Fibromyalgia is a pain disorder that affects around 10 million people in the US. It is difficult to diagnose and there is no cure but it causes lower levels of quality of life and it can affect your ability to work. Because living with fibromyalgia can be so difficult and mainstream medical treatments can often be ineffective, many people with fibromyalgia turn to chiropractic care for some relief. Thankfully, many of the chiropractic treatments available can help to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia and can help people to live with the condition more easily.
What is fibromyalgia?
The exact cause of fibromyalgia isn't known, but it does appear to be related to an abnormality in how pain signals are processed by the body, potentially because of changes to chemicals in the central nervous system such as serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine.
* widespread pain throughout the body - not localised to one side of the body or to one specific area
* abnormal pain processing - e.g. a touch on the arm could be felt as painful
* sleep problems
* depression and anxiety
* muscle stiffness, especially in the mornings
* digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome
* "fibro fog" - problems with cognitive processing, memory, decision making
Fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed in middle age and affects women much more than men, at a ratio of 8:2.
Fibromyalgia is usually treated with a combination of psychotherapy and a variety of medications, including painkillers, antidepressants, sleeping tablets, and muscle relaxants. Many people with fibromyalgia can end up feeling like these treatment options aren't getting to the root of their problems and are instead just putting a bandaid over their symptoms.
How can chiropractic care help with fibromyalgia?
Rather than using a variety of medications to address each individual symptom, chiropractic care takes a whole-body medication-free approach to treating fibromyalgia. Chiropractic treatments don't always focus on the specific area that is affected, but they address underlying issues that could be affecting the entirety of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system. By treating the whole system, very often the issues affecting specific areas of the body are reduced.
Chiropractic practitioners will also work with the patient to determine what they want out of their treatment and will focus the treatment plan on the patient's needs.
Chiropractic care can offer a variety of treatments to help with fibromyalgia, including (but not limited to):
1) Spinal alignment
The chiropractic practitioner will make gentle movements and short gentle thrusts to realign the vertebrae in the spine so that they are in their proper position, and so that their mobility is increased. The spinal cord is vital to the optimal functioning of the central nervous system so ensuring that it is in alignment means that nerve messages are transported and processed as they should be.
2) Chiropractic massage
Massage can help to improve relaxation and sleep, reduce muscle tension, lower the risk of headaches, boost mood, reduce soreness, and lessen the need for pain medication.
Chiropractic practitioners can use manual stretching techniques to improve the functioning of specific joints and reduce their pain.
4) Lifestyle advice
This can include advice about exercise, nutrition, and sleep health.
5) Electic modalities to reduce pain
This can include TENS machines and laser therapy.
Living with fibromyalgia can be distressing and can lower your quality of life. Chiropractic care can help to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain, sleep problems, anxiety, stiffness, headaches, and more. It can also help to reduce the need for medications.