Fibromyalgia & Chiropractic Care

Fibromyalgia is a particularly difficult disorder of the musculoskeletal system because not only does it cause globalized pain throughout the entire body, but it also boosts the pain signal entering the brain by changing the way it processes pain messages. The associated secondary symptoms to fibromyalgia are also especially burdensome because they affect some of the deepest rhythms of life like sleep, energy level, memory, and mood.

The causes of fibromyalgia are linked to the experience of physical trauma from an accident or surgery but it can also result from infection or psychological stress. There are cases however, in which the cause cannot be traced to any one single incident and seems to arise from an accumulation of symptoms over a long period of time, including:

  • Widespread pain or a constant dull ache over the entire body that lasts for longer than three months
  • Fatigue that makes one awaken in the morning tired even after eight hours of sleep or after sleep interrupted by sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome
  • Cognitive difficulties sometimes described as “fibro fog” which makes paying attention difficult or concentrating on mental tasks impossible
  • Related problems include depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen

For unknown reasons, Fibromyalgia affects many more women than it does men and seems to be accompanied by a host of other disorders like tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression.

To date there is no completely effective cure for fibromyalgia and traditional doctors, more often than not, must solely rely on prescribing medication. Some will recommend exercise, relaxation, and stress reduction programs to help mitigate the pain but few mainstream doctors understand the benefits of chiropractic care for the symptoms of this life disrupting disorder.

A recent study looked at how chiropractic care, particularly upper cervical spinal adjustment, as part of a multimodal physical therapy program, might help people who suffer from fibromyalgia. A total of 120 patients (52 of whom were female) were divided into two groups, one which received chiropractic adjustments to the upper cervical spine, and other which didn’t. 

Paricipants were given the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire before and after treatment, along with other tests including the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory. A twelve week follow up found that patients who received chiropractic care reported better results than those who didn’t. The study also aimed at finding out if chiropractic care had long term effects so there was a one year follow up and the results in favor of chiropractic care remained positive. 

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Aurélien Glabas