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

I have muscle tension dysphonia, could I have TMS?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Jakedrum, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. Jakedrum

    Jakedrum New Member


    I'm new to this forum. I've ordered the Mind/Body prescription book by Dr John Sarno.
    While I wait for its arrival I thought it worth asking if any of you have any experience of TMS affecting the voice?

    I've been diagnosed with Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD). When I speak its like I'm trying to talk while someone is standing on my throat. I have had this building up for three years and its been acute for about a year.
    I've had doctors, surgeons and voice therapists trying to determine what is wrong. They reckon its MTD. The only treatments they offer are voice therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
    I've been attending voice therapy and doing the exercises for about a year to no effect. It can help me vocalise but it doesn't last.
    I'm on the waiting list for CBT.

    I can sing and I can do silly voices. I can't talk in what was my normal voice.

    This has become a horrid and all-consuming nightmare. It affects my whole life, at work and at home.

    I could go on about my woes. There is no need. I feel that many of you will understand the feelings I have been experiencing. I want to know if this sounds like TMS to you lot.
    Has anyone had it affect their voice?
    Did Sarno's work help?

    I look forward to reading your responses should you get the time to read my post.

    Thank you.

    Markus and IrishSceptic like this.
  2. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Hi Jake:

    Welcome to the forum. You have an interesting issue that had me recall a memory of my own. Perhaps it might help you.

    When I was younger, I used to sing quite a bit. I had a pretty good singing voice and was known for "belting it out". I had a big performance scheduled when suddenly I couldn't talk, let alone sing. I was panicked, and so my was my family. My dad (my hero) found me a voice teacher for advice and she suggested several things that brought my voice back to performance level. I was in high school and looking back, I think I was terrified of this performance and promptly lost my voice. I was also insecure and looking for attention at that time from my dad.

    You have seen a doctor which we always recommend you do, and you say nothing has happened. You can do "silly voices". I found that part interesting as perhaps there is something blocking you from "speaking your truth." Perhaps it's in your work or relationship.

    It certainly can't hurt to look into Dr. Sarno's books and suggestions. There is also a Structured Program on the wiki if after you've read the book, you see yourself. It is a wonderful exploration that will help you to find the answers you seek. It's hard to say whether or not this is TMS/PPD, but exploration of the issue through the book and also the wiki can be really helpful. You'll know. Most everyone with TMS/PPD sees themselves soon after reading the book or poking around the wiki.

    I can't tell you that you have TMS/PPD, but I do think you're moving in the right direction.

    As you explore the wiki - and if you have any further questions, please come back and ask. There is always someone to help with your questions and support you through this issue.

    Best of luck to you - hope you regain your voice again very soon.

    Markus, Jakedrum and JanAtheCPA like this.
  3. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Jake, a few years ago I had a similar problem. I went through a period at a previous job unable to speak when interviewing clients. When I opened my mouth to speak I would start to choke. I had to apologise profusely on many occasions. I would get very frustrated and anxious. At the time I was in a job that I liked but where I felt unsupported by my superiors. As a result I lacked confidence in my abilities and this is most likely why when I tried to speak, I often couldn't get the words out. I changed jobs eventually. Still working in an advisory position I was by this time much better supported and felt more confident. Whenever I started to choke I would remain calm. I always kept some water and some candy nearby. Eventually I no longer experienced any choking. This was all before I had heard of Dr Sarno so I guess I already had some awareness of the role of stress and fear in physical symptoms.

    When did this all start with you? What was going on in your life at the time?

    You mention being able to use your voice to sing and talk in silly voices. Whenever you witness these 'exceptions to the rule', you can bet there is something going on that is not physical.
    Jakedrum and JanAtheCPA like this.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Jake:

    Beach Girl mentioned the Structured Educational Program on the wiki (tmswiki.org). I would like to double-emphasize that as a great place to start. I had many different TMS symptoms over many years. Reading my first Dr. Sarno book made sense to me, but it wasn't until I started doing the SEP (and taking it seriously) that I started having a noticeable reduction of symptoms. I'm 90-100% symptom-free most of the time now (I could be 100% if I practiced more mindfulness!). In any case, it was a real life-changer.

    You've been recommended for CBT - so your medical practitioners already think that the problem could be emotional. And you already know that emotionally-based physical symptoms, by Dr. Sarno's definition, are TMS. Also called by some practitioners MBS (Mind-Body Syndrome), or sometimes PPD (Psychophysiologic Disorders) or, to use a phrase that has fallen out of favor: psychosomatic illness. Take your pick - we're not talking about a black & white condition like, say, a broken bone, it's all kind of squishy when we're talking about the brain - literally :^)

    What I'm trying to say is: if the medical pros think that CBT could help, then you might as well feel free to call it TMS, and I don't think that's a stretch!

    One thing you will learn as you study the TMS resources is that CB therapists might not understand the emotional basis of TMS. Many of our members' back stories include trying CBT without a whole lot of significant success. That's not to say that a CB therapist can't include TMS treatment in their practice - it's just that many don't know about it (yet)(!)

    Anyway, go ahead and try the Structured Ed Program - it's just reading and journaling, it's free, it can't hurt, and you will be taking action which in itself will feel good.

    There's also a page on the wiki devoted to finding a TMS practitioner in your area, and as we discussed today on the Saturday chat, many of them are available to do therapy by phone - strange but true, and many people have found help that way.

    Good luck, and keep us posted, we're rooting for you!

    Jakedrum likes this.
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Dr. Howard Schubiner is a long time staunch supporter of the PPD / TMS Peer Network and at one point even offered to donate a portion of all proceeds from his online program to our nonprofit. We ended up declining his generous offer because we know how important it is to let the public know that we are completely financially independent of all PPD / TMS practitioners and represent only Peers with PPD / TMS, but the offer was gratefully appreciated (we need people to know that we recommend his program only because it is excellent and not because it diminishes our need to get donations from other sources). Because we are a volunteer run organization, our expenses are extraordinarily low, so it isn't that hard to raise the money that we need. In general, volunteer organizations take an extremely high amount of work to set up (for example, as of today, I've sent 4259 emails from the account that I use for TMS Wiki work. I've pretty much been working on this almost full time for three years), but once you've set them up, you've created something truly amazing. As you can see from the hard work of the volunteer Forum Support Team who run this forum, we've got an amazing team. They're the people with "administrator" or "Forum Support" below their pictures.

    .... anyway ... (sorry, I can get sidetracked sometimes :)) Howard also gave us permission to use all of his blog posts wherever we want on the wiki. I thought that the original poster might find the following blog post helpful. Howard wrote it after watching "The King's Speech."

  6. Jakedrum

    Jakedrum New Member

    Thank you all of you. Your replies have been so warm and welcoming. Thank you very much.
    I do appreciate that CBT may not be as useful as I would like but its worth a try I suppose not least because its available on the NHS - I'm in the UK and for now healthcare is free, where available.

    I've started to read Dr Sarno's book 'The MindBody Prescription' and am finding that I'm nodding a lot. Really a lot. The rage, the split of conscious and unconscious especially the one where on the one side I'm concerned for others and the opposite being self-involved and narcissistic. Made me smile because it's ring of truth for me is quite loud!

    I will have a good look through the Structured Program on the wiki.
    I'm going through so much emotionally at the moment due to the loss of my speaking voice and then reading Sarno's work I realise that I have a lot of work to do.

    Thanks for the support. Thanks very much.

  7. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, we wish the absolute best for you. We've been there, too, so we know how hard and scary it is. But know this: you can recover. You've got the strength and if you keep doing the work, I have no doubt that you will get better.

    Please keep us updated to let us know how it goes. We're all rooting for you!
  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

  9. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, Georgie Oldfield is particularly good and very dedicated. I think that once you've been diagnosed, she's willing to meet with you over the phone. Her new website is http://georgieoldfield.com/
  10. Markus

    Markus Guest

    This is an old post but I will chime in. Without fail when I am stressed,or overly tired,I begin to lose voice volume and strength/it always goes away and I've never been concerned about it as I know others who get this. The most irritating thing is when I'm asked to speak up!

  11. IrishSceptic

    IrishSceptic Podcast Visionary

    How incredibly generous of Howard to make that offer but on balance you made the right call!
    More evidence he has his heart in the right place. I suppose he realises the greater importance of trying to get the message out!
    Forest and Markus like this.
  12. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for the kind words, @IrishSceptic . I love this community and the smart and independent voice it has.
  13. 6498w

    6498w New Member

    Hey Jake,

    I'm new to the forum, but not to TMS. I had debilitating back pain in my late 20's and had 0 success in curing it until I ran across Dr. Sarno's work - within 2 weeks of first reading his book, I was completely cured!

    In the las few years I noticed my voice quality deteriorating, and it began to take more and more effort to speak. When you talk about it feeling like someone standing on your throat, I can definitely relate! I was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia. Supposedly, SD is often misdiagnosed as MTD. In reality, I intellectually believe the diagnosis is a moot point, as in reality they are of the same origin - TMS!

    I say "intellectually believe", because even with my past success with eliminating my back pain, I still am having a hard time accepting 100% that my voice issue is TMS. Intellectually, it makes complete sense to me, and in The Mind Body Prescription, Dr. S. even mentions SD as a TMS equivalent.

    So I believe we are fighting the same battle, my friend. I'm guessing your voice is either a big part of your job, or at least your identity (mine is/was - I'm a singer, a realtor, and a soccer coach). I'm guessing that, because it makes sense for our brains to choose something really critical to use as a distraction. I feel your frustration - few people understand what it's like to not be able to communicate. I actually greatly preferred the excruciating back pain over the voice-loss; at least people can relate to back pain. Having difficulty talking really just leaves you lonely, even if you're surrounded by friends and family. It's a whole different type of pain.

    Bear in mind that these voice disorders are "idiopathic"; no known cause. That should tell us the MD's have no idea what they're talking about, and we need to find our solution elsewhere. They don't understand it, what caused it or what can cure it, yet they'll openly recommend treatment (that almost never works). A TMS diagnosis makes infinitely more sense than the straws the MD's grab at in trying to come up with for SD and MTD.

    So I wish you the best on your journey. It would be much appreciated if you'd reach out and let me know how you're coming....not many of us using this approach to cure our voices.

  14. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Sure sounds like TMS to me... if you can sing and do silly voices, how could it be anything but? The psychological connections are there, and you're frustrated/scared/hyper-focused on this thing... and I bet catastrophizing re: a life of silence and isolation. That's the recipe; the feedback loop that makes it continue. The white-coats can't even come up with a physical explanation to give you on this one, not even a red herring 'herniated disc' sort of thing... just a generic acronym that might as well be BMWTHGOWYSHAA (Beats me what the hell's going on with you so here's an acronym). It seems to me that when the mainstream docs prescribe CBT, that means they're floundering and figure they'll pass you on to the therapists... i.e. TMS.
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  15. lizbills

    lizbills New Member

    Hey I am recovering from MTD! Here is my story:
    Sita likes this.

Share This Page