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Excerpted from Healing Back Pain by John Sarno, M.D. Copyright © 1991 by John Sarno, M.D. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner, Inc. and Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Since most physicians see their role only as treating the body, the psychological part of the problem is neglected, even though itís the basic cause."

Dr. John Sarno, Healing Back Pain, Part 2

The emotions do not lend themselves to test tube experiments and measurement and so modern medical science has chosen to ignore them, buttressed by the conviction that emotions have little to do with health and illness anyway. Hence, the majority of practicing physicians do not consider that emotions play a significant role in causing physical disorders, though many would acknowledge that they might aggravate a "physically" caused illness. In general, physicians feel uncomfortable in dealing with a problem that is related to the emotions. They tend to make a sharp distinction between "the things of the mind" and "the things of the body," and only feel comfortable with the latter.

Peptic ulcer of the duodenum is a good example. Although some physicians would dispute the idea, there is a fairly wide acceptance among practicing doctors that ulcers are caused primarily by "tension." Contrary to logic, however, the major focus in treatment is "medical," not "psychological," and drugs are prescribed to neutralize or prevent the secretion of acid. But failure to treat the primary cause of the disorder is poor medicine; it is symptomatic treatment, something we were warned about in medical school. But since most physicians see their role only as treating the body, the psychological part of the problem is neglected, even though itís the basic cause. In fairness, some physicians make an attempt to say something about tension, but itís often of a superficial nature like, "You ought to take it easy; youíre working too hard."

Pain syndromes look so "physical" it is particularly difficult for doctors to consider the possibility that they might be caused by psychological factors, and so they cling to the structural explanation. In doing so, however, they are chiefly responsible for the pain epidemic that now exists in this country.

If structural abnormalities donít cause pain in the neck, shoulder, back and buttocks, what does? Studies and clinical experience of many years suggest that these common pain syndromes are the result of a physiologic alteration in certain muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments which is called the Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). It is a harmless but potentially very painful disorder that is the result of specific, common emotional situations. It is the purpose of this book to describe TMS in detail.

The ensuing sections of this chapter will discuss who gets it, in what parts of the body it occurs, the various patterns of pain and the overall impact of TMS on peopleís health and daily lives. Following chapters will talk about the psychology of TMS (which is where it all begins), its physiology and how it is treated. Conventional diagnosis and treatment will be reviewed and I will conclude with a chapter on the important interaction between mind and body in matters of health and illness.

Who Gets TMS?

One might almost say that TMS is a cradle-to-grave disorder since it does occur in children, though probably not until the age of five or six. Its manifestation in children is, of course, different from what occurs in adults. I am convinced that what are referred to as "growing pains" in children are manifestations of TMS.

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