How to Heal from Mysterious Back / Body Pain (Mind-Body Syndrome)
Do you sometimes wonder why out of the blue, you have a mysterious back pain acting up or difficulty breathing and swallowing that you have no explanation of? You might think it was the food you ate recently, or your sleeping position, or a sign of aging. Allow me to solve the mystery for you.
What is Mind-Body Syndrome / Tension Myositis Syndrome?
The scientific term for mysterious body pain is actually called Mind-Body Syndrome or Tension Myositis Syndrome. It is a condition in which unconscious emotional issues (primarily rage) initiate a process that causes physical pain and other symptoms. Basically, the MBS/TMS process is when stress comes in from the outside world. If stress levels are too high and you have been enduring it for too long, symptoms result.
Knot in abdomen, headache or blushing are examples of physical reaction to stress. MBS/TMS is just a more powerful and enduring form.
Dr. John E Sarno's theory suggests that the unconscious mind uses the autonomic nervous system to decrease blood flow to muscles, nerves or tendons, resulting in oxygen deprivation and metabolite accumulation, experienced as pain in the affected tissues.
How do I Heal Mind-Body Syndrome / Tension Myositis Syndrome?
Step 1: Recognise and believe that you have a Mind-Body Syndrome and not a structural abnormality
You may have X-Rays or MRI to back up the structural abnormality. However, most people over the age of 40 will have minor spine abnormalities even when they have no symptoms. The table below shows the degenerative spine imaging findings in patients who do not have any symptoms.
This is just part of being old so don’t be overly worried and think that you need surgery just cause the MRI stated some issue. Your true underlying issue could be in the brain that is causing the pain instead.
Next you need to understand what is MBS/TMS all about. In summary, your symptoms are all due to mild oxygen deprivation, which is harmless but can cause very severe symptoms. When and where you have the pain is not important. It does not matter. You are going to change your brain's programming by thinking about certain things every day until the pain stops.
Since MBS/TMS is a very deep topic, I would suggest you get either "Healing Back Pain" or "The Divided Mind". I personally have read both and they both played an integral part in the beginning phase of my healing journey. You will be surprised just how understanding and accepting MBS can do to relieve your pain.
However, it does not stop there. You have to consistently remind yourself and do other things along with it or else the pain may come back if the unconscious feelings are deep rooted. Every day, read the entire book a bit at a time and also pay close attention to details that remind you of yourself.
The purpose of education is to learn that their physical condition is actually benign and that any disability they have is a function of pain-related fear and deconditioning. Unconscious painful and threatening feelings are what necessitates the pain. They are inside you and you don’t feel them because you have trapped them inside you for too long.
Another tip which helped me is reading successful stories of people who cured their decade long pain by understanding Mind-Body Syndrome / Tension Myositis Syndrome. This made me confident that I will be able to overcome it like the others have done so as well.
Step 2: Uncover your repressed emotions by writing long essays and journaling
The 5 areas you should look at are:
1. Certain childhood experiences, such as abuse or lack of love
There are many possible sources of feelings ranging from deep rooted anger, hurt, emotional pain and sadness generated since childhood. Feelings experienced in the unconscious at any time in a person’s life, including childhood, are permanent. Physical, sexual, emotional abuse will leave large amounts of pain and sadness.
Not receiving adequate emotional support like warmth and love will also result in anger sorrow and pain. Your parents may also be very strict and disciplined you excessively with unreasonable expectations in academics or Co-Curricular Activities. All this should be included in your list.
For most people, certain personality traits are the biggest factors. If you are a perfectionist and expect a great deal of yourself, you end up self-critiquing your every action and movement to achieve perfection. In doing so, you make yourself very self-conscientious and you are likely to become very frustrated and angry internally when things don’t go your way or turn out as expected. Which is actually a very normal and common part of life. All these usually stems from feelings of inferiority.
If you have self-esteem issues, you tend to want to be a people-pleaser and be well-liked by everyone. Or you may also be the caretaker and worry for your family, friends and relatives. You may offer help to anyone and everyone but your inner child, known as the unconscious mind, doesn’t care about anyone but itself. Hence, the unconscious mind is angry at the pressures to be perfect and good to appease everyone.
3. Current life stresses and pressures
The unconscious also resents any forms of stress and pressure. Write down things that make you feel stressful. Whether it be your relationship with your significant other, family or friends, or it could be your daily responsibility like your job or any other major problems going on in your life.
4. Aging and mortality
For some, being older and closer to death makes them angry unconsciously. This could be due to being worried of looking less beautiful, unable to spend time with their loved ones, or regretting over the actions they did or did not do in the past.
5. Situations which patient experiences conscious but unexpressed anger
Sometimes, you may be so angry but unable to express it. A good example would be, assuming your boss shouted at you, you have to suck it up as shouting back and going against orders will get you fired and you could lose your source of income. Therefore, the emotions are repressed within the unconscious.
Now that you know what causes anger in your inner child, the unconscious mind, you have to sit down and think about it every day in the beginning. For me, I also had massive anxiety and fear all the time over basic day to day stuff which is unhealthy mentally. Overthinking was in my blood.
I learned that anxiety not only causes physical pain but it also causes chronic fatigue, restlessness, depression, back pains, digestive problems and symptoms of fibromyalgia. For me, part of the cause of my back pain stems from anxiety that was affecting me emotionally, physically and spiritually. I felt like I was being possessed by a demon that literally controlled my behaviour, thoughts and decisions. I knew if I wanted to heal, I needed to conquer the anxiety and I had to understand where it was coming from.
Make sure you write as much as you can to address everything. I would suggest taking about 20mins a day journaling about an event. Longer essays are recommended to force patients to examine the emotional issues in depth. You want to be diving in deep to get to the root of the problem and review them from time to time, more often in the initial stages.
A good resource that I use to assist in journalling is https://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Structured_Educational_Program. It is a free six week program designed by people who have or have had TMS. It is a multifaceted approach involving journaling and meditation exercises, along with numerous educational assignments which are designed to inform the participant about TMS and treatment methods.
Also, a point to note: it is not about fixing it. Some things or events that happened long ago in the past cannot be repaired or fixed. Rather by journaling down, you are acknowledging the situation and being aware that it causes your physical pain. By being aware of it, your pain will no longer be used as a shield to your actual emotional pain. This is to allow the ideas to shift from your conscious mind to your unconscious mind which stops the pain process in the brain.
Step 3: Resumption of a normal lifestyle
Firstly, discontinue any of your physical treatment such as chiropractor, acupuncture or physical therapy because they tend to reinforce that you have a structural abnormality for your pain. If the physical pain truly comes as a result of the mind, it should not require physical therapy to get rid of it; but rather just your brain itself.
Thereafter, once the pain is almost gone or gone, you would want to be easing into normal physical activity. This is very hard for some people as they have faced MBS/TMS for such a long time that doing such activity causes anxiety and fear.
It may take weeks or months but you have to convince your mind that you have no structural issue and have a normal back or shoulder (wherever the pain is); and that it is due to a mild oxygen deprivation when the unconscious mind uses the autonomic nervous system to decrease blood flow to muscles, nerves or tendons.
For example, my unconscious mind makes me feel that working out causes my back pain. However, I have to remind myself that it is not a structural abnormality but MBS/TMS. Thus, I try hard to not pay attention to my pain and instead, focus on the psychological things on my list. This is crucial.
There is no uniform pattern of improvement and it may take a few days to a few months to see progress and improvement. It took me a period of self-experimenting and figuring things out to know what works best.
Step 4: Seek a psychotherapist
Sometimes your emotional issues in your unconscious mind may be too deep and you need a psychotherapist to assist you. Dr. John E Sarno says 20% of his patients require psychotherapy. You could be one of them and it's not shameful to seek for external help.
I wish all of you the best in your Mind-Body healing journey. The mind is truly a powerful tool and a double-edged sword. Don't fall victim to your thoughts. Rule your mind, or it will rule you. Click here to silence the 4 kinds of inner critic in your mind and be happy. After all, what you think, you become.
How has Tension Myositis Syndrome affected you? Comment below!