Our mission is to contribute to the research, diagnosis, treatment and understanding of TMS, Mind Body Medicine, and Autonomic Overload Syndrome. Please read our disclaimer.
What is Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, TMS, and AOS?
Chronic pain is characterized by persistent pain that continues in parts of the body long after the typical duration of pain after a common injury or accident.
In many cases chronic pain begins with an injury or accident or is triggered by such an event like a car accident or infection. The pain lingers on past the average healing period and in many cases gets worse. Diagnosis is typically very difficult as possible causes could be as diverse as cancerous tumors, infection, mercury or lead poisoning, fractures, or lyme disease.
Many people however suffer from chronic pain without any specific injury, accident, or internal medical problem. Interestingly, chronic pain sufferers are alarmingly young, ages 30-50, which tends to rule out degenerative diseases and aging as the cause. Typical chronic pain patients suffer from a variety of symptoms including migraine headache, lower back pain, neck pain, knee pain, sciatia, and carpal tunnel in the wrists are just some of the more common tender points.
Other common terms for chronic pain include fibromyalgia and TMS which is an acronym for Tension Myositis Syndrome coined by Dr. John Sarno M.D. The TMS approach is the first approach that addresses emotional tension as a likely catalyst of the chronic pain symptoms. TMS is not supported by the mainstream medical community. Because of this, many patients arrive at the TMS approach as a last resort after all traditional methods have failed.
There are other symptoms that are often related to TMS symptoms including tension headaches, migraine headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, TMJ, irritable bowel syndrome, carpal tunnel or RSI, obsessive compulsive disorder, hives and urticaria, and depression. Having had experience with these other symptoms in addition to pain in the common tender points is an indicator that one might be suceptible towards the TMS response.
Quantum Leap towards relief
Perhaps the greatest advancement in recent years in understanding and treating chronic pain and fibromyalgia, are the contributions of Dr. John Sarno M.D. in theorizing the connection of physical pain with its roots in emotional tension. This is what Dr. John Sarno calls TMS or Tension Myositis Syndrome. Other practitioners have called it AOS or Autonomic Overload Syndrome, which for some people simplifies and better describes a confusing condition.
TMS / AOS theory dictates that emotional tension in the unconscious causes the autonomic nervous system to decrease blood flow to muscles, nerves, and tendons which then causes oxygen deprivation, abnormal function, pain, and spasms in the affected areas. This is called a mind body reaction similar to when a person blushes when presented with an embarrassing situation. The body pushes extra blood to the face when the person is faced with challenging emotions.
Traditional medical treatments for chronic pain and fibromyalgia typically involve prescription drugs and surgery. In some cases MRI’s reveal a possible structural abnormality and surgery is recommended. Unfortunately, many chronic pain patients have bounced from specialist to specialist and have undergone multiple surgeries and prescription drug therapies with no relief whatsoever.
Back surgery has a tremendous failure rate in reducing or curing symptoms of back pain. Why is this? In many cases the patient ends up in worse shape than before the operation. The reason for this is that many people with back pain undergo MRI scans that reveal bulging or herniated discs. It then appears that the pain is caused by a structural problem and that surgery to correct it would be the proper cure. A critical statistic in back pain research reveals that there is are a significant percentage of the population with the same bulging and herniated discs, but these people are not experiencing chronic debilitating pain. In fact, it would be very likely that if a random cross section of the pain free general population were to undergo MRI scans, that many of these would reveal the same structural abnormalities that chronic pain patients exhibit.
Therefore this conclusion would dictate that there are other factors other than structural abnormalities that contribute towards the chronic pain body. It is then very important for the patient to consider if their personality traits exhibit those of the classic TMS / AOS personality profile.
Understanding TMS / AOS theory is the first vital step towards making a full recovery. Many TMS patients arrive in the care of Dr. John Sarno in New York City, or his protg’ Dr. David Schechter in Los Angeles after having exhausted every other possible means of treatment possible.
Fortunately, the TMS / AOS diagnosis is the best diagnosis as the symptoms are benign and the patient returns to normal health with no permanent damage or injury. The sad thing is that most patients have already wasted tens of thousands of dollars on other treatments only to realize finally that the TMS / AOS approach is the most inexpensive, fastest, and cost effective means towards making a dramatic recovery.
How does TMS / AOS cause physical pain?
TMS / AOS is the process in which the autonomic nervous system reduces blood flow to a specific area of the body in reaction to an emotional response. The reduced blood flow results in oxygen deprivation, waste product build up and then pain. This reaction is similar to when someone who is embarrassed blushes and turns red in the face. A strong emotional response causes the autonomic nervous system to pump more blood to the face even though the symptom of having a red face doesn’t really benefit the person in that situation.
The reduction of blood flow to the TMS tender points and painful areas of affliction have been measured in more recent studies done with TMS patients. Once the pattern or association of emotions and pain has been determined, patients experience restored blood flow to the affected areas with no long term damage. TMS is benign.
We generally prefer the term AOS or Autonomic Overload Syndrome to TMS or Tension Myositis Syndrome. The reason for this is because it better describes what it really is. Tension Myositis Syndrome is the term given by Dr. John Sarno and so for the sake of continuity, we mention both terms when describing Mind Body chronic pain and it's related other forms.
Autonomic Overload Syndrome is exactly how it sounds. It appears that the human body's capacity for storing or wherehousing emotions, has a a limit. Just as when you fill your gas tank in your vehicle, if you don't remove the pump, gasoline will spill over and drip down the side of your vehicle melting your paint job. The autonomic nervous system seems to be busy with its normal tasks like regulating blood pressure, heartbeat, breathing, etc. When we overload our emotional storage capacity, our autonomic nervous system responds to these difficult emotions by spilling out into full blown physical symptoms. Overload of difficult and painful emotions = overload of difficult and painful symptoms. This is why TMS / AOS pain is related to Irritable Bowell Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue, and Hives and Urticaria. Irritable bowell and Hives are typically the body's emergency response towards eliminating a dangerous toxin or allergin that has entered the body. These toxins are actually toxic emotions that are not being addressed and are overloading the autonomic nervous system.
Why is TMS / AOS so hard to beat?
TMS / AOS is difficult for many to beat partially because there are so many competing viewpoints on what causes chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and TMS. Everyone seems to have a guru or healer that has a special recipe for relief. In most cases traditional methods like chiropractic, massage, accupuncture, and surgery, are all methods that provide relief and do work, but the pain always seems to come back. When the pain comes back at a different location, this is a good indicator that you could be dealing with TMS. Many patients can't make up their mind as to which approach they want to commit to and so they never let go of structural issues as the source of their pain and so their results are slow.
Manual manipulation of the painful tender points usually results in improvement in pain because the tissue has been manipulated to push out waste product and pull fresh blood to the painful area. The only problem with this, is that if the pain is due to TMS and an emotional response, the autonomic nervous system continues cutting off blood flow to the tender points and the pain returns within 24-48 hours. Chiropractic and accupunture often provide longer relief but if emotional issues are at the core, the pain and symptoms will always find a way to return.
The TMS / AOS approach is rooted in sound theory and is a proven method for making a total recovery. A non-peer reviewed 2005 study by Dr. David Schechter at the Seligman Medical Institute (SMI), co-authored with institute director Arthur Smith, PhD, found that treatment of TMS achieved a 57% success rate among patients with chronic back pain. In other cases, TMS / AOS patients make a dramatic recovery only to have frequent relapses back into episodes of chronic pain. Dr. John Sarno's open invitation to enhance and improve on his theory and techniques has allowed us to take him up on the challenge. It is in our experience that there are a few adjustments and enhancements that need to be made to improve the speed and depth of the recovery process. We encourage any TMS / AOS patients to supplement their TMS and AOS treatment with our MBI Approach and related materials to get the results they desire.
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