety is at the root of this. And anxiety is caused by fear. And the fear that causes TMS began in childhood. So go back… try to find the roots of your fear/anxiety. Then, you can calm your whole being.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  17. dillon95

    dillon95 New Member

    Thank you and yes I am journaling to try to see if I can find any repressed emotions. Hopefully I’ll get somewhere eventually.
    Diana-M likes this.
  18. Diana-M

    Diana-M Well known member

    I wish you luck! Hope you feel better!
  19. Booble

    Booble Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think it depends.
    For me I was drawn to TMS because I can feel that the muscles are tight in the areas of pain and yet I can't release them consciously.
    I only learned later that the "tension" in TMS isn't supposed to mean muscle tension. Regardless, it brought me to TMS and Sarno's theories and the solutions work very well for me.

    So, I'm more into old school Sarno and the mind-body connection where the mind does create physical effects that then we experience.

    I haven't read Alan Gordon and I'm not one for somatic tracking as I personally don't think it pairs well when you have both TMS and health anxiety.
    I'll assume most TMS experts will say that they are the same thing and from the same root cause but I think the health anxiety is an added component. Some people feel pain from TMS reason and they are bothered by the pain but they don't catastrophize it to mean they must have something deadly.
    When you have TMS with a big dollop of health anxiety you are the lucky winner of pain and fear of the worst case scenario of death and disease.
    Probably have the same overlapping root causes but still some can have one without the other.
    Baseball65 likes this.
  20. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Just a comment from a similar soul. I too don't do the somatic tracking thing...and like you @Booble , I feel like it's in conflict with Sarno and here's why; If I understand Sarno, ANY energy focused on my Body is part of the problem. Having had OCD , it's like part of the 'ritual' of checking and rechecking. Just like the health anxiety thing... no amount of being told 'You're OK, there's nothing wrong with you' is ever sufficient....even if I believe it, then the mind goes "Ok...but what about....?"
    and that telling myself the pain is OK? I feel like that is an engraved invitation for it to STAY. I want it to Leave..and right soon!

    Now.. I did read Gordon's stuff here on the wiki and there is some good stuff in there that DOES tie in well with Sarno...One is the similar to Sarno's 'turn your mind to a problem when you feel the pain' and that is Gordon's 'When you feel the pain immediately ask yourself "What am I afraid of right now?". I used that and it was helpful at turning my mind to the psychological. Another one I learned from a video...THANK the pain for being there... "I know you're trying to protect me and I appreciate it, but I can handle this without your help"...Once again, this is much like Sarno's 'talking to your brain'...it was a good tool.

    I agree with @Booble. I have had both and they might serve the same purpose, but they are rarely simultaneous. My last little event I was certain was TMS from the first moment, but i never once thought anything was 'wrong' with me (physically)

    All in all, I know people have recovered with both methods, but I'd do one and stick to it...that way you'll know what does and doesn't work for you...and the Problem with the regular medical world is 'one size fits all' and that's why they don't like us people with pain....were too different and they just don't have time to deal with us and still make their monstrous profit margins.
    Booble likes this.

Share This Page