Have you ever heard of the mind body connection?

Dr Sarno is an American Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine who has published several best selling books on the subject, such as: Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection and Mind Over Back Pain. He developed the theory of there being a psychological and emotional basis for back pain and symptoms, after studying the behaviour of his own patients. The theory, also called TMS (tension myoneural syndrome), is based on the belief that it is a psychosomatic illness which is causing chronic back, neck, and limb pain, which is not relieved by standard medical treatments. Although his theory has yet to be accepted by mainstream medicine, he has successfully treated and cured thousands of patients based on his theory.

TMS in more detail:

Dr Sarno first began to speculate that the cause of back pain may not be purely physical, after treating numerous  patients using conventional medicine and seeing little or no improvement in their condition. Upon observing the personality traits of his patients, he explored the possibly of unconscious emotions, such as anger, being at the root of the pain. He found that strong negative emotions, in particular rage, will cause the mind to reduce blood flow to certain body parts in order to create a socially acceptable distraction. This distraction being back pain or pain in another part of the body (1). 

Dr Sarno found that reduced blood flow, causing the muscles to be in an abnormal state, was the cause of around 90% of cases of back, neck and limb pain. Hence the reason why therapies that increase the blood flow and oxygen to the affected area, such as high-frequency sound waves, massage, and active exercise, tend to relieve pain (1).

Using treatments based on his theory proved a major success for Dr Sarno. He helps his patients connect with the underlying psychological factors such as their tendency to be perfect, good and to push themselves. Repressed rage is usually the culprit and when patients acknowledge this, the pain disappears (1). 

Unfortunately, few mainstream doctors use Dr Sarno's program to treat patients due their inherent bias against the idea that the mind can cause actual physical disorders. In 2007 a former student of Dr Sarno published a study of the outcome of patients with chronic back pain who had been treated using the TMS method. The study found a 54% reduction in the average pain score of these patients (2).


1. At the Root of Back Pain 

2. Outcomes of a Mind-Body Treatment Program for Chronic Back Pain with no Distinct Structural Pathologya Case Series of Patients Diagnosed and Treated as Tension Myositis Syndrome.


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