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How to cure TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome)

Just to refresh, in many cases RSI symptoms are part of a phenomenon called TMS. This discovery has led many people into amazing realisations and recovery from deep chronic conditions. Read on:

1) Acceptance:

First you need to accept that there is a mind-body root to your condition, and that as a result the pain is not symptomatic of structural damage.  This on its own is the biggest hurdle to overcome as it allows you to do activities without the fear of further injury.  It is of course important to note that Dr Sarno stresses that you must have been through regular medical check-ups to rule out any serious structural causes of the pain.  (Though as you will see in the “medical evidence” section, sometimes structural diagnoses can be misleading).

2) Journaling:

You should start journaling every day with a diary of what stresses you have/have had in your life.  Set aside 10 minutes somewhere quiet.  Write about your personal life pressures both past and present.  Who are you angry with?  Guilty about?  What fears do you have?  See if you can link your emotional state to your symptoms.  What was going on emotionally when they first started?  Does the pain get worse when you’re stressed?   The journaling will force you to become more introspective about your own emotions.

3) Meditation:

Put aside another 10 minutes a day for meditation.  This simply means sitting somewhere quiet and trying to clear your mind of other thoughts.  If (and when!) thoughts do appear, simply acknowledge them and then release them.  During the day you can also do mindful mediation, which simply involves becoming hyper-aware of your surroundings – smell the air, notice what the touch of the steering wheel feels like, focus on the wallpaper pattern.  This allied with deep breathing can be very relaxing.

4) Targets:

Set yourself goals – both small and large.  For example my long term goals were to type 1000 words without voice recognition software, to play badminton, to write freehand without any pain  and to play guitar without any pain.  My short term goals were associated with these targets – eg.  To start typing without voice recognition, to play the guitar for a few minutes a day etc etc.  Your pain will be partially generated by  positive feedback -an activity appears to causes pain, so the next time you attempt that activity your stress levels rise, heightening pain awareness and worsening the pain experienced.  This conditioned fear response can only be overcome by setting small term goals to recondition yourself to activities without pain.

5) Visualisation:

Adopt visualisation techniques – in the same way that Olympic athletes use visualisation techniques to improve their performance, imagining doing activities that cause pain actually helps reduce the conditioned pain response.

6) Positive attitude:

Write yourself a number of positive mantras or positive sayings:
“TMS is real, the pain is just emotional.”
“It is ok to not succeed in everything I do.”
“The pain is just caused by a lack of oxygenated blood, there is no long term damage.”
Say these to yourself whenever you feel an onset of pain

7) Exercise

Start doing exercise – this will make you feel better, and will also get your blood flowing.  You should notice that your pain diminishes when you do this.

8) Commitment:

Embrace the above suggestions.  Take things slowly and give yourself at least a month of genuine application.  It won’t work if you’re half hearted.  Ask yourself how much you would be prepared to pay to be cured of your chronic pain.  If you’re anything like me, it will be every penny you can afford.  Say you would be prepared £15,000 – well, 30 minutes a day for a month values your time at £1000 per hour – not bad!  Ultimately there is nothing to lose – if after a month you’re no better off, well you’ve given it a go,  if it works then you have your life back.  I think that those are odds worth taking.

9) Not getting disheartened!

Some people report an almost immediate reduction in pain symptoms after adopting TMS techniques, for others it seems to be a longer process.  The important thing is to not get disheartened if you don’t notice overnight changes.  Indeed, for some of the success stories listed it was a journey that took many months.  If you are struggling it may be time to speak to a medical professional who accepts the TMS concept.  They might be able to point you in the right direction.  And don’t underestimate the importance of community support – write about your experiences on the PPD/TMS Peer Network Forum or on the TMS Help forum, and listen to advice from former sufferers.

Information kindly reprinted with permission from RSI BACKPAIN UK

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About The Author

Senior Writer

Justin Bennett is the senior writer across the How I Beat sites. With six years experience in mental health encompassing work in homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals and disability employment services and graduate diplomas in counselling and journalism he is passionate about helping others overcome and beat their conditions.

Number of Entries : 11

Comments (9)

  • Mike

    Thank you for this site! I wish I would have found this earlier!!!!

  • Michael

    Dear Mr. Bennett

    Can Tension Myositis Syndrome also cause unexplained neuropathy?
    I have had bilateral ulnar nerve and radial nerve problems for years. I have had MRI and ultra sound test but Dr’s can’t seem to find a satisfactory cause.

    Kind regards

  • Justin Bennett

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your question. According the Sarno’s books I’ve read TMS can definitely caused unexplained neuropathy via a process called ischemia which cuts of blood supplies to nerves and tendons. I would recommend you explore his books especially the MindBody phenomenon especially when you have arrived at your point and no diagnostic impairment has turned up.

    Best of luck with your recovery!



  • Jake


    I have been trying to find someone who has the exact same symptoms as i do…stiff, tight, weak, aching forearms. 99% of the tests came back negative, however, there was one part of an EMG, where the neurologist stated that one muscle was not working properly??? That was all he said, your extensor digitorum does not work properly…coincidentally that is the muscle that is causing the issues with finger extension, and the aforementioned symptoms. I fit the TMS personality perfectly. But this EMG issue and the fact that my symptoms are not just pain have been keeping me from accepting TMS 100%. Any thoughts, as you have dealt with RSI yourself.

  • Tom

    Hi Justin,

    A friend of mine suffers from amongst many other problems, fibromyalgia. I have read Dr Jon Sarno’s ‘The Mind Body Prescription’ and have also started to read ‘How to Unlearn Your Pain’ by I think, Dr Schubiner. I have read these with my friend and discussed a lot of the concepts in the books, helping her reinforce ideas etc. I was wondering would any of the Mind Body techniques help me to deal with my depression and anxiety? Mine and my friend’s thinking was that symptoms of TMS can vary and manifest themselves in ways other than physical – is this actually plausible? Thank you very much for your time!

  • Justin Bennett

    Tom, Good questions Sarno posits that TMS can cause depression and anxiety although it’s not investigated extensively at all. He draws from a Freudian framework so symptoms that could include anxiety and depression can be seen as defences against painful emotions surfacing. I would encourage your friend to read the books him or herself the proper healing only happens when you own it for yourself. About depression and anxiety personally it doesn’t hurt to get treatment in the health system like GP support and counselling/psychotherapy. There are many different forms of depression too and shouldn’t be conceived as just ‘depression’. Hope that helps.


  • Ali

    Hi Justin,
    Thanks a lot for all the support that you and other TMS experts share online. I have read and benefited from your writings. I had severe wrist pain and burning foot and was not able to lift even the grocerry bags. No I am able to do pushups, do gardenning (lifting gardenning soil, mulch bags), which I didn’t imagine that I would ever be able to do so. Dr Sarno’s book and Fred Amir’s Rapid recovery helped me to recover. In my case recovery was not immidiate and it took some time.
    But as I started recovering from the pain I am realizing that I am feeling much depressed and also my GAD(generalized anxiety) which was under control is worsening, And also feeling lack of concentration due to brain fog. I clearly understand this another form of TMS. I am not seeing success by using the same self assuring technique for this issue. Cold you suggest anything in particular for this issue..
    Thanks in advance

  • Justin Bennett

    Yep sometimes this is common when pain reduces anxiety and depression can rise up as well. Read Sarno’s books often this is the symptom imperative at play. Often psychotherapy can help with this process especially if the symptoms are not resolving. Wishing you the best with your recovery.


  • alexander


    I lift weights to keep fit. I came across this page from a gym forum. Ive had RSI two times in my life, im currently in the middle of the second one. Both times i thought/think they were related to a injury from wrong lifting technique. My injury is located at the pelvic/adominal area. Tight muscles from the pelvic to the glute/hip area left side. My chiropractor which has looked at the area With ultrasound has found an inflamation there.

    Last time the inflamation lasted about a year, im about 10 months into it this time. But after i read about TMS i thought maybe it can be stress realated. Because the funny thing is, both times this injury has happened to me, it was during my wifes pregnancies (and both times it occured around the 6th month of the pregnancy). Both times i got really depressed from the injury, thinking it will never get better. This time im a bit more optimistic, since i know i got better last time. Do you have any tips for helping speed up the recocvery?

    Sorry for bad English, its not my native language

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