You've been hearing, reading and learning more about it, and you think that you too may have TMS. What should you do next? Below are some basic steps that the TMS community has put together to help you get started on the right track. There is a lot of information on this page and it may seem a little overwhelming at first. If TMS is a brand new concept for you then to get the most out of the ideas on this page we recommend you start with reading a John Sarno book such as Healing Back Pain or The Mindbody Prescription.
1. See a doctor. You may be suffering from a serious structural medical condition rather than (or in addition to) TMS. Failure to rule this out can obviously have very serious consequences (for example, cancer can cause back pain). You may also find the following YouTube video helpful. It was produced by Dr. Howard Schubiner to help people decide whether his online TMS recovery program would be appropriate for them:
2. Learn the basics of TMS. A great place to start is with the abcnews 20/20 segment on TMS. To learn more, the Introduction to TMS page has a terrific description of TMS.
3. Buy and carefully read a book by Dr. Sarno or any other TMS book. When asked specifically about which book they would recommend reading first, several people suggested that Healing Back Pain was the most readable and easy to grasp. However, because Healing Back Pain focuses heavily on back pain, several members suggested The Mindbody Prescription. One member specifically said that because back pain wasn't the main factor for her, she could relate much better to the stories in The Mindbody Prescription.
You may also want to invest in an audio version of the books. Many people find that being able to listen to them over and over is exceedingly helpful. Also, if you have already read both Healing Back Pain and The Mindbody Prescription, don't stop there. Reading and rereading books about TMS is a core part of the treatment for TMS. You can find links to more books to read in our Books & DVDs page.
4. Visit our Q&A with an expert section. Asking a question there won't establish a doctor-patient relationship between you and the expert, so it will be important to still have your own doctor and therapist to monitor and direct your care. However, some of the best known TMS doctors and therapists are participating in the project, so the general information that you get there will be first rate.
5. Read Success Stories. Dr. David Schechter writes, “An ongoing theme with people who successfully heal their pain is an ability to connect to the stories of other successful patients or case examples from one of the books. The ability to see yourself in these examples makes the diagnosis much more real.” (p.21 of the The MindBody Workbook)
6. Connect with other TMSers. It's helpful to know there are people just like you who have your exact same symptoms, who have had their lives changed by the discovery of TMS.
- Check out the TMS/PPD Forum. Receive support from other TMSers.
- Join our weekly Online TMS Chat Room. It meets for one hour every Saturday and is a terrific place to receive support and guidance for your TMS/PPD journey.
7. Go through our Structured Educational Program. It is online and completely free. The program is 6 weeks and provides a day by day guide to recovering from TMS. The program is made entirely by TMSers and consists of techniques and approaches that helped us recover.
8. Review the Daily Reminders from Healing Back Pain:
- The pain is due to TMS, not to structural abnormalities
- The direct reason for the pain is mild oxygen deprivation
- TMS is a harmless condition, caused by my repressed emotions
- The principle emotion is my repressed anger
- TMS exists only to distract my attention from the emotions
- Since my back is basically normal there is nothing to fear
- Therefore physical activity is not dangerous
- And I must resume all physical activity
- I will not be concerned or intimidated by the pain
- I will shift my attention from the pain to emotional issues
- I intend to be in control - not my subconscious mind
- I must think psychological at all times, not physical.
9. Accept your TMS and make peace with it. Doing so will take away the power it has over you. Despite the physical and emotional pain that it causes us, many recovered people would argue that ultimately it is doing us a favor by making us address issues we push to the back of our minds (but fail to process properly), allowing us to grow, heal and move on. TMS can act as an emotional barometer in this respect.
10. Start Journaling. Sarno says that we must stop thinking physically and start thinking emotionally, there is usually an emotional reason to be found when episodes of pain begin. In this respect Journaling is one of the most important things that you can do to help yourself heal. Most TMS books describe both the justification for and the process of journaling. You can learn all about different techniques for journaling in our "How do I journal?" page.
11. Try reprogramming your subconscious. If you are afraid of the pain returning, it almost certainly will but if you can retrain your subconscious and break the cycle then you stand a good chance of beating TMS. The wiki has researched positive affirmations and developed a page designed to inform people about affirmations and self talk.
12. Meditate. A great way to relieve stress and tension in your body is to meditate daily and practice mindfulness or some form of yoga. The wiki has compiled a list of all the medical research that suggests meditation practice can be beneficial to a person's health. Not sure how to meditate. Check the How do I Meditate page. This page has easy to follow methods that will have you meditating in no time.
13. Try and eradicate the fear by reading literature that supports the TMS theory. For example, The New England Journal of Medicine featured an article about this very topic, we are told that: Lumbar MRIs were done on ninety-eight people with no history of low back or leg pain. Thirty-six percent had normal discs at all levels, 52 percent had a bulging disc at one or more levels, 27 percent had a disc protrusion and 1 percent had an extrusion. Their conclusion: "The discovery by MRI of bulges or protrusions in people with low back pain may frequently be coincidental." Read the full article here.
Also take a look at Dr. Schubiners website, in particular his What is MindBody Syndrome, part 1 and part 2. Dr. Schubiner makes a very useful comment in part 2 about phantom limb syndrome where amputees feel pain in a limb that has been removed due to the sensitised nerves continuing to send signals to the brain which are interpreted as pain. This is powerful information to help you understand TMS.
13. Try and discover your personal TMS triggers. By identifying them you will be able to work on removing them. TMS can be perpetuated by conditioning and so it's important to understand how this affects you personally.
14. Visit a TMS Practitioner. If you need confirmation of your self diagnosis or just support from a professional who understands TMS, visit a TMS Doctor or Therapist. Some people with persistent TMS may benefit from talking to a good psychologist who believes in the mind-body connection. As of February 2012 there are over 100 practitioners throughout the world who may be able to help you in your recovery.
15. Be patient. Some people have read Healing Back Pain and been cured overnight: these people are in the minority. Other people say that 6 weeks is the magic milestone, and many people do see an improvement in that time. For a lot of people though the recovery process can take months or even years. But don't despair; the good news is that you can recover completely.
16. Be flexible in your approach: TMS is a tricky condition and there is no "one size fits all" solution; some of the items on this page may have a better result for you than others.
17. Re-introduce physical activity gradually. Apart from being good for your body (and mood) it sends a strong message to your subconscious that you are not going to be beaten by your TMS. Check out Q&A: How do I know that it's safe to resume normal activities?
18. Visit other pages like these three to get other people's perspectives:
19. Learn how to navigate around the wiki. There are a lot more great pages that will help in your recovery. The easiest way to navigate is by using the site outline on the left side of the page or the search box in the top right of the page.
Finally don't become obsessed with TMS and your recovery from it: if your pain becomes aggravated take a pain killer, rest for a while but don't agonize over it - go out and live your life!