Fibromyalgia is a common pain condition that affects around 1 in 50 people in the U.S. It can be difficult to diagnose because there is no specific test, and it can also be difficult to treat. Very often, treatment is focused on using pain medication and antidepressants to help patients to cope with their pain. Chiropractic care offers a different approach to managing fibromyalgia symptoms, without the use of medications.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are quite varied and affect the entire body. They can include:
* Widespread pain - aching, burning, sharp/stabbing pain
* Increased sensitivity to pain - includes feeling pain when you wouldn't expect to (e.g. to a light touch)
* Muscle stiffness - worse after being in one position for a long time
* Poor sleep
* Fibro-fog - difficulty with thinking, remembering, and learning
* Dizziness and clumsiness
* Feeling too hot or too cold
* Restless leg syndrome
* Anxiety and depression (potentially caused by living with fibromyalgia rather than being a symptom)
What causes fibromyalgia?
No-one knows for sure what the cause of fibromyalgia is, but there are some theories. There is some evidence that it is caused by low levels of serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine in the brain, These chemicals are responsible for controlling mood, appetite, and sleep, and they are also involved in how pain messages are processed. There is also some evidence that there is a more general problem with the way pain messages are processed in the central nervous system, affecting how they are carried around the body.
There does seem to be a genetic component to fibromyalgia, but it can also be triggered by life events, such as:
* Relationship breakdown
Fibromyalgia affects 7 times more women than men and tends to develop between the ages of 30 and 50.
How can chiropractic care help with fibromyalgia?
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are varied and widespread and there is no cure, but proper treatment can help patients to manage their condition and can provide relief for some of the symptoms. Chiropractic care offers a variety of treatments that can help to treat many of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. These can include:
* Spinal manipulation
* Soft tissue therapy
* Passive stretching
* Connective tissue manipulation
* Ischemic compression
* Lifestyle advice
* Exercise program (including resistance and strength training)
* Sleep advice
In most cases, a combined approach to treatment is offered to give the patient the most relief from their symptoms. For example, chiropractic care can help to reduce pain intensity, lower the levels of disability, and improve sleep (https://chiro.org/LINKS/ABSTRACTS/Short_and_Long_Term_Results_of_Connective.shtml) and can reduce fatigue levels (https://chiro.org/LINKS/ABSTRACTS/Combined_Ischemic_Compression_and_Spinal_Manipulation.shtml). It can also improve patients' range of motion in their back (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9272472/). The focus of treatment will depend on the symptoms that are affecting the patient's quality of life.
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition that affects a large number of people, and it has no cure. Aside from medical approaches, chiropractic care can help to improve many of the common symptoms of fibromyalgia, improving patients' quality of life, their ability to perform daily tasks, and reducing their pain levels.