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Dr. Zafirides How Emotions Affect Our Body: Chronic Pain

Discussion in 'Mindbody Blogs (was Practitioner's Corner)' started by Peter Zafirides, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. Peter Zafirides

    Peter Zafirides Physician

    Hi everyone,

    I dedicated this week's podcast to the very latest research on emotions and chronic pain. I discussed the Northwestern University study as well as a brand new mood/pain study just published from researchers in Israel:


    Science is catching up to what all of have known to be true for a long time!!

    I hope you find the podcast helpful.

    Dr. Zafirides
    MorComm, Livvygurl and veronica73 like this.
  2. quert

    quert Guest

    Thanks for proivding such a clear explanation of those two studies. It is very encouraging to see the science finally catch up and validate the TMS theory. My favorite line was when you said, where pain starts may not have anything to do the site of the injury. So many people relate their chronic pain to some old injury that they suffered years ago. Hopefully studies like this will help people see the true cause of their pain. Of course the title of the study (Chronic Pain is All in Your Head) may turn some people off. I am sure the Fibro groups would probably have a negative response to this. I have always wondered why people are so resistant to the TMS approach. It's probably just their unconscious putting up resistance to have the truth and the emotions become realized.

    The most interesting thing you mentioned in the segment was the Israeli study that showed that people who watch terrorist acts on TV have an increase of physical symptoms. This seems to fit in line with what Dr. Schubiner said about the autonomic nervous system (ANS) activating the fight, flight, freeze mechanism. These people see this very stressful and intense event and they don't really have an outlet for their emotions so it turns into physical symptoms.

    It seems like Existential Psychotherapy could also provide a lot of insights here on what happens when one of the core issues is thrust upon us.
  3. Peter Zafirides

    Peter Zafirides Physician


    You are quite welcome. I am happy to know you found the information helpful.

    I think there are very clear existential concerns in the Israeli study that may be having an impact on the physical pain. The critical part of existential therapy is that these existential concern are part of the Human Condition. We all feel the anxiety of our existence. For some of us however - when we get too close to the core of that anxiety - Mortality, Isolation, Meaning and Freedom - we start to feel the pain, both emotionally (with anxiety and/or depression) or physically (PPD/TMS).

    We are all in this together, my friend. It is just, for some of us, we tend to feel it more than others....

    Be Well,
    Dr. Z
  4. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member

    Dr. Z

    I have a quick question for you. I have been having chronic pain for 8.5 weeks not. The pain is in the facia on my legs and there is a spot on my stomach. I went through severe (and I mean severe) anxiety when a doctor diagnosed me with Fibromalagya four months ago. Then I was depressed for about a month. The original doc who diagnosed me withdrew her diagnosis, so I saw a second doctor, who has the condition who bet his retirement I didn't have it. And today I finally met with a pain specialist, who said I have fibro-like symptoms.

    All that said I also have B6 Toxicity and abruptly stopped a medication that helps improve serotonin all around the same time. I realize this is TMS and brough on by all the trama over the last 4 months. Wondering if you had any insights?

    Thank you,
  5. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I do know that Dr Sarno regards and treats fibro as a more intense or fully developed form of TMS and says he has treated it successfully using the same methods that he uses to treat TMS patients. He then adds that his fibro patients recover at about the same rate as his TMS patients. It sounds as though fibro is TMS writ large. I don't have a copy handy, but I seem to recall reading this in Dr. Sarno's Healing Back Pain. Sure you can find it in the index. But if this is true, and fibro is merely a more intense form of TMS, you shouldn't be afraid of your doctor's diagnosis since it should respond successfully to standard TMS therapy. Of course, as Matthew always insists, you should rule out any more serious physical ailments by first seeing a conventional doctor.
  6. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member

    Thanks for the quick response. I've had the pain symtoms for just nine weeks. So I am in the early stages of TMS. So if it is fibro, which no doctor would say for sure, I am thinking it may be a less severe form of TMS. All that said, I know I have a lot of work to do and that this is a journey. Glad to hear the recovery time is the same.

    My best,
  7. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    No. Quite the opposite: Fibro is a more intense form of TMS. Whereas TMS patients have pain and sensitivity at a few pressure points in the body, like the lower lumbar region or behind the knee or on top of the shoulders, someone with Fibro has pain or sensitivity when pressure is applied to I seem to recollect 11 out of 19 or so pressure points. Dr Sarno believes TMS and Fibro are both essentially the same condition; but Fibro is a more intense form of TMS and responds to the same body-mind treatment. I believe women are 9 or 10 times more likely than men to develop Fibro too. Dr Sarno and others believes this has to do with personality type. But I'm sure someone on this forum has a lot more information about Fibro than I have at my disposal. I do know a woman - a retired teacher - who has been diagnosed with Fibro by the medical doctors at Kaiser-Permanent and I always encounter her out hiking on the game preserve with the aid of a walking stick. She says she has pain in her left shoulder and pain and weakness in her left leg. From her slow gait and general appearance, it seems as though Fibro affects her whole body as well as her mental outlook. She's very, very depressed and has some kind of an ongoing emotional conflict with a grown daughter.

    In any event, I do know that Dr Sarno uses the same methods to treat Fibro as he does other forms of TMS and has achieved positive results with patients diagnosed with that condition.
  8. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member

    Thanks for the note!

    I don't disagree that it's a more intense form to TMS. However, because I have been dealing this for only 9 weeks, where most fibro suffers go years w/o treatment, I am hoping my recovery will be less intense. All that said, I have lots to work out in my unconsious. And yes, I am a perfectionist, people pleaser etc.
  9. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    I can't remember where I read it...it may have been in The Divided Mind, Dr. Sarno's most recent book, where he says that fibromyalgia is the most severe form of TMS. In this book, Chapter 7 is written by a Dr. Andrea Leonard-Segal, a rheumatologist (I've heard these are the doctors diagnosing fibromyalgia) who says:

    "I think of the patient with fibromyalgia as the most seriously affected with TMS and other patients as having less severe TMS. It is almost as though those with fibromyalgia have so many issues from which the pain distracts them, that they accumulate pain in many locations as their defense mechanism. "

    I found this chapter to be particularly enlightening because though I haven't been technically diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I think I likely could be. It's a good thing I never let a doctor label me with it though, because I personally believe it's just a name they give to you when they can't find a pathological reason for your pain. I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Sarno in that it is a TMS equivalent.

    Dr. Schubiner also talks about fibromyalgia being a mind-body syndrome in his workbook Unlearn Your Pain (my current endeavor :)).
  10. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member

    Yes, I am definately getting passed that label. I don't really think I fit the bill, it's more like nerve pain I am dealing with. That label through me into six weeks of unbearable anxiety and the minute the anxiety stopped the pain started. Almost to the day! I think my unconsious has a lot of rage that I've never dealt with. Of course the pain was sent to distract me. Dipping into these emotions even journaling is causing me headaches. Hmmmm.......

    We can unlearn our pain!!!
  11. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    It's interesting that you brought up Unlearn Your Pain, because Dr. Schubiner actually conducted a study that showed the TMS approach is effective at treating fibromyalgia.

    While fibro is just a more severe form of TMS, is doens't mean you still can't recover. As Schubiner's study shows and the quote from Dr. Sarno people with fibro still have the same level of success.
    veronica73 likes this.
  12. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member

    Thanks Forest. I keep hearing that and every day I do feel a little less pain. It's actually scary - like can this be for real. Time will tell. I really don't think I have fibro. I don't have the fatigue and brain fog folks talk about but I am having trouble shedding the label (or I was).

    I am getting back to the real me slowly but surly. Healing from TMS take time and courage.
  13. crimslock

    crimslock Peer Supporter

    G'Day Explorer,

    I have notice your health problems are very similar to mine. My pain started to the day when my anxiety stopped. It switched. I have noticed i never have full blown anxiety problems and servere pain at the same time. That to me proves Sarno theory, that they are both TMS, a method the brain deploys for distraction. I too was given the fibro label from doctors, natural paths and massage therapist. But i have more nerve pain than fibro symptoms. Explorer thank you for your post because i am finding sanity and comfort knowing someone is experiencing the same mysterious things i do. We will be pain free soon...TMS is real, shout it on the mountains....
  14. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member

    Hi there,

    Yes they are. I've only had the pain for 9 weeks and the less anxious I become, telling myself it's TMS not fibro, that dreaded label, the better I feel and the less pain I have. Also, no doctor "really" said I have fibro as the first doc who said that withdrew the claim, then the fibro expert, who has fibro said, absolutely not, then a third pain doc I saw said fibro-like pain.

    So I don't know if it's fibro or not, I really don't fit the bill. I don't have all the pain points, fatigue or fog. What the heck is fibro any way. If you ask folks on the site it's just another form of TMS. I don't know why docs throw that label around so much. It is terrifying on the blogs how much you hear people suffering. When I first go the original diagnosis found people with it who were dancing and running and completely symptom free. This helped with my sanity.

    I didn't mention this on the site but a blood test also showed that I have Vitamin B Toxicity. This causes a good bit of never pain and I am only in week three of detox from the supplements. I wasn't taking large doses but some how became toxic.

    Nerves tend to take the longest to heal, or so I am told. I do feel less pain every day as I go through the process. I am also eating right, and taking care of myself. I don't invite trouble or worry so much about other people's problems anymore as I tend to be a fixer.

    We will HEAL and yes TMS is real! I've had it all my life looking back at other things I was treated for. All TMS. The mind is so tricky. As Sarno said, information is the power to heal.

    Let me know how things are going. You'll find that lots of folks including Steve and Forest were given the label fibro and they are 100% pain free.

  15. crimslock

    crimslock Peer Supporter

    Susan i too was told i had B6 problems and adrenal glands issues so on so on...I spent thousands and i mean over $10k on all this medical, natural, alternate etc therapies.. Guess what, it did nothing. What a waste of money and time/energy. I still hold a lot of anger/resentment about that. Its so disgusting to know that healing is so so simple (well sort of simple/hard) but the medical world shun it and make trillions of dollars out of peoples suffering. Ok i am getting hot under the collar grr. For years people have gotten rich of me and my wife. They would use emotional black mail to sell their products and services. When you haven't slept for days and are in the most terrible pain, you will do anything to get better. Words could never express how thankful/grateful that my God lead me to Sarno/TMS... I get over come with emotions thinking what Dr Sarno has done for me. I was in a real bad way, and i mean real bad way before i learnt the Sarno/TMS therapy. Its amazing i have never met the man and never will but he has had a major positive impact on my life, my wife's life, my friends and family life. What a blessing!!!!!
    p.s. i just went for a bike ride to the beach, a swim at the beach and then a bike road home. I haven't been able to do that for over 3 years>>>>
    DanielleMRD likes this.
  16. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member

    Chrimslock that's wonderful!!!! And I agree with you whole heartedly that there are people who will take advange of people in chronic pain. I get angry about it as well, then I think it's only money. People with cancer and other severe diseases also get taken advange of and I am thankful what I have is TMS and nothng more. Just yesterday I learned of a 3rd person in my circle that has cancer.

    I too am so greateful to Sarno and the folks on the wiki. I was in a bad way too thinking I've run out of options.

    I am in the early stages of my recovery and I am trying not to put a timeline on the outcome. Today I woke up and I feel very good with only a small amount of pain. Tomorrow may be different with more pain but it's just about today for me.

    Again, kudos to you for doing the bike ride. I am walking and feeling good about that. I visualize myself doing a tri-athelon some day. :cool:
  17. Peter Zafirides

    Peter Zafirides Physician


    I think that "Fibromyalgia" is a syndrome created to make the medical community feel like they can label something that they can't figure out.

    The diagnosis of Fibromyalgia has more to do with the anxiety of the physician than the disorder afflicting the patient.

    Please don't put that much trust in doctors... I don't.

    Always question your doctors. The good ones will never be offended.

    And if the doctor gets offended because you dare to be a participant in your health, FIND A NEW ONE!

    Never, ever doubt your strength...ever!

    Dr. Z
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  18. Explorer

    Explorer Well known member

    Hi Dr. Z:

    Thank you for your response. You are so right and doctors sometimes don't realize how suggestive patients can be. I now know there is really no such thing as fibro and I am on the up swing, however, my healinig is not linear. The TMS diagnosis takes a lot of self reflection and dealing with things I just pushed down into a dark space.

    People keep telling me when I recover this will be the best thing that has happened to me because I will feel so much joy. I am so very hopeful.

    Best regards,

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