MINDBODYMEDICINE.COM is a web site designed to educate the public and health professionals about the importance of the mind-body connection in health and illness.
Research continues to point to the vital role of emotions and the mind in the cause and cure of a variety of illnesses. From ancient perspectives in different cultures to recent research on the physiology of the nervous system, more insight is being gained on this mysterious, yet self-evident mind-body connection.
Research and empirical data suggests that chronic and acute back pain, irritable bowel, jaw pain, tension and migraine headaches, skin rashes including eczema, some pelvic and prostatic pain can be caused or worsened by emotions such as tension, anger, fear, and grief.
Some people are more prone to these disorders than others--back pain may be more likely, for instance, in people who are perfectionistic, self-critical, and highly responsible for others. People with chronic back pain are often suffering from a mind-body disorder known as TMS, or Tension Myositis Syndrome, a diagnosis that is relatively unknown in both the medical and alternative communities.
TMS is a disorder that causes back and neck pain that is successfully treated in most cases.
It is a soft tissue condition that can involve the muscles, ligaments, and nerves of the back and neck. The pain in TMS is caused or worsened by tension and in most cases, can be eliminated by a mental process that involves focusing on the emotional, rather than the physical. Now this is a strong statement and I want to repeat it.
Tension Myositis Syndrome--describes a very common problem --back and neck pain--and redefines it as physical pain with roots in emotional tension. This syndrome was first theorized by Dr. John Sarno at NYU's Rusk Institute. In the late 1970's and early 1980's he described in detail a theory, involving the connections between emotions, the brain, the limbic system, and the autonomic nervous system that generates this process. The end products is painful tissue that causes local pain (trigger points, areas of spasm) and sometimes distant pain (sciatica,etc.). The cure is educational and psychological and highly effective in most patients.
This diagnosis is probably not that well known or accepted in the medical field because of the emphasis on pathology and a "cartesian" split between mind and body that pervades medical thought. Typically the medical profession is split: If it's mental, it must be psychiatric; if it's physical, surgery or medication must be the answer. There is not a meeting of the minds, so to speak, where physicians can heal via treatment of mind and body. But successful TMS treatment must involve both an appreciation and understanding of the physical pain AND the vital connection to the mind and emotions.
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