Fibromyalgia is a disorder that brings widespread pain, aching, and stiffness in the body. In addition, it involves fatigue, poor sleep quality, and mental cloudiness. It is a diagnosis that is becoming more common. It is 7 times more common among women. Although fibromyalgia is not life-threatening, the persistent and painful symptoms can seriously damage the quality of life.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
People used to believe that fibromyalgia was an inflammatory condition in the body. However, researchers now believe that it involves the impairment in the pain processing of the central nervous system. People with fibromyalgia have a heightened sensitivity to pain compared with those without the disorder. The parts of the brain that process pain signals interprets them as being more intense.
Other factors may play a part in the development of fibromyalgia. There is possibly a genetic component to fibromyalgia (parents may pass it down to their children). Also, it can develop following an extremely stressful or traumatic event (physical or emotional). Moreover, other health conditions such as lupus, depression, or rheumatoid arthritis, may bring it out. Patients may experience occasional flareups after changes in diet, sleep schedule, or even exposure to environmental factors.
What are the Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The hallmark symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread aches and pains in the muscles, tendons, and joints of the body and extreme fatigue. However, there are many other symptoms of fibromyalgia, including:
- Headaches or migraines
- Jaw pain
- Anxiety or depression
- Painful urination
- Restless leg syndrome
- Heightened sensitivity to light, noise, and temperature
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Fibro-fog – difficulties with memory and cognitive function
- Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
- Painful menstrual periods
The road to a fibromyalgia diagnosis can sometimes be long and arduous. Firstly, there is no single diagnostic test or exam that can be done. Secondly, the major fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain and fatigue can mimic those of many other common health conditions. Lastly, fibromyalgia symptoms can also come and go over time, drawing out the process.
Old diagnosis guidelines looked for 18 tender spots to be present in the body, but newer criteria include widespread pain that has persisted for longer than 3 months, the presence of other symptoms such as fatigue and cognitive issues with the absence of any other underlying condition that might be causing the problem.
What Role does the Central Nervous System Play in Fibromyalgia?
Your body’s central nervous system, or CNS, is consists of the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord. It is responsible for controlling and coordinating every single function of the body; everything from voluntary movements to all the ongoing, life-sustaining functions like respiration and circulation are under the direct control of the CNS. This system is so important that a bone protects it. Your brain is protected by your skull, the brainstem by the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae, and your spinal cord by the rest of the bones that make up your spinal column.
What are my Treatment Options?
Generally speaking, since no two cases of fibromyalgia are alike, there is no single treatment option that will provide symptomatic relief for everyone. Medications, either over-the-counter or prescribed, are often used to help with pain relief, aid with sleep, and to help combat depression and anxiety. Lifestyle changes are also key to finding relief. Getting regular, gentle exercise will build strength, help keep pain at bay, and help in getting a good night of sleep. Eating a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can boost energy levels and reduce fatigue.
Getting Help for Fibromyalgia from an Upper Cervical Chiropractor
Upper cervical chiropractors focus on a small area of the spine where the neck meets the head at the base of the skull. The two vertebrae located here, the atlas and axis, serve to protect the brainstem. However, through trauma or wear and tear over time, these vertebrae can misalign and hinder the function of the part of the central nervous system they’re tasked with protecting. The brainstem acts as a switchboard for signals traveling to and from the brain. If normal brainstem function is impaired due to irritation from an upper cervical misalignment, then it can influence how your brain perceives pain. This can be a big underlying factor for people suffering from fibromyalgia.
The primary goal of upper cervical chiropractic care is to restore normal central nervous system function by removing the interference caused by an atlas misalignment. We recognize that proper CNS function is essential for the normal processing of pain signals, regulation of hormones related to the sleep cycle, and overall function. Using a thorough analysis, adjustments to correct atlas positioning are customized for each patient.
Because adjustments are so precise, they require very little force – no forceful popping or twisting is needed in order to make an upper cervical correction. Upper cervical chiropractic care has helped many fibromyalgia sufferers experience a reduction or remission of symptoms and a better quality of life. In short, it is ideal for those who are sick of just covering up their symptoms and are ready to address the underlying causes. To find out more, contact an upper cervical chiropractor in your community to schedule a consultation.