Read on for a story of healing from chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and pain recovery with the diagnosis of TMS.
In my early twenties, I had some pretty big plans. I figured I would get a good job, meet the man of my dreams, have kids, and all would go well.
When I least expected it, excruciating back pain completely changed the trajectory of my life, and I developed the most crippling fatigue you can imagine. My life was derailed, but after learning about Tension Myositis Syndrome, I made a full recovery. If this sounds similar to your own story, you can recover too.
- What is Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS)?
- When Chronic Pain & Fatigue Ruin Your Life
- What are the Symptoms of TMS?
- What Testing for TMS is Available? (How Do I Know if I Have It?)
- How Do You Diagnose TMS?
- What Treatment is Available for TMS? (4 Things That Worked for Me)
- Healing is Possible – My Life Today
Sara’s note: This article about chronic pain is written by my friend, Stacey Townsend. I’ve been friends with Stacey for over 25 years and have personally witnessed God’s healing power in her life. If you deal with chronic pain, you absolutely need to keep reading.
What is Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS)?
Tension Myositis Syndrome, also known as Neuroplastic Pain, or Mind-Body Pain, is when the brain is causing pain, not the body. The brain is making mistakes and sending incorrect signals to the body, amplifying pain.
Dr. John Sarno, author of, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, and The Mind-Body Prescription created the term TMS.
With TMS, the brain interprets perfectly normal signals from the body as dangerous, generating pain. Recovery happens when you teach the brain to signal pain accurately.
When Chronic Pain & Fatigue Ruin Your Life
My journey with debilitating symptoms began after college when I was working in retail management. It started with back pain. I worked long hours and continually pressured myself to be the best.
One weekend in 1992, my back hurt so badly that I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep. It was the worst pain I had ever had. My doctor couldn’t find anything physically wrong, and none of the treatments I tried worked. I wore a back brace and went back to work, forcing myself to do what I could.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
A few years later, I came down with unusual body aches and intense fatigue. My doctor diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. This news left me perplexed, frustrated, and depressed. In 1997, I was forced to quit working.
Life became unbearable. I felt like a bad mom and terrible wife, and life felt pretty hopeless for years. Eventually, I learned about TMS and began working with a Pain Recovery Coach.
What are the Symptoms of TMS?
Here are some common symptoms and conditions that are usually Neuroplastic Pain, but almost any chronic pain, fatigue, or other discomfort can be TMS.
- Chronic Back Pain – the most common form of TMS
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Pressure head pain
- Chronic neck pain
- Chronic Itching
What Testing for TMS is Available? (How Do I Know if I Have It?)
How can you test to see if you have TMS? There are five diagnostic criteria; if you meet most of them, you probably have TMS.
Generally, if the pain lasts more than 6 months, it’s TMS, but it’s always best to check with your doctor to ensure nothing more is happening.
How Do You Diagnose TMS?
Normal pain is when you get injured, and TMS is when there is no injury, or you had an injury that has healed, but the pain continues.
There are 5 questions to ask yourself to determine if your pain is TMS, which are listed on my website.
Dr. Sarno noticed that most of the people he treated for chronic pain had similar personality traits and learned behavioral patterns such as:
- People pleasing
- Hyper-critical (mostly to self)
- Type A personalities
- Low self-esteem
- Worrisome or apt to ruminate
- Emotional suppression
If you have a few of these personality traits and have chronic pain, there is a good chance that your pain is TMS.
What Treatment is Available for TMS? (4 Things That Worked for Me)
Treatment is available and you can make a full recovery.
Here are four THM treatments that worked for me, and there are many more.
- Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) is the most popular method to heal TMS and worked best for me. This technique is used to teach the brain to signal pain accurately.
- Prayer and meditation can calm our nervous system and help us feel relaxed and safe.
- Journaling was a huge part of my recovery. Dr. Sarno believed that repressed emotions caused TMS, so the more we can get these out of our body, the safer our brain will feel.
- Lifestyle Changes can be made to live a healthier, calmer life. I had to stop pressuring myself all day long and learn self-compassion.
Healing is Possible – My Life Today
For decades, I thought I had chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, and something was wrong with my back. I felt hopeless and helpless while I waited for answers.
Now I know that this is not true. I had Tension Myositis Syndrome and was able to recover.
- Are you discouraged?
- Have you resigned yourself to a life with chronic pain?
- Do you find yourself making plans and then worrying that you won’t be able to keep them?
If so I want you to know that recovery is within your reach.
As a Pain Recovery Coach, I have walked alongside many others to help them recover from TMS. I went from feeling completely stuck to feeling fulfilled and empowered. I didn’t know life could be this good. I want you to know that if I was able to recover from the multitude of symptoms I had, you can too.
For readers of The Holy Mess, I’m offering the coupon code HOLYMESS20 for 20% off your first coaching package. This is for a limited time, so act now.
Stacey is a Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) certified Pain Recovery Coach and a certified Life Coach who came to this work through her healing journey with TMS. She has helped many people find their pain-free journey. Her mission is to “get the word out” that there is hope and help people recover so they can live their best lives.
This article is for information only and not intended as medical advice.