Tension Myositis Syndrome

Tell Us Your Story

We want to hear from you. The purpose of this site is to help people overcome their back and neck pain that we think might be related to TMS. So,

Hear From You

I would love to hear the kinds of issues our readers are having with their pain. I’d also like to hear what steps you’ve taken to get some relief from that pain, whether from traditional doctors or alternative medicine.

So, either in the comments below or via our contact form, please let me know:

A) the kind of issue you’ve been having,

B) how long it’s been going on, and

C) what you’ve done thus far,

D) where you are currently with the pain.

In addition I’d love to hear what you would like to see on the site in terms of information or help.

My goal is to make this a site that is extremely useful for people that suffer from TMS. If you have ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear it again, in the comments below, or via our contact form.

Also, feel free to message me on Twitter @TMSBackPain.

Thanks and here’s to hoping your pain subsides.  🙂

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Pain Between Shoulder Blades

I think everyone can say that they felt it at least once – pain between shoulder blades.

You’re sitting at your job, you’ve had a particularly stressful day and you can just feel the pain between shoulder blades and your upper back. You roll your shoulders hoping to loosen it, up just relieve a little bit of the pain but it’s still there.

Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Why does this happen? Why, after a stressful day, does the pain manifests itself as a pain between shoulder blades?


pain between shoulder blades

Similar to lower back pain, I believe the pain between shoulder blades can be relieved through mental exercises and physical stretching. I also believe that the teachings of Dr. John Sarno can shed light on why this happens.

Is it TMS?

Dr. Sarno believes in the concept of TMS or Tension Myositis Syndrome.

This syndrome is the brain distracting the body from an emotional stress by restricting the flow of oxygen muscles in the body.

In most cases, it’s the lower back.  In some cases, migraine headaches; and even in some cases, it is the pain between shoulder blades.

The thing I found most interesting is that all of these pain manifestations always seem to occur along the spine or in the head.  This seems to make sense as the brain is so closely connected to those.

No one gets a lack of oxygen into the calf muscles or the right arm bicep.

It always seems to manifest itself in the back, or the shoulder blades, or the neck.

The question is:

How do we stop this pain between shoulder blades?

The answer is simple: you must convince your brain that you are not in any kind of physical harm. You want to convince your brain that you are aware of it causing fake pain between should blades.  Once you do that, the pain stops because it no longer makes sense to the brain.

The Solution To Pain Between Shoulder Blades

The best way to do this—positive reinforcement.

Repeating certain sayings to yourself along the way like…

“The pain between shoulder blades is not a physical pain, but one caused by my brain or by the lack of oxygen going to those muscles.”

Another is…

“I have nothing physically wrong between my shoulder blades or upper back or no structural abnormality.”

This repeating has to take place over a significant number of days, usually 3 to 4 weeks. Remember, you’re trying to convince your brain of something that it’s trying to counter convince you of – pain.

It is also possible that your brain could try different tactics to point the pain to different spots which has happened with some folks.  Again, keep convincing yourself and your brain that you don’t have any physical structural problems in the shoulder blades.

More importantly, try to really search your mind and figure out what emotional issues you may not be dealing with.  I’ve often found it very productive to write in a journal, in terms of exactly what’s going on in my life and how I’m feeling about certain things.

Getting that out in the open tends to convince your brain that you have dealt with it.

Remember, when it comes to pain between shoulder blades, first rule out any structural problems with a doctor.  Next, work on the real culprit of the origin of the pain between shoulder blades, your brain.

Be sure to check out the rest of our TMS site for more tips and helpful information on reducing stress and relieving your pain.

Also, check out some great reading on using your mind to overcome your back pain for good.  

One comment so far, What do you have to say?

Stiff Back Relief

Stretching and Exercises for a Stiff Back

A stiff back is no laughing matter.  It is a painful condition that many people find themselves faced with, some even have this as a chronic, nagging condition that is not easy to rectify.

For some, this is attributed to tension myositis syndrome or TMS.  For others, it’s simply a recurring issue that is easily fixable.  Either way, exercises are the way to remedy your stiff back.

For those who do not want to take large amounts of medications, those with no underlying health problem that prohibits light physical activity and those who find themselves needing just a little tweak each day, exercises and stretching can greatly reduce a stiff back and the associated discomfort.

VERY IMPORTANT: Before beginning to do exercises, anyone with an injury or who is under doctor’s care should seek medical advice and approval. 

Before one begins to work out a stiff back, he or she should be wearing loose fitting exercise clothing, have a roomy enough area with a flat surface on which to perform the maneuvers, and be wearing a supportive but comfortable pair of exercise shoes.

Stiff Back

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Start at the Top

With a stiff back, one should slowly and carefully work the entire back – but begin with the neck.

Neck Rolls

Drop your chin to your chest and hold it there for a slow count of five and then return it to normal position.
Repeat this 5 times at first but then progress up to 10 after a week.

It’s important that you move the head so that the ear touches the shoulder and hold for a 5 count.

Do this on each side.

Work the Back

For these two exercises, one should be lying on the floor on his or her back.

Ball Ups

First draw the knees to the chest and then lift the head so that one’s chin moves toward the chest.
As soon as a comfortable stretch is felt, slowly go back to the flat position.
Repeat this 5-10 times as mentioned above.

Roll Ups

Next, while still on your back, bend the knees and place both feet flat on the floor.
With both hands grasp one leg behind the knee and pull it toward your chest.
Again as soon as a stretch is felt, slowly return to the starting position.
Repeat this with both legs 5-10 times each.

These two exercises should almost immediately begin to loosen a stiff back.

Don’t Forget the Lower Half

The hips and gluteus also need to be worked on in order to truly remedy a stiff back.

Hip Bends

First, stand with feet spread apart about the same width as one’s shoulders.
Position the right foot about a half step back.
Bend the left knee and shit your weight to the right hip.
Keep the right leg straight and slowly slide your arm down the right leg until a stretch is felt in the hip.
Repeat this using the left leg as well.

Back Rolls

Next, lie on your back and cross the right leg over the left.
Slowly pull the left knee toward the chest.
One should feel a good stretch in the buttocks region.
Repeat this with the legs reversed as well.

Doing these exercises may not provide instantaneous relief for a sore or stiff back, but continuing with them on a regular basis will lead to overall improvement.

Stick with it and your stiff back will loosen up and even strengthen preventing further episodes.

Be sure to check out the rest of our TMS site for more tips and helpful information on reducing stress and relieving your stiff back.

Also, check out some great reading on using your mind to overcome your back pain for good.  


One comment so far, What do you have to say?

Why The Site?

The main reason for creating this site is to help people with their back pain. 

I had an amazing personal experience with Dr. Sarno’s books and I feel I have a duty to share this with more people.

I know I suffered needlessly from TMS for years with back pain that came and went.  And I knew, in the back of my mind, that it was a stress induced pain.

The hardest part about tackling the back pain, for me, was getting to the point where I was willing to try anything, but didn’t want to go under the knife.

I am skeptical person at heart and the “touchy-feely” stuff doesn’t really resonate with me.  So, obviously I was very skeptical about the claims in Dr. Sarno’s books and from those I spoken to about it.

Getting Past It Mentally

The best decision I’ve made was opening my mind to the theories and saying to myself “I’m going to give this a sincere try”.   We all know the horror stories about folks having back surgery, spinal fusion surgery and other procedures and still having pain afterwards.

I can only imagine how frustrating that must be.  The worst part is this is almost equivalent to taking serious medication for a condition you DON’T HAVE.  All that happens is you destroy your kidneys.

With back surgery you shorten your “physical capability” lifespan.  Why take that risk without trying the mind first?

Doctor Or Weather Man?

Over the last several years that doctoring is about educated guesses vs. certainty.  Sure there are definitive tests (blood, etc) that can identify a condition you may have.

However, with back pain, we see a lot more of “Well, it seems like you have this…” – a slipped disc, pinched nerve, muscle spasms, etc.  Reminds you of a weatherman who may be right 2 out of 5 days per week.

Should it really surprise us that problems in the spine, which is directly connected to the brain, could originate in our mind?

Take That First Step

So I ask you, whatever physical event you believe caused you your back pain, forget it for now.  Forget the physical event.

Open your mind to the possibility that it may be caused by stress.  Just consider it possible to get past this pain with your mind.  Read Dr. Sarno’s books.

Remember, the more you convince yourself you have a physical problem, the harder it becomes to overcome it.

I welcome you to email me with your specific problem.  I’d love to talk to you about it, as even if I help one person with this site, it will be worth it.

As always if you have suggestions for our site, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

One comment so far, What do you have to say?

Sore Lower Back

A sore lower back can be crippling to a person and even impact an entire family. I cannot tell you how many times someone has contacted me in reference to a sore lower back – and I’m not even a doctor.  However, i believe i can offer help to some of these folks without medications, a needle or a scalpel.

There is a way you should first explore that can help a sore lower back – explore the mind.  Stress in our lives has the ability to cause physical pain including a sore lower back.  This is proven by findings and the studies done by Dr. John Sarno and his ground-breaking work with tension myositis syndrome.

sore lower back

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My Sore Lower Back

I, unfortunately, experienced tms firsthand back in 2001 when I began with a sore lower back.  I had a new baby and had just moved to a new house.  I had done nothing to my back but pain started to radiate throughout my sore lower back.

I babied it for a few days and it simply got worse. From a sore lower back, it regressed to acute back pain and even down my leg.

After seeing an orthopedic doctor and then a chiropractor, I began physical therapy.  The therapy certainly helped but wasn’t covering it all.  They added muscle stimulation, which amount to placing electrodes on my sore lower back and sending some volts through me 10 seconds on, and 10 seconds off for 30 minutes.


My physical therapist actually turned me on to Dr. Sarno’s findings and books.  I immediately purchased “Healing Back Pain” and devoured it in 2 nights.  I have to say I was very skeptical as I am a very logical person and not very “touchy feely”.

However, when you want to avoid drugs and surgeries, you open your mind a bit.  And I did.

Sore Lower Back

Several weeks later I no longer had a sore lower back. I no longer had a shooting pain down my leg.  I no longer had to miss work due to my back pain.

How was this done?

The Secret

Dr Sarno’s theory focuses on how the mind causes pain in the body as a reaction to stress. This usually manifests itself in a sore lower back or neck.

The brain is reacting to emotional stress and tries to distract the person from it by causing physical pain.  This is usually the brain restricting oxygen flow to the back muscles resulting is a very sore lower back.

This lack of oxygen makes the muscles tighten and spasm causing significant pain.  The person then becomes convinced they have a physical problem despite not having an specific event causing it.

The belief in physical pain causes the person to shut down and avoid any kind of exercise. This cements things in the brain that the problem is a physical one.

A vicious cycle.

To break that cycle, you must convince your brain that you are wise to what it is trying to do.  That, and the reason you have a sore lower back is due to stress and mild oxygen deprivation.

Sounds easy right?  

The brain is more powerful than you think. So, let’s tackle how I got this done.

1) Daily Reminders

Positive affirmations worked very well for me and helped me remain focused on losing the back pain.  For me, reciting reminders that my sore lower back was not physical was key to my focus on relieving the stress.

My favorite: “There is nothing physically wrong with my back.”

2) Stay Active

Babying my back was certainly not helping me so I decided I would start walking.  I did for short amounts of time at first and then increased.  Soon I was biking for 45 minutes and working out regularly.  Remember, being “laid up” convinces your brain that you have a physical problem.

3) Get Educated

Keep reading up on TMS and understand the condition. Dr. Sarno’s books are wonderful and there are testimonials in there that are extremely inspiring.

Do yourself and your sore lower back a favor, and pick up one of these books.  I recommend “Healing Back Pain” as that was a real eye-opener for me.

I promise you will learn something you did not know about your brain’s ability to cause pain.

Take Action

Please don’t read this and say “Interesting, I wonder if that would work.”

What harm is it to try?  There are no medications to take, no expensive equipment to buy or no surgery to contemplate.

Simply see if your mind is causing your sore lower back.  You have nothing to lose. 

ACTION: I urge you to read through the site starting with “What Is TMS”.  You’ll be glad you did.


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Welcome to the site.  The authority for everything related to tension myositis syndrome (TMS) and back pain.  Be sure to follow us and feedback is always welcome.

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