Dr Sarno / tension myositis syndrome

Discussions related to Sciatica and Leg Pain
randolph
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Dr Sarno / tension myositis syndrome

Post by randolph » Sun Dec 24, 2006 7:06 pm

Anybody ready for a discussion about Dr Sarno and tension myositis syndrome (TMS)?

The last week, I've been slogging thru his Healing Back Pain: the mind-body connection. I have to force myself to read it, both because of the poor writing, and a personal prejudice against some of his ideas. But his ideas are intriguing. Thankfully, wikipedia does an excellent job of summarizing his main ideas (google TMS, spelled out).

Dr Sarno apparently starts with the same observation that Dean notes in his books: there is very little correlation between back pain, like sciatica, and physical abnormalities that are consistent with symptoms. For instance, a person with an MRI that reveals a bulging disc is as likely to have back pain symptoms as not ... meaning ... no causal connection. Dr Sarno then goes in a different direction than Dean at this point. He claims that the reason the pain is not reliably caused by some physical abnormality, is because it has a psychosomatic source (not as bad as it sounds - simply an unconscious process). Which is to say, there is nothing physically wrong with my back, just that it hurts.

Dr Sarno also claims there is a greater correlation for those with back related problems and 4 general behavioral characteristics. TMS sufferers (which includes a whole host of back related disorders) are usually self-critical, overy responsible, perfectionistic, and prone to excessive guilt (got me on every one of those ... )

Apparently his treatment for TMS centers on:
1. simply remembering that there really is nothing wrong physically ... which means continuing to do all the things you'd normally do and not "babying" your back.
2. keeping track of your significant emotional episodes, and back pain episodes. Apparently simple awareness of which emotions trigger pain eventually puts a stop to the unconscious mental processes that cause the pain.
3. mining the subconscious for repressed emotions that are part of the causal mechanism for the body's self-inflicted pain; thus, his recommendation for psychotherapy for some.

I am intrigued by Dr Sarno's theories because my sciatica symptoms are all included in his TMS diagnosis, and I seem to fit the typical pyschological profile of the typical TMS sufferer.

While I am very reluctant to resume activities, like running, that I've stopped doing since the onset of sciatica, and who's got time and money for shrinks, I am willing to see if there are any correlations between episodes of pain and certain emotions. Never noticed anything before, but wasn't particularly watching either. Certainly, there have got to be ways to see one's repressed emotions without going to a shrink???

At any rate, the forum dedicated to TMS (tmshelp.com) is quite lively, informative, even mature compared to some forums I've visited. And apparently, Dr Sarno's newest book THE DIVIDED MIND is his best yet. Quotes available at TMS forum, see the posts by tennis tom in the "TMS in a nutshell" thread. Geez, got to make another trip to Barnes and Noble ... well somebody's got to do it!! :D (Added later: Folks at the TMS forum are saying, no need to buy the newest book ... his other books, including Healing Back Pain, available at my local library, contain all his same, foundation ideas ... oh well ... no trip to Barnes and Noble)

Dean, I recall several months ago when we were talking about the mind/body connection, that you successfully applied Sarno's ideas to a persistent insomnia you were suffering from. How are you sleeping these days?

Randolph

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Re: Dr Sarno / tension myositis syndrome

Post by Woodchuck » Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:51 pm

randolph wrote: Dr Sarno also claims there is a greater correlation for those with back related problems and 4 general behavioral characteristics. TMS sufferers (which includes a whole host of back related disorders) are usually self-critical, overy responsible, perfectionistic, and prone to excessive guilt (got me on every one of those ... ) Randolph
I fit all of those characteristics too ;) I will check out his book and be watching this thread.

Ken

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Post by randolph » Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:15 pm

Did you get a chance to check out Sarno's work, woodchuck?

I've been working with it for a week ... and have made some tremendous breakthrus: this morning, walked out for 30 mins then jogged back in, and now, several hours later ... no problems. That's like absolutely incredible!!

On pg 82 in HEALING BACK PAIN, is a list of 12 practical reminders, which applied, develop a new relationship with the pain, including sciatica pain. Turns out, most of what I've been doing, including the frame of mind I've had in doing the exercises, has been keeping me on a plateau of being partially disabled, but tolerating it, babying my back for fear of another relapse. I'm not laying this at the doorstep of RYB; nothing wrong with the exercises - the problem is the fear with which I was doing the exercises. If the pain is TMS related ... that's just the worst thing you can do, to let the pain tell you how far you can go, and how much you can do. My mantra (do all you can, but not too much) was wrong ... if the pain is TMS related. Physical abnormalities like sprained muscles and ligaments are a whole, other matter.

So assuming the pain is TMS (and that's the risk: is it TMS related? Doctors that can make a reliable TMS diagnosis are very few and far between, and very, very expensive; and Dr Sarno's books are marginally helpful in self-diagnosing), here are the reminders from his list that I've been investigating:
The pain is due to TMS, not to a structural (physical) abnormality.
TMS is a harmless condition
Since my back is basically normal, there is nothing to fear.
Therefore, physical activity is not dangerous.
And I must resume all normal physical activity (and I would add, increasing the amount done, gradually, from day-to-day ... no marathons for me ... just yet)
I will not be concerned or intimidated by the pain.

Of course, not all back pain is TMS related ... so Dr Sarno's treatment recommendations are not relevant. But a good many are ... and it would seem anyone, especially anyone with a condition that has become chronic, would benefit by checking out Dr. Sarno's work.

I'm as excited as Ken is since his epidurals kicked in.

If you are totally unfamiliar with Dr. Sarno's work, check out the wikipedia entry on TMS; it provides a good summary, and titles of his relevant books.

Randolph

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Diet / Water Fasting Approach?

Post by Woodchuck » Sat Dec 30, 2006 6:30 pm

randolph wrote:Did you get a chance to check out Sarno's work, woodchuck?

Randolph
Have not yet. Got distracted but do intend to check it out.

I'm still having some sciatica and lower back pain. In fact, I think I may have overdone it a bit with the back exercises. Yesterday I had quite a bit of discomfort, so today I did not go walking and just did some very mild stretching exercises and am feeling quite good today. A heating pad seems to help me a lot too. Actually I'm using the True Back machine for my mid and upper back. I'm not sure it does much for the lower spine, but it sure feels good on my mid-upper back.

Also, I have been a water fasting advocate for many years, but have not been on a fast in a very long time. I became interested when my mother was put on a 30-day water fast many years ago for some major colon issues. The doctors wanted to remove part of her colon, but after the fast, her problem cleared up and has never come back. That's been almost 30 years now. Also, prior to the fast, she had to take strong laxatives. She has not had to take even a mild laxative since the fast. Anyway, I've had several fasts over the years. One for 14 days, but most of them for 3-5 days. And, without exception, I feel great during and after the fast.

So, I may do a fast and see how that goes as I'm quite sure what I'm dealing with is inflammation in my lower spine.

Anyone interested in a fasting approach, I would recommend they read "Fasting Can Save Your Life" by Herbert M Shelton and "Fasting and Eating for Health" by Joel Fuhram, MD. They both talk about inflammation related to spine issues and have helped many recover from arthritis and other debilitating illnesses. BTW, it was Herbert Shelton's assosiate that walked my mother through her 30-day fast.

Will let you know how it goes with the fasting. I plan to start either the 2nd or 3rd of Jan. Too much happening through the 1st to start now ;)

Ken

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Post by randolph » Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:33 pm

Good luck with your fast ... take it slow! Are you doing it at home alone, or going to a retreat to fast with others and doctor supervision?

Did some fasting with one of Shelton's students, Dr. Ralph Cinque, down in Yorktown TX ... gosh ... almost 30 years ago and learned the Natural Hygienic system during my 3 week fast. Have been doing the diet, successfully, with not much variation since then. But just a warning - kids don't do well on the raw food / low protein diet ... almost killed my daughter when she was two from malnutrition (not enough iron). She's flourishing now by including organic meats in her diet. But it does seem to be a good diet for us, non-growing adults, if my wife and I are typical.

Is Fuhran still associated with the Hallelujah Acres folks? Or am I getting him mixed up with someone else?

From the limited descriptions of your pain symptoms, I'd encourage you to check out Sarno's work. Some of your symptoms sound like typical TMS stuff ... and if they are, the physical treatments you are planning may be more effective if done in conjunction with some of Sarno's recommendations. Would seem worthwhile to discuss with whoever is supervising your fast.

Randolph

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Post by Woodchuck » Sun Dec 31, 2006 5:25 am

randolph wrote:Good luck with your fast ... take it slow! Are you doing it at home alone, or going to a retreat to fast with others and doctor supervision?

Is Fuhran still associated with the Hallelujah Acres folks? Or am I getting him mixed up with someone else?

From the limited descriptions of your pain symptoms, I'd encourage you to check out Sarno's work. Some of your symptoms sound like typical TMS stuff ... and if they are, the physical treatments you are planning may be more effective if done in conjunction with some of Sarno's recommendations. Would seem worthwhile to discuss with whoever is supervising your fast.

Randolph
Will not be supervised and will continue to work (Security Officer job with very minimal exercise/stress involvedv). No chance I could take off work and lie in bed for days ;) However, like I say, this is not a first fast for me, so not concerned about doing it on my own and my activity/stress will be very minimal. My body always responds positively to fasting. A few years ago I did a fast the Paul Bragg way and hiked in the mountains (toward Mt. Wilson north of Pasadena, CA where I live) every day on a 10-day fast and felt stronger each day. I was not fasting at that time for health reasons per se, so was able to experiment and was amazed at the increased energy during the fast. I seem to be a fortunate one when it comes to fasting. I lose my hunger almost from day one and don't experience headaches or discomfort in any way. I always have nothing but positive results.

I'm not sure of Fuhrman's connection with the Hallelujah Acres people although I see they do sell one of his books. Will check more into that. Was it you who had a bad experience with this "Hallelujah" group? I had not heard of them before, but I believe I read a post about them here.

Actually am beginning the fast today so that when I go back to work on wednesday, I will be 4 days into the fast. Will try to check out the TMS stuff along the way as well. During this time I will be re-reading the Shelton, Fuhrman and Bragg books. I also have a book called the "Birtcher-Benner" diet, which I am not able to locate right now....grrr! Had it for years and am not sure it is still available. It mostly has to do with a raw food diet to assist in illnesses although I've never really tried it. Anyway, will keep you updated along the way.

Ken

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Post by randolph » Sun Dec 31, 2006 9:02 am

Sounds like you are fortunate, indeed, Ken, to respond so well to fasting. Some people don't. The toughest part for me was getting back into eating GRADUALLY. Never could tame the inner-tyrannosauras rex. Like my hero, cookie monster, says: anything in refrigerator my favorite, but refrigerator give me heartburn .... belch.

And to have to do it sunny southern California. Oh, how I did love driving down there!!

Yes, I, and not I alone, had some unfortunate experiences with the HAcres folks (like ... our kids were starving on the diet). They are Natural Hygiene with a strong strong STRONG fundamentalist Christian spin. Their leader was a southern Baptist preacher prior to founding HAcres ... and unfortunately lived up to the seamier side of the southern preacher stereotype (not the sex side - or at least never heard or saw anything - just the most natural, convincing liar you could ever want to meet). It's a good thing there's a law against murder ... I live just an hour away from HAcres International Headquarters.

Research is indicating that any benefit from eating certain foods to heal certain conditions is attributed largely to the placebo effect (except in the case of starvation ... that's how this whole idea got started, that certain foods could cure certain diseases when it was discovered a 100 years ago that folks in the South, just eating corn bread and salt pork, would stop dying of pelagra - shortage of one of the B vitamins - if they ate a wider variety of foods). Anyway, nothing wrong with eating broccoli, thinking it's going to help in some way .... but placebos are temporary ... so unless you want to keep eating lots of broccoli, aloe vera, shark cartilage or juicing 50 lbs of carrots each week (like I did for years), for the rest of your life, you might as well save all the time and effort to just eat a wide variety of things you really enjoy. After years of exploring since the 60's, it's my experience the only source of positive information concerning the wonder benefits of certain foods, supplements, etc. to heal/cure/ameliorate sicknesses/aging are the people selling the stuff, or the books preaching that cure. It's a real disappointment. But it leaves time for more important things than obsessing over what you fill you grocery basket with. That's just my experience. I read, and did, Paul Bragg, Arnold Ehret, Herbert Shelton, the Diamonds, the MacDougals, adinfinitum, adnauseum ... and if I had to do it over again ... I'd take my grandad's advice (he lived robustly the first 97 of his 98 years): don't eat so much you got to buy new pants ... and sweat enough so you have to shower everyday ... and a little sex is nice too. He added that last part when I went away t college, bless his heart.

Sorry for the rant ... it's a real sore spot since one of my kids almost died on me, me thinking I was helping her, feeding her all this wonderful food, and there I was killing her. Now, I'd rather err on the side of saying too much, than not enough.

Randolph

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Post by Woodchuck » Sun Dec 31, 2006 11:58 am

randolph wrote: Sorry for the rant ... it's a real sore spot since one of my kids almost died on me, me thinking I was helping her, feeding her all this wonderful food, and there I was killing her. Now, I'd rather err on the side of saying too much, than not enough.

Randolph
No, I hear you Randolph and understand perfectly where you are coming from. I have become a real skeptic of all of this kind of thing too. Had I not fasted over the years with positive results, and with my mother's life-saving experience, I would probably not consider it at all. And, yes, starting back gradually can be a challenge, but it is for a short period of time. Will do my best ;) I also won't be a carrot-juicing kind of guy following this, but I will try to avoid over-eating and as much junk food as possible. I was a diet coke (aspartame) addict up to the onset of this last lower back episode and I won't go back to that. Stopped the cokes about a month ago. Will see how it goes with the fasting. If inflammation is a major issue in my case, maybe this will help. I could also lose 20 lbs or so (I weigh about 215 lbs and feel about right at 190-195 lbs - I'm 6'2"). Also, my father died a miserable painful death at age 57 when I was 15 yo from damage by cortisone in battling rheumatoid arthritis (he literally ruptured internally), this lower back stiffness makes me wonder about my genes in this respect. Ironically, I am 57 yo now ;) I certainly will not go the steroid route after his experience! May be no connection at all since his back was fine. The arthritis attacked his knees and ankles. I have no other indications of joint issues other than my lower back and my first dealings with it was as a senior in high school when I "threw my back out." Same symptoms of right-side sciatica. These next few days should give me an indication if I'm heading in the right direction or not. Will let you know what's happening along the way and appreciate you input and frankness!

Ken

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Post by randolph » Sun Dec 31, 2006 12:25 pm

The genetic connection is a tough one to make, Ken. If something "runs in the family" is it genes or just learning and adopting certain behaviors from others in the family? Wish I would have stayed in school so I could have helped find out.

Your working in security, and first name being Ken ... got me thinking how Ken Kesey wrote his first big book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, while working as a security guard. I've long fantasized it would be a fun thing to do (minus smoking all that pot for inspiration). ... just can't get my wife to warm up to the idea of her working again while I work for min wage, writing the Great American Novel. Think there might be a future for me where you work (too bad we'd have to move to SoCal) if I can get my wife to wear the financial pants in the family for a while? :lol:

Randolph

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Post by Woodchuck » Sun Dec 31, 2006 2:03 pm

randolph wrote:Think there might be a future for me where you work (too bad we'd have to move to SoCal) if I can get my wife to wear the financial pants in the family for a while? :lol:

Randolph
Yep, working in Security was intended to be a temporary situation which has turned out somewhat longterm and therefore money is VERY tight. Long story, but short version is I was taking care of an elderly friend who was abandoned by his daughters as his health diminished and I took the Security swing shift job so I could be available mornings to help him. He finally ended up in a nursing home for two years with dementia, suffered two strokes, the last putting him in a hospice situation and he passed away peacefully at age 93 on Nov 1st of this year. I visited him daily during those two years since he was barely able to see or hear and I was the only one he could meaningfully communicate with. My visiting him was all he had to look foreward to. Needless to say, I became very fond of him and his death has been tough on me emotionally. I don't regret having helped him and would do it again, but I think I took a physical amd emotional toll as a result. I was experiencing some lower back trouble/sciatica prior to his death, but it has increased since then. Might be related. Just don't know. 2006 has been a bad year for me having one issue after another (double-hernia repair, bruised tail bone that took months to heal and now the back/sciatica flareup). Just when I thought I could exercise and get back into good shape, something always gets in the way. I've been quite depressed over these past two years and being stressed financially is upsetting as well. Thankfully I have medical insurance which took care of the hernia operation. Not sure what I would have done had I not had the insurance!

Ken

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Update for Randolph

Post by Woodchuck » Sat Jan 06, 2007 10:26 pm

Has been days since I posted. Wanted to have something concrete to share. Not sure I do now, but maybe. ;)

Randolph, I just went two days on the fast and the reason I stopped so short is that on the beginning of the third day, I started back on the cobra from RYB to see what would happen and found instant relief again as I had the first time! And that entire third day I was sciatica and low-back pain free. Now the following day was terrible even with the cobra and the other basic exercises. All tensed up and stiff as a board. Then, a couple of days ago I had a visit to my Chiro (yeah I know....naughty, should be stoned :). He is very mild in his manipulations and does a lot of massaging and he focused on my extremely tight hamstring muscles. I did not realize they were that stiff. Well, he stretched those a lot (ouch at the time!) and suggested I focus on them myself and continue to walk and he thought that would help a lot. Well, it got me thinking about the TMS stuff, so just today I checked out the Wikipedia on it and I have an idea that pure muscle tension exacerbated by an unusually emotional, stressful, hellish and depressing year is at the root of my sciatica / low-back discomfort. I sure hope so! Anyway, I am here at work on Security as I write, having just finished a complete patrol of the building. During the patrol I focused on keeping my muscles as relaxed as possible and kept a calm, serene mindset. My back feels wonderfully relaxed right now as I sit writing. Have not felt this good for quite a while. I have a strong feeling that it is pure muscle tension at the core of my discomfort.

I am going to check out the TMS forum you mentioned and see where this all leads me. I will probably buy one of Dr Sarno's books tomorrow as I am now excited about the possibilities, especially after your good results thusfar (still doing OK?). Is "Healing Back Pain: the mind-body connection" the one you would still recommend?

Ken

(BTW, I have forum settings set to notify me when there are responses to my posts, but I never get notified. Is that feature not working? I've checked my settings a few times and I think they are correct.)

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Tinkering with the motor...

Post by Admin » Sun Jan 07, 2007 1:59 am

Also, that's why I've been rather silent lately ... I've had my head "under the hood" for the past several weeks.

Hey... anybody notice the Date and Time stamps are working?

Woohoo!!! Uncle Dean's been busy.

(Sorry, I get a little loopy when I get tired.)

Good discussion on Sarno, by the way.

Nite all,
Dean

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Post by randolph » Sun Jan 07, 2007 2:39 am

Yes indeedee, Dean, have noticed the date stamps, and I do like the date stamps on the forum index, so you can see the latests posts. Thanks for burning the midnight oil!

Great, Ken!! Glad investigating the possibility of your pain having some TMS dynamic involved has given you another tool to dealing with it. It sounds like the DC you visited understood the limits of chiropractic, so you weren't in danger of receiving more than treatment for pain relief. Some of us weren't so lucky.

I read Sarno's HEALING BACK PAIN. His newest book, THE DIVIDED MIND, is recommended as a must read by some forum members, but others claim the core info is in any of his books from the last 20 years or so, which includes HBP. I found the book hard reading, even though he wrote it for nonmedical professionals like us. But his core recommendations are summarized on one page, and easy to understand, once you get comfortable with his lingo. I borrowed mine from the library, but my next trip into the big city, I'll be getting my own copy of TDM.

It has been personally helpful to visit the TMS forum, to get more familiar with Sarno's treatment recommendations, and see how others are using them, and what results they are getting .... but I can't say I've really come away with learning anything that I didn't read in HBP. There's a strong self-help, pop-psychology thing going on in the forum; a lot of the folks usings Sarno's treatments are REALLY into helping pscho-analyze
eachother. I personally find no value in such stuff; it was enough for me to work with Sarno's suggestion that my pain might have a psychosomatic foundation, so I could disregard my fear of doing things to avoid risk of relapse. You'll just have to see for yourself; it's a chatty, fun place though.

Randolph

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Post by randolph » Sun Jan 07, 2007 10:43 am

Hi y'all

Thought I'd share some speculations about the possible connections between sciatica and TMS. But after reading what I wrote here yesterday, and comparing with more information from Dr. Daniel Goleman's books ... thought it better to delete the nonsense. This is what is left.

Randolph

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Post by Woodchuck » Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:04 pm

randolph wrote:Did you get a chance to check out Sarno's work, woodchuck?
Randolph
Hi Randolph,

I finally bought Dr Sarno's "HEALING BACK PAIN - The Mind-Body Connection" today. Reading the Intro and a quick scan through the pages, it looks promising. I do deal at times with a lot of suppressed anger and at times go into deep depressions for short periods of time, so I would not be surprised if this kind of stress has a lot to do with my lower-back/sciatica pain. Still giving me problems. One day not bad and the next quite uncomfortable. I did go to my GP and he has me setup for Physical Therapy for a month staring this coming monday the 22nd. Dr Sarno said to stop all physical treatments, but I do want to go at least once and see what they have to offer. Anyway, I am now feeling more optimistic that recovery is closer. The doctor also signed a note to not lift over 10 lbs at work for 30 days. I'll delve into Dr Sarno's book over the next couple of days and let you know what I think. How are you getting along with Sarno's approach?

Ken

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