Some of the most common symptoms of Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) are back pain, migraines, TMJ, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia, but there are almost too many to list. In fact, almost any chronic symptom can be TMS, also known as Neuroplastic Pain or Mind Body Pain.

A women lying in bed in pain with symptoms of TMS.
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Do you have pain that has gone undiagnosed even after many doctor visits? Do you feel fatigued and unable to find an answer? Or have you received a diagnosis such as Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or been told that you have a bulging disc, but nothing is helping you get better?

I understand how frustrated and helpless you feel. This was me until I learned about Tension Myositis Syndrome. In TMS, the brain is causing the pain, not the body. The brain is just making a mistake and signaling pain where there is no injury. This is very common! Read on to learn more about common symptoms and uncommon symptoms and how to know if your symptoms are TMS.

Have you had puzzling symptoms over many months or years? Have you been to oodles of doctors and practitioners and still don’t know what is wrong? If this is the case, you are not alone. I went to numerous physicians, physical therapists, nutritionists, and practitioners, and nothing worked until I realized that my symptoms were TMS.

TMS is easier to diagnose than you would think, and if you have it, you can count your blessings because TMS is treatable.

A Pain In The Brain

I have had around 15 different symptoms over 30 years or more that have all been mind-body symptoms, or TMS. I know it seems impossible, but our brains are much more powerful than we credit them.

Our primitive brain, or unconscious, is always trying to keep us safe and sometimes uses pain to do so. This is an unconscious process (it happens without us being consciously aware), so our job is to make it conscious, interrupting the fear/pain/fear cycle and eventually getting out of pain.

Tension Myositis Syndrome is when the brain creates the pain, not the body. The brain is just making a mistake and signaling pain despite no injury. Read on to learn some of the more about the symptoms of TMS and how it is diagnosed.

Common Symptoms of TMS

  • Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Shoulder Pain/Frozen Shoulder
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraines
  • Jaw Pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Nerve Pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Whiplash
  • IBS
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Chronic Insomnia
  • Chronic Anxiety
  • Eczema
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

From my experience, these are the most common symptoms of Mind-Body Pain, but more symptoms and conditions can be diagnosed as TMS after an organic pathology has been ruled out. Below, some of the more uncommon symptoms of TMS are listed. However, there can be more.

Uncommon Symptoms of TMS

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Lyme Disease
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Frequent Urination

How Do You Know If Your Symptom is TMS?

To determine if your symptoms are Neuroplastic or not, first make sure you get checked out by a doctor to rule out a structural issue or organic illness. Once a structural issue has been ruled out, here are 10 questions to ask yourself to help you get a pretty good idea of whether you could have TMS.

  1. Have your symptoms lasted 6 months or longer?
  2. Do you have more than one or multiple symptoms?
  3. Do your symptoms move around your body?
  4. Have treatments been ineffective or short-term?
  5. Were you going through a stressful time when you first noticed your symptoms?
  6. Did you undergo trauma or adverse experiences as a child?
  7. Have you undergone trauma or adverse experiences as an adult?
  8. Do you consider yourself an anxious person?
  9. Do you struggle with low self-esteem?
  10. Do you consider yourself a go-getter, somewhat intense, or perfectionistic?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, there is a good chance that you have TMS. Most of us with TMS have suffered childhood trauma or have gone through some pretty intense experiences that have caused us to be on high alert or living in a fight/flight/freeze/fawn state.

This, along with being sensitive, can be perfect for our brains to go into protective mode. And our brains, always trying to keep us safe, will go to extremes to do so, even if it means signaling pain.

The Six-Month Rule

If you are trying to figure out if you could have TMS, ask yourself how long you have had symptoms. Many people, such as myself, had back pain and fatigue for years, but most of the time, our bodies heal within six months.

We are not fragile Beings. We are strong, and our bodies heal, but some of us buy into the idea that we are weak and fragile, which isn’t true. When I had chronic fatigue syndrome for many years, I told people that “I must have a weak constitution.” This is what I believed, and it absolutely wasn’t true. Our beliefs matter, and my brother set me straight and told me the truth: that my body was strong and had a perfect ability to heal itself.

If your symptoms have been around for six months or more, there is a really good chance that you have TMS.

When You Have Multiple Symptoms of TMS

An even stronger case for Neuroplastic pain can be made when you have more than one symptom for six months or more. Multiple symptoms where no physical cause can be found is a really good sign that you may have TMS.

Do Your Symptoms Move Around?

Do you have pain on one side of your back for one hour and then on the other side an hour later? Pain that is inconsistent or moves around is another really good sign that you have TMS. Do you have Plantar Fasciitis in both feet?

I had plantar fasciitis in both feet for months and was able to heal it completely using mind-body methods. I don’t even think about it anymore. Most people with plantar fasciitis must keep up with it constantly, rolling their feet out every night using a frozen water bottle and wearing special shoes or inserts. I don’t do any of that because I completely healed.

If you have symptoms on both sides of your body: both arms, both sides of your neck, both legs, both knees, etc…there is a good chance you have TMS.

Unsuccessful Treatments

As I mentioned earlier, many of my clients and I have tried everything to heal our symptoms. In some cases, treatments may help for a while, but then the symptoms come back or you start to have other symptoms. If you have had many unsuccessful treatments for your symptoms, there is a good chance you have TMS.

Stress and/or Trauma and Symptoms

If you were going through a stressful time or experienced a traumatic event right at or right before the onset of your symptoms, you may have TMS. Mind-body symptoms are almost always brought on by chronic stress. When we have been under stress for an extended length of time, our primitive brains can go into overprotective mode, signaling pain even when there is no injury.

Anxiety and Symptoms

If you consider yourself an anxious person or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, this increases the chance that your symptoms are mind-body symptoms. Anxiety causes us to see life through a lens of danger, and over time, this can cause our brains to go into an over-protective mode in which the brain may signal pain.

Anxiety is extremely common in people with TMS. For many of my clients, anxiety has become so much the norm for them that they aren’t really even aware that they have it. Healing from TMS involves becoming aware of the anxiety or the fear and learning how to live in a more peaceful state.

Low Self-Esteem and TMS

Low self-esteem occurs when people have a low opinion of themselves. They lack confidence and self-trust. They constantly compare themselves to others and often feel less than others. This causes them to put themselves down, engage in people-pleasing, and generally feel they don’t have control over their lives.

Their relationships suffer because they do not set good boundaries. People with low self-esteem often put other people’s wants and needs before their own, resulting in them feeling drained and unsettled. This is a stressful way to live and may lead to symptoms of chronic pain, fatigue, headaches, or other TMS symptoms.

Perfectionism and TMS

Low self-esteem can lead us to live a life of perfectionism. If we aim for perfection, we feel like we have done enough to please others. We want others to have a good opinion of us, to the detriment of our own well-being.

Perfectionism led me to work eighty-plus hours per week as a retail manager many years ago. Perfectionism is an addiction and can be difficult to find our way out of. If you have chronic symptoms and struggle with perfectionism, there is a good chance your symptoms are TMS.

No one of the above criteria is evidence for TMS, but after reading this post, I hope you have a better idea of whether or not your symptoms are neuroplastic pain. Make sure you see a doctor to rule out other things, but even if you do have a structural issue, getting treatment for mind-body symptoms can help you better cope with your symptoms and reduce your pain.

For Pain Recovery Coaching, please fill out our contact form, call or text 303-250-4275, or email [email protected].

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