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TMS Diagnosis, how important is it? Hello, I am from Canada and new to this Forum. I have back pain

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Elbe, Mar 21, 2014.

  1. Elbe

    Elbe Peer Supporter

    TMS Diagnosis, how important is it?
    Sorry, this should have gone into the support forum, not in the discussion forum. I will get the hang of it.
    Hello, I am from Canada and new to this Forum. I have back pain for the last 13 rears since I retired. When the back pain started, I read the three Dr. Sarno books. After that, I was quite convinced that I have TMS. I am a mechanical engineer, and have a typical TMS personality. Per the "Healing Back Pain" book, it is quite important to have a proper TMS diagnosis, not just by exclusion. I had an examination by Dr. Schechter in LA, who studied under Dr. Sarno. Unfortunately it was inconclusive. His diagnosis was, I may have TMS. I worked with Dr. Sarno's teaching for a number of years. Even though the back pain stayed with me, I learned to cope with it with the help of strong pain medication. Last year I had surgery with complications for blocked bowels. After that my back pain got a lot worse and is now joined by leg pain, which is diagnosed as venus insufficiency. This can be somewhat controlled with compression stockings. As extensively verified by examinations and scans there are no other physical issues. I am quite convinced that my pains are psychological, but may be not necessarily TMS. Please note, I don't have the tenderness spots in 3 parts of my back, which per Dr. Sarno virtual all TMS patients have. Also heat will not relieve my pain, but rather make it worse. So my brain must use a different strategy than oxygen deprivation. Does anybody in this group has similar experiences? Any help will be appreciated. Elbe from Canada
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  2. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    The most important role for a doctor is for safety. A doctor is crucial to tell you that there isn't anything else going on (like cancer or an infection) that needs treatment or would make the TMS approach unsafe.

    They can also offer very powerful words to help you accept the diagnosis. It sounds like you didn't get that from your doctor. However, once safety is taken care of, if you believe it is psychosomatic, that is what is most important. Trust your gut.
    Elbe likes this.
  3. Elbe

    Elbe Peer Supporter

    Thank you Forest for your reply. I am still hoping for some specific answers to my questions. I am quite positive that my pain is psychosomatic, sine I had other psychosomatic illnesses in my life always starting after important life changes such as: 1. After entering school, started stuttering.
    2. Uncontrolled sweating after settling in Canada from Germany. Both were solved fairly easily by treatment. The stuttering by attended special classes. For the sweating a smart doctor advised me to thank my body for how well my sweat glands work. That solved it amazingly quickly, since I convinced my brain not being scared of it anymore.
    After that my brain brought out the heavy guns with debilitating back pain. My specific questions are: A. Do I have TMS, even though Dr. Schechter did not confirm it, I don't have the tender spots specified by Dr. Sarno and my pain is not lessened by application of heat.
    B. Are there other strategies for psychosomatic illnesses I can follow other than for TMS. May be my major problem is that I even though I fully believe that my pain is psychosomatic, I am not really convinced that it is TMS. Can this be the reason my pain is still there after having worked with the TMS protocol for years.
    Any help is greatly appreciated by Elbe from Canada.
  4. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Dr. Sarno uses the terms psychosomatic and TMS interchangeably, I think they are the same too. I believe Dr. Sarno says not everyone has the "tender spots" who has TMS but I can't quote the page. You may try a "SEARCH" using the term "tender spots".

    There may be some confusion from Dr. Sarno's earlier work, when he focused more on backs. Back then the TMS acronym stood for Tension Myositis Syndrome. It dealt with oxygen deprivation to muscles, tendons and ligaments. In his later work he expands his theory to cover many other ailments, physical as well as affective/emotional, i.e., anxiety, depression, OCD, etc., and the TMS acronym was changed to "THE MINDBODY SYNDROME".

    Having even a little doubt can undermine the healing process. I saw Dr. Schechter too, he told me I didn't have TMS and to get a hip-replacement. On the same trip south I also saw his therapist Donald Dubin, who told me he didn't always agree with Dr. Schechter.

    I also saw another TMS doctor in Santa Cruz, CA., Bruce Eisendorf MD, who told me it was arthritis. I was still uncertain, so I saw him again about a year later and he told me it was arthritis and TMS. This can get confusing, hence the doubt, hence the pain continues. I respect doctors because they are generally smart and can save my life, but they are human too. I've played tennis with a lot of doctor's and their calls aren't necessarily any better then others.

    G'luck and Hang In There!
    Elbe likes this.
  5. Elbe

    Elbe Peer Supporter

    Thank you (danke) tennis tom, very helpful. Dr. Sarno actually writes in his first book Healing Back Pain, p6 last paragraph: "In virtually every patient with TMS one finds tenderness when pressure is applied (palpation) to muscles in 3 parts of the back" and he describes further where theses areas are and that this consistent pattern is important because it supports the hypothesis that the pain syndrome originates in the brain.
    That is the reason I asked the question to find out the experience with this with other members. I actually had phone session with Donal Dubin for a while after I saw Dr. Schechter. He told me: " I understand everything perfectly but can't apply it." I didn't find that too helpful.
    I will keep working on this, it is a hard nut to crack, the most difficult in my whole life.
    Will keep you posted and let us know how you are proceeding.
  6. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Elbe, Have you read Dr. Sarno's two later books, "THE DIVIDED MIND" and "THE MINDBODY PRESCRIPTION"? Perhaps it was in one of those books I read that the "tender points" were not as important a TMS marker/ qualifier as previously thought, or I could be wrong on this. If I get a chance I'll try to research it. Feel free to PM me, I think they have the feature at this and we can talk in greater detail.
    Elbe likes this.
  7. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Elbe, I did a quick "SEARCH" here above and found this from Steve Ozanich , there were many more citations regarding them, I just chose this one for example:

    "Those tender points aren't in everyone, and not necessary to have TMS. I think it's just one more check-off on their TMS check-lists. No one knows why they exist. I called them TMS black holes; wingtip or toroidal vortices. All matter and time are crushed out of existence. I would guess it reveals that the ANS is in hyper-mode.


    Steve Ozanich, Oct 9, 2012 Report"
    Elbe likes this.
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Elbe, I think it's more helpful to focus on repressed emotions that are causing your symptoms
    rather than thinking about tender points or your pain.

    From your first post it seems that you do not yet believe 100 percent that your pain is
    psychological, from TMS repressed emotions. If you doubt even 1 percent your unconscious mind
    will keep the pain coming because it wants to distract you from discovering your repressed emotions.

    That sounds simple but it is really profound and the basis of Dr. Sarno's philosophy
    which has made so many people pain-free such as Steve Ozanich.

    Good luck on your TMS journey. We're all still on it, whether we healed already or are working on it.
    Elbe likes this.
  9. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think that you give a very important clue here, Elbe, about the origins of your TMS symptoms. You'll notice if you look up the Holmes-Rahe list of stressful life events that retirement is way up there in the hierarchy (right up there with death of parent, loss of job, and divorce). Any kind of transition or change is intrinsically stressful for the psyche and, in particular, the unconscious mind that is extremely conservative and seems to hold on to old programmed patterns acquired way back in early childhood and adolescence. Retirement forces readjusting to a new reality outside the boundaries of your old ingrained behavior patterns. I suspect that's why TMS appears so often at such important life changes as "retirement". But your story reveals that you're already aware of that process; at least it's on the tip of your tongue. That kind of awareness is the sort of knowledge Dr Sarno leads to a full recovery from TMS. Don't despair because you're almost there!
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
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  10. Elbe

    Elbe Peer Supporter

    Thank you All for your very helpful replies. Now the tender point issue is cleared up and I can accept 100% that I have TMS. I have in my library and read all 3 Sarno books over 10 years ago. Always though found the first one "Healing Back Pain" most easily to understand and apply, especially for back pain.
    I applied the TMS treatment method according to that book for a number of years after my back pain started 13 years ago, shortly after retirement. During that time I also had phone sessions with therapist Donald Dubin, who was recommended to me by Dr. Schechter. Unfortunately the pain did not really decrease but I rather learned to cope with it with the help of pain medication prescribed by my family doctor.
    In short, I gave up on the TMS treatment, but always stayed aware of it that my pain was psychological.
    However, my back pain got much worse after recent bowel surgery and is now joined by leg pain. I came back to give TMS treatment another go and consider myself very fortunate for having found this site with all you helpful members having been through or are on the healing journey.
  11. Elbe

    Elbe Peer Supporter

    Pain increased. Since I started on this site and got into TMS treatment again, my pain actually increased. I have read that this is a normal reaction. A strategy of the brain to keep me concentrated on the pain. I find it quite disturbing though, such as a set back and some encouragement would be welcome. I find this especially discouraging when reading about other people who learn about TMS and report that their pain is reduced by 50% in a couple of days.
  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think what you're experiencing and referring to is what the TMS experts call an "extinction burst". Quite a bit on it in Steve Ozanich's recovery autobiography, the Great Pain Deception (2011). It seems that what happens is that when you begin to get in touch with the repressed emotions behind your pain symptoms, TMS attempts harder to distract you from those unpleasant emotions by turning up the pain thermometer a couple of notches. I'm sure that this Forum has examples of this phenomenon aplenty! I guess what I'm suggesting is that it's probably a good sign because you're getting closer to the crux of your pain issues and TMS is trying to hold on. Of course, if it strengthens your confidence in the TMS diagnosis, be sure to have your symptoms checked out by a competent MD. But you might like to be aware that the phenomenon you describe is quite ubiquitous during TMS healing.
    Elbe likes this.
  13. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

  14. Elbe

    Elbe Peer Supporter

    Thank you Bruce. Your answer gives me the strength to keep on going.

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