Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS), also known as Tension Myoneural Syndrome, and Psycophysiologic Disorder (PPD)
TMS is a term coined by Dr. John E. Sarno, a professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and Attending Physician at The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center.
According to Dr. Sarno, there are emotions that our brain detects as dangerous, and responds to them by activating the survival program – that is, pain, generated within the mind itself; in the same way that the immune system is activated against cells of our own body, as is the case of auto-immune diseases, for example, rheumatoid arthritis.
He maintained that the emotions, feelings, beliefs and thoughts that the mind perceives as dangerous produce physical symptoms; something as simple and understandable as when we feel embarrassed and blush. A response that is performed neurophysiologically through an activation of the survival nervous system , the sympathetic nervous system.
He described TMS as a condition caused by a psychoneurophysiological process that produces hypoxia (oxygen deficit) in the tissues involved (muscles, ligaments, capsules and nerves). And during his last years of clinical practice he declared and showed that this condition could be extended to other pains or symptoms, such as fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines; gastrointestinal symptoms, such as heartburn … ulcer symptoms, hiatus hernia, colitis, spastic colon, irritable bowel syndrome; allergies, respiratory diseases, dermatology, such as eczema; genitourinary, such as frequent urination; gynecological, and a long list of symptoms and syndromes that now could be located within what is known as central sensitivity syndromes.
From his writings it is clear that pain is a cerebral output, something that occurs in the nervous system and, therefore, very real and not psychological. That’s right, even if in its genesis it’s just a kind of distraction maneuver of the mind to put our attention on the physical and not attend to “dangerous” emotions or feelings.
The merit of Dr. Sarno is that he was a pioneer, since he believed in his treatment and took it forward, despite the opposition of many colleagues and not having the scientific evidence that currently brings us the neurosciences, which have come to show how emotional states related to chronic stress can change even telomeres.
His treatment and his theories were so decisive that he intervened in a special hearing commission of the American Senate (“Pain Hearing 2012, Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee”), since the chronic pain in the United States (as in Spain) It is a huge economic expense, and it is considered the epidemic of the late XX and XXI century.
His work has been continued by numerous physicians’ disciples, such as Dr. Howard Schubiner, who from the SMT developed the term “Mindbody Syndrome”, or Dr. Dave Clarke, who uses the term “Stress Illness”.
And, more recently, Georgie Oldfield, a British physiotherapist, disciple of Dr. Sarno, who coined the term SIRPA (Stress Illness Recovery Pratitioners’ Association) to offer an integral approach to pain and chronic conditions, and also TMS, based on the concepts and Dr. Sarno’s therapeutics, as well as the latest contributions from the neurosciences, which have demonstrated the irrefutable relationship that emotions have with our health. Actually this is the approach that you will find in this webpage.