Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness to touch that can occur anywhere in the body.
The literal translation of fibromyalgia (FM) is pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Although researchers are not yet completely certain, many believe that FM amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way the brain processes pain signals. The problem might be a result of overactive nerves in the central nervous system which can cause a more intense response to pain, as if the “volume control” for pain is turned way up.
More than 10 million people in the United States suffer from fibromyalgia. It affects people of all ages, including children, and occurs more often in women than men. FM can impact a person’s life physically, mentally, and socially. The accompanying symptoms are numerous and vary widely among sufferers, which makes fibromyalgia about much more than simply the pain.
Chiropractic care, which works specifically to restore function in the nervous system, has been shown to be quite effective in managing the pain and relieving the symptoms associated with FM. If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, or other neck pain or back pain, and are looking for safe, natural, non-invasive relief, contact us online at our Fort Collins office or call us at 970.377.3557 to learn more about how we can help.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The constellation of symptoms related to FM are often what points to a diagnosis. However, there are 4 main symptoms that are associated with most cases of FM:
The pain is profound, chronic, widespread, and often worse in the morning. It can migrate to all parts of the body and vary in intensity. FM pain descriptions include stabbing, shooting, deep muscular aching, throbbing, weakness, and twitching. Neurological complaints such as numbness, tingling, and burning are often present.
Many people complain of fatigue; however, the fatigue of FM is much more than being tired after a busy day or a sleepless night. The fatigue of FM is an all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with occupational, personal, social, or educational activities. Symptoms include profound exhaustion and poor stamina.
Stiffness is reported by many FM patients and is generally widespread and diffuse, and typically worse in the morning. It is exacerbated the day after physical exertion or exercise.
- Sleep problems
Many people with FM have an associated sleep disorder that prevents them from achieving deep, restful, restorative sleep. Researchers have documented specific and distinctive abnormalities in the Stage 4 deep sleep of FM patients. During sleep, they are constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity, limiting the amount of time they spend in deep sleep.
In addition, there is an extensive list of other signs, symptoms, and overlapping conditions related to fibromyalgia, some of which include:
- TMJ, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel and bladder, headaches and migraines, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea impaired memory and concentration, skin sensitivities and rashes, dry eyes and mouth, ringing in the ears, dizziness, vision problems, neurological symptoms, and impaired coordination, to name some.
FM patients generally note increases in symptoms and severity with some or all of the following: cold, damp weather, stress, and overexertion.
The exact cause of FM is not currently known, which can be extremely frustrating for those suffering from this disorder. Experts agree that various factors may be the cause of FM in any given person:
- Heredity – some research shows fibromyalgia may run in families. It is possible that some people are born with genes that increase their risk of getting it.
- Accidents and injuries – FM may be triggered by an injury or trauma (i.e., auto accidents, surgery).
- Infection – some infections that may be linked to FM include hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr virus, and Lyme disease.
- Autoimmune disorders – these disorders occur when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are examples.
- Psychological and emotional stress – the onset of FM has been linked with certain types of emotional stress (i.e., PTSD).
Sometimes symptoms begin due to one or more of these causes. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. All of these factors make FM difficult to diagnose, especially since there is no specific lab test that can confirm a diagnosis. Current guidelines state that a diagnosis can be made if a person has widespread pain for more than three months, with no underlying medical condition.
Fibromyalgia causes the muscles to tighten resulting in a loss of movement in the spine. As the muscles further tighten this can lead to subluxations, misalignments of the vertebrae causing nerve pressure, then to diminishing healing ability, increasing pain, increasing muscle tightness, decreasing range of motion, and a myriad of other problems. Your Chiropractor will perform a thorough examination of your skeletal system, analyze your health history, and develop the best strategy to not merely relieve your symptoms, but to best manage your fibromyalgia long-term. Chiropractic adjustments align the spine and relieve pressure on the nervous system, restoring normal motion to the spine and allowing the body to heal. Your Chiropractor may also recommend other natural, healthy, safe, non-invasive methods to support further health and healing, such as exercise, relaxation, meditation, and stress-reduction.
Studies have shown chiropractic care to be very effective in the management and improvement of fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and sleep quality. Please contact Heart & Hand Chiropractic to find out how we can help you in your quest for optimal health. Contact our Fort Collins office today at 970.377.3557, or e-mail us online, to schedule a complimentary spinal screening.