Let’s take a few minutes to learn about fibromyalgia and how it impacts your life. Then we will consider what you can do to help relieve some of your suffering. Here are some interesting facts you may or may not know about fibromyalgia (FM):
- Fibromyalgia is not an inflammation or autoimmune based illness. Rather, research points to the nervous system as being involved.
- Lab tests or x-rays can rule out other conditions, but there is no definitive test for fibromyalgia as of yet.
- There is no cure, but some have found a bit of relief through the technique we will discuss at the end of the article.
- Fibromyalgia impacts as many as 4 percent of the population, with women being affected more often than men.
- Fibromyalgia patients report feeling much better with proper self-care including mild exercise and getting proper rest.
- Doctors no longer use tender points to diagnose fibromyalgia. They now go by the relevant symptoms you display.
Fibromyalgia is neurological in nature and is very common. It causes widespread pain and sensitivity to touch. The pain and tenderness may fluctuate and change places within the body. If you suffer from this chronic illness, you may find yourself fatigued a lot of the time and have problems getting proper sleep.
Fibromyalgia occurs most often in females, although males may develop it as well. If you have a rheumatic disease — health issues that have to do with the joints, muscles, and bones — you are more likely to develop FM. This may include lupus, ankylosing spondylosis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Fibromyalgia can occur at any age but is most often seen in middle age.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
As mentioned, fibromyalgia is known for widespread pain throughout the entire body. Other symptoms may be:
- Severe tiredness
- Cognitive problems (memory and thinking ability)
- Sleep issues — waking up tired
- Tenderness to the touch or pressure affecting joints, muscles, and the skin
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Digestive problems — IBS, GERD
- Pelvic pain
- TMD — pain in the jaw, jaw clicking, and ringing in the ears
- Irritable or overactive bladder
- Tension or migraines headaches
The Cause of Fibromyalgia
The reasons for fibromyalgia are unclear. Depending on the person, FM can manifest itself in different ways. The most recent research suggests there is clear involvement of the central nervous system, made up of the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord. It is important to realize FM is NOT an autoimmune, joint, muscle, or inflammatory disorder. There is some genetic component to it, as it does run in families. It is likely there are certain genes that make it more likely to get FM than those without these genes. This is not the only reason for FM, however.
It has been determined that a triggering factor sets off fibromyalgia. This can be something to do with the spine, arthritis, physical stress, or an injury. Emotional stress has been seen to trigger FM. When fibromyalgia is triggered, the way the brain and body communicate with each other through the spinal cord and brainstem changes. It is possible that brain chemicals and proteins change also. Another recent term used to describe fibromyalgia is Central Pain Amplification disorder. Basically, this means that the volume of pain levels in the brain are turned up too loud. Fibromyalgia does affect one’s life quality, but it is still considered benign as it does not cause heart attacks, strokes, loss of life, physical deformities, or cancer.
Another interesting fact that has recently been seen regarding FM is that the thalamus — the part of the brain the regulates your pain — is often not getting the right amount of blood. This can cause it to malfunction, and pain sensations can automatically be altered.
How Can I Live Successfully with Fibromyalgia?
Here are some simple tips you can try to make coping with fibromyalgia a little easier:
- Relax: Take some time every day to practice deep breathing exercises and stress relieving techniques.
- Exercise: While this may seem daunting when you are in pain, it has been proven to be very effective. Remember to stretch, “start low and go slow,” and create a comfortable routine.
- Set a sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Look forward, not back: Rather than worrying about why your illness happened, focus on what you need to do to feel better.
- Educate yourself: Learn as much as you possibly can about the condition and how best to care for it. Share this with family, friends, and co-workers.
Fibromyalgia Pain Relief Columbus
Getting Help for Fibromyalgia from an Upper Cervical Chiropractor
An interesting connection has been established between a misalignment in the bones of the upper neck and the development of fibromyalgia. The C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) are very special bones of the neck. They have the responsibility of protecting the brainstem. However, they are also designed to be very flexible, allowing the head to move in many directions. This puts them at risk to misalign due to a blow to the head or neck or an overextending of the muscles of the neck. If either of these bones move out of place, they put undue pressure on the brainstem. This can cause it to malfunction and send improper signals to the brain. For example, the brainstem may send a signal that the body is experiencing extreme pain when there is actually little or no pain. This can lead to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Another problem can ensue when the bones misalign: they can act as a blockage and cause blood and cerebrospinal fluid to not properly exit or enter the brain. This may be the reason the thalamus does not get enough blood to operate properly.
Upper cervical chiropractors have been specifically trained to find these misalignments and then use a gentle procedure to correct them that does not involve popping or cracking the back or neck. Many patients see relief of their fibromyalgia symptoms after only a few adjustments.