Fibromyalgia and Chiropractic Treatment

Fibromyalgia, a disorder that can cause chronic widespread pain across the musculoskeletal system, affects at least 2% of the general population, not counting those who never seek treatment for their pain.  This disease process affects women nearly ten times more than it affects men, and brings a host of bizarre and baffling symptoms with it.  Fibromyalgia sufferers can have, in addition to chronic pain:

fibromyalgia nerves

·      Tension headaches

·      Fatigue

·      Autoimmune diseases

·      Digestive disorders

·      Sciatica

·      TMJ disorders

·      Low back pain

·      Anxiety and depression

Many fibromyalgia patients report sleep disturbances such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome, with a lack of sleep worsening their existing problems.

With such a wide variety of symptoms, many patients fear that their “invisible illness” is not accepted by the medical community, but there are ways that a firm diagnosis of fibromyalgia is reached.  People who have chronic widespread pain throughout their bodies with no underlying medical cause for at least three months are considered to have a possible fibromyalgia diagnosis.  In addition, the fibromyalgia patient will have at least 11 tender points out of a possible 18 specific areas on their bodies; when these are pressed, the patient will be very sensitive to pain.

The patient’s doctor will order blood work to make sure the patient has no other medical conditions.  Generally, these tests will include:

 

  • Rheumatoid facto
  • Thyroid function
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Cyclic Citrullinated peptide test
  • ESR

Fibromyalgia is Still Mysterious

To date, the medical community is still unclear on what causes fibromyalgia.  The complex symptomology of the disorder has lead to many different theories, but none has been proven.

There is some evidence that fibromyalgia is caused by an imbalance of neurochemicals within the central nervous system, including the spinal cord, nerves, and brain.  Other findings suggest that, because patients often present with depression or other mood disorders, the cause is psychological.  Because fibromyalgia patients can be hypersensitive to the smallest pain factors, including activity and normally unpainful pressure, and because of the emotional factors in many patients, the condition could be caused by a combination of both physical imbalances and psychological triggers.  Those who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia typically have a family history of it, suggesting there could be a genetic component to the disorder as well.

Ultimately, it seems that fibromyalgia is causes by overactive nerves that cause widespread tenderness and pain.  Patients suffering the disorder will have what is termed “flare-ups” or “flares.”  Some common triggers of a flare could be illness or infection, physical trauma, and emotional stress.

Natural Ways to Combat Fibromyalgia

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a natural pain reliever with some anti-inflammatory properties as well.  It is derived from the pepper plant, and when it is rubbed onto a painful location, it encourages the body to release a chemical we call substance P.  As the body lowers its amounts of substance P, pain is reduced.  Capsaicin is used for all sorts of chronic pain in diseases and disorders ranging from cluster headaches to diabetes.  It is even recommended as a natural pain reliever for cancer.  It can be helpful in temporarily reducing the pain of fibromyalgia.

Vitamin D

Patients suffering from fibromyalgia tend to have lower than normal levels of magnesium and vitamin D, suggesting that this may have something to do with the pain associated with the disorder.  Because vitamin D is shown to help increase nerve and muscle functions, supplementing the diet may offer some help.  AN issue of Pain Magazine in January 2012 published an online study showing that supplementing vitamin D levels for eight weeks showed a decrease in fibromyalgia symptoms in thirty female test subjects.

Massage Therapy

While it is hard to document the benefits of massage therapy clinically, it is an acceptable pain management therapy for fibromyalgia sufferers.  Massage therapy targets the muscle tightness and tenderness felt by fibromyalgia patients and encourages relaxation.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture, based on ancient Chinese medicine, is one of the oldest treatment forms available for chronic pain.  Studies confirm that it is a useful therapy to relieve the pain of fibromyalgia.  In addition to traditional acupuncture treatment, three studies have verified that electroacupuncture, using pulsed electrical currents, is extremely beneficial.

Biofeedback

This alternative treatment therapy helps you to control pain by using a mind-body connection, controlling your pain with mind power.  The feedback is measured in changes to brain waves, muscle tension, and skin temperature.  This treatment is most helpful in combination with other treatment plans.

Chiropractic Therapy

Chiropractic therapy has been shown to be effective at targeting the areas that are causing pain and reducing the pain significantly.  Because these specialists are trained in the neuromusculoskeletal system, treatments that target the painful areas will have an overall positive effect on the nervous system.

chiropractic fibromyalgia

 

Chiropractic Therapy in Fibromyalgia Patients

Chiropractic therapy has been proven to provide effective relief to chronic fibromyalgia patients.  In a study released from a Mayo clinic, 37% of the studied 300 patients suffering from fibromyalgia had gone to a chiropractor during the prior six months.  Out of these patients, 60% found relief by the chiropractor’s combined treatment plan of adjustments and ischemic compression, which targets soft tissue.  These patients reported less pain, decreased fatigue, and improved sleep patterns.  The benefits that these patients reported lasted throughout their one-month follow-up visit.

The reason chiropractic care is so beneficial for fibromyalgia patients is because it specializes on relationships between the nervous system and the spine.  The nervous system is the body’s control center, and if any spinal misalignments are present, called subluxations, they will negatively affect your entire body.

When vertebral subluxations are present, they result in irritation to the nerves exiting the spine and can irritate the nerves that pass impulses to the cerebellum.  The cerebellum is the part of the brain that promotes coordination, balance, and body awareness.  It also plays an important role in emotional stability and cognitive functions.  It’s easy to see how the irritation of the spine can result in any number of fibromyalgia symptoms.

Chiropractic adjustments focus on restoring the proper alignment of the spine.  This removes the source of nerve irritation and allows the free flow of neurological signals from the central nervous system out to the rest of the body and brain.

While more research is being conducted to prove the benefits of chiropractic care to fibromyalgia patients, it is apparent that they can find significant relief of their symptoms through combined therapy plans that include chiropractic adjustments.

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