Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and extreme tenderness to pressure. The pain from fibromyalgia is also accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men, and it typically presents after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. Also, patients with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are considered to be at an increased risk due to their compromised immune system. In order to meet the criteria for diagnosis, the patient must have widespread pain in all 4 quadrants of the body for 3 consecutive months along with 11 of 18 designated tender points.
The symptoms associated with fibromyalgia vary greatly and can include widespread pain and fatigue. Those suffering from fibromyalgia also typically have neck pain, tension headaches, TMJ disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems, low back pain, sciatica, anxiety, and depression. Sleeping disorders, such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea, can also occur. The causes of fibromyalgia are generally unknown but are considered to be related to infection or post-traumatic stress. Some researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies pain sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. The Mayo Clinic reports that repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop memories of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals. Recent studies suggest that people with fibromyalgia have a small-fiber neuropathy where they get faulty signals from tiny nerves all over the body. This causes them to be over-sensitive to pain signals. It is also believed that fibromyalgia patients may have excessive amounts of nerve fibers lining the blood vessels of the skin, which can make their body more predisposed to overreact to pain sensations.
Treating Fibromyalgia with Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is an effective treatment for those suffering with fibromyalgia. Misalignments of the spinal bones (subluxations) put pressure on the nerves and interrupt the communication between the brain and the rest of the body as well as the body to the brain. As the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves) controls and coordinates the function of the entire body, it must function efficiently and effectively, especially for individuals with fibromyalgia. As we correct the misalignments in your spine allowing your nervous system to function at an optimal level, this allows neurological messages to be passed from the central nervous system to the body and back to the brain.