Chiropractic Care for Fibromyalgia

Chiropractic care can help relieve pressure off the nerves of the spine allowing the nerve transmissions to flow freely. When there is less interference with the nervous system, the body can function better with less inflammation and sensitivity to pain.

What is fibromyalgia? What are the symptoms people might experience?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Fibromyalgia, it’s interesting. It’s usually a disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain, but it is widespread. It is not a very specific thing. If I fall and I hit my shoulder, I have pain only in my right shoulder, but this is very widespread. It’s diffuse. It’s accompanied by fatigue, sleep issues, mood issues, memory issues. These people usually have a high level of stress, and it can amplify painful sensations, really affecting the way the nerve system processes pain signals.

Symptoms, sometimes they can start up after an infection, a psychological stress, physical trauma. In other cases, it can just gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. It is much highly seen in women over men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also will get a lot of tension headaches, TMJ disorders, anxiety, depression, and even irritable bowel syndromes. Those are the things that we really see. It is just like a group of symptoms that they’ve kind of classified into this fibromyalgia syndrome.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: It’s interesting you ask that question, because there is no blood test that you can do to figure out if someone has fibromyalgia. Basically, what you are going to be looking at is really if they have a series of these different types of painful symptoms, diffuse muscle aches, headaches, and all these things. If they have those, and they found no other specific cause, usually they will call it fibromyalgia.

It is almost like a wastebasket diagnosis. If they have this group of symptoms, without any cause, it’s like, “Okay, you have fibromyalgia.” Remember that this can occur along with other types of conditions. It might take time to figure out if they have different problems. I always say that everyone is entitled to have more than one problem. It might not just be one specific thing.

How can chiropractic care provide relief for fibromyalgia symptoms?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Well one of the most common theories looking at fibromyalgia, they think that it is kind of like this amplification of the way the brain perceives these pain messages. When people have misalignments of the spine, which chiropractors call subluxations, those have a tendency to interfere or irritate the nerve transmission from the brain, to the rest of the body. Very simply, your spine, the bones of the spine, are designed to protect your central nervous system, which consists of the spinal cord, which is completely encased in bone.

But, where the nerve roots exit off the cord in between the bones, stress, tension, poor posture, accidents, falls, can create misalignments, which will irritate those nerves, cause them to be hypersensitive. Then patients start to present with fibromyalgia type symptoms. If we can get the pressure off the nerves, they can get a lot of help. It’s really important.

There are also a lot of different traditional medical type of treatments that people will use as well. But, most of the time those things really involve drugs, and drugs always have side effects. You are really only masking or covering the symptoms; you are not getting to the root cause.

At least in chiropractic, we try to get at the root cause of the irritation to the nerve system to bring the resting tension of the nerve system to a lower tone, and a more relaxed nerve system, so it’s not so hyper-excitable.

Are there specific chiropractic methods that work best on the fibromyalgia patients?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: To be honest with you Liz, I am of the opinion that all chiropractic techniques work. I employ certain techniques in my office. I wouldn’t go around saying that my technique is better than this guy’s technique. If this guy uses a low-force technique, or this guy uses a no-force technique, and this one uses osseous adjustments, which are the ones that most people think of with a clicking and popping associated with it, I don’t really care what technique you use. I think all techniques applied correctly will have a positive result on the nerve system and improve the quality and function of the nerve system, and therefore help that person deal with their fibromyalgia symptoms at a much better level.

Are there are other natural ways to reduce the pain associated with fibromyalgia?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Yeah, there are a lot of different things. One of the things that they talk about it is inflammation in the diet, right? Trying to do things that are less inflammatory to the body, eat foods that cause less inflammation. Those things are important as well. There’s acupuncture, they get a lot of good results. There are a lot of different things that people are doing, relaxation, laughing. They talk about taking baths, mindful movement, exercise, Thai Chi, there’s just lots of different things that say that they can improve … Meditation, massage is also widely used as a complimentary alternative for fibromyalgia.

There are myriads of things. Their basic opinion is fibromyalgia can’t really be cured. It can really be managed, is what most people talk about. It’s just managing the symptoms and remembering that not all therapies are going to help everyone. People need to experiment and find out what works for them individually.

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