As a chiropractor for over 20 years, I have treated many people with recurring back and neck pain, sciatica, migraine headaches and other physical pain. X-ray and MRI results have indicated problems in their spines, including subluxation, disc degeneration, spurs, and other abnormalities, which were usually pointed to as the physical causes of the pain. Over recent years I found I wanted to learn more about the mind/body connection, so I completed a graduate program in counseling. This was when I researched tension myositis syndrome (TMS, recently renamed tension myoneural syndrome) and the corresponding theory that these findings are “normal abnormalities” that do not necessarily cause pain.
I soon began to recognize that patients who complained of pain “only when standing” or “only when exercising” could have TMS. I began to see patients in my practice who had a sudden onset of back or neck spasm so severe that it kept them from work or normal daily activities, and on inquiry found that a strong emotional stressor had usually preceded the spasm. The evidence that TMS was present in the majority of the chiropractic patients I was seeing became so obvious to me after just a few months that I decided to train with a TMS doctor to learn more. After attending his workshops, I started educating my chiropractic patients about TMS, and also developed a two-part workshop for those who could accept the diagnosis of TMS and wanted to end their pain.
I also see symptoms of TMS in my counseling clients. Chronic pain limits a person’s ability to function fully, and as a result clients may suffer depression, anxiety and other psychological maladies. If a client is open to the idea that TMS may be the cause of their pain, and undergoes a physical examination to rule out physical causes, he or she can learn how the unconscious mind is the origin of the physical pain.
The work John Sarno pioneered has helped many people who are no longer restricted by physical pain, and have gained a much deeper understanding of themselves. I look forward to the day that this information becomes common knowledge, and is utilized by healthcare professionals of all types as another tool to alleviate human suffering and decrease the enormous cost of medical care that burdens society.
Audrey Berdeski, LPC, has been a chiropractor for over 20 years and is also a psychodynamically trained, licensed psychotherapist who specializes in psychotherapy from a mind –body perspaective at Birmingham Maple Clinic in Troy, MI.