Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain in the muscles and joints throughout the body along with fatigue, memory problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches, and more. For many fibromyalgia sufferers, it’s been a long road of doctor visits, tests, and trial and error to have finally arrived at their diagnosis. From there, it can be a roller coaster of healthcare options to find ways to ease the pain, get better sleep, and try to function as normally as possible. While there is no clear, established treatment plan for fibromyalgia sufferers since each person’s case presents so differently, there are changes you can phase into your life that can help bring some needed relief.
5 Ways to Feel Better with Fibromyalgia
- Establish a support system – meeting or chatting with people who are going through a shared experience can be helpful on many levels. While friends and family members who don’t live with fibromyalgia day in and day out can give you some much-needed support, talking to someone who has walked in your shoes offers connection on a different level. It might also point you new treatment options that you may not have tried or encountered in your own search for answers.
- Eat nutritious, healthy foods – when you live with fibromyalgia, it is especially important to pay attention to what you’re eating (and drinking). What you are eating can be just as important as the foods you avoid. Incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help keep your gut healthy and energy levels up. Making sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and muscular pain. Some fibromyalgia sufferers find success in eliminating potential flare-up triggers like dairy, caffeine, processed foods that contain food additives (I.e. MSG or aspartame), and gluten.
- Manage your stress – stress is an unavoidable part of life, but there are tools we can use in order to manage it better. For fibromyalgia sufferers, stress levels can be one of the number one things that can trigger a flare-up of symptoms and leave you feeling a lot worse. Relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises can help you to feel better. Winding down your day with a warm bath can also ease stress, relax muscles, and set you up for a better night of sleep.
- Try to exercise more – when you’re feeling fatigued and have pain all over, exercise is probably the absolute last thing on your mind. However, exercise is one of the best ways to alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, and it doesn’t take vigorous training to accomplish some relief. Exercise increases endorphin production – your body’s natural pain-killing hormones. Exercise also increases strength, improves flexibility, and can help you get a better quality of sleep at night. Starting off slowly is the way to go. This can look like a walk around the block with the dog (or a friend), pedaling for 10 minutes on a stationary bike, swimming a few laps in the pool, or attending a yoga class.
- Take good care of your nervous system – the more that is understood about fibromyalgia, the more it points to a “miscommunication” of pain signals within the central nervous system (CNS). People who live with fibromyalgia experience pain differently than those without the condition. While it was once believed that fibromyalgia was an inflammatory condition, research now points to origins within the central nervous system that causes an amplification of pain. The vertebrae of your spine are designed to protect the delicate and vital tissues of the CNS. When there are problems with spinal alignment, whether due to injury or wear and tear over time, it can compromise the way the CNS works and cause the conditions under which fibromyalgia might be allowed to develop.
How Upper Cervical Care Can Help with Fibromyalgia
The focus of upper cervical chiropractic care is on the uppermost two vertebrae in the neck where it forms a connection to the base of the skull. Why focus on this small area of the spine? Where the head and neck meet is a critical part of the central nervous system (CNS) that is relevant to fibromyalgia sufferers for several reasons:
- Brainstem function – the position of the atlas at the junction between the head and neck give it the critical job of providing protection for the brainstem. The brainstem controls many of the body’s life-sustaining functions and acts as a switchboard for signals traveling between the brain and body. An atlas misalignment can inhibit normal brainstem function, leading to a host of possible fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Restoration of normal blood flow – normal atlas alignment plays an important role in the ability of blood to flow normally between the head and neck, giving the tissues of your central nervous system the oxygen and nutrients it relies on to work properly.
- Improved CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) flow – cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the brain and is circulated throughout the central nervous system to deliver nutrients and clear the tissues of metabolic wastes. Abnormal positioning of the atlas can obstruct the normal flow of CSF, increasing pressure inside the head.
It’s easy to see, when it comes to fibromyalgia, how important it is to be sure that the atlas is properly aligned. This is what sets the trajectory for the health of the rest of the spine and nervous system. Not only is upper cervical chiropractic care unique for the reasons discussed above, it also stands out because of its precise, gentle approach. Upper cervical chiropractors take the time to analyze each case individually and create an adjustment that is built for that person, allowing the correction to use minimal force while accomplishing the desired result. For fibromyalgia sufferers, this can mean a reduction or even complete resolution of symptoms and a return to a better quality of life. To learn more about upper cervical care and to find a practitioner in your area, use the search feature on this site.
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