Fibromyalgia Awareness and Diagnosis
Fibromyalgia is a complex physiological condition marked by chronic widespread pain, stiffness and burning sensations throughout the body. Some also experience depression, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, numbness, dizziness, headaches, irritability, mood changes or sleep disorders. Even minor exertion can aggravate pain and increase fatigue. In the United States alone, five million people have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It is one of the most common musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorders in America. It affects approximately 10% of the population and occurs most frequently in women ages 20-50.
An assessment of pain and symptoms is still the primary method of clinical diagnosis. Fibromyalgia used to be diagnosed by “tender spots” spread throughout the body. The points for traditional fibromyalgia diagnosis include: neck, base of skull, back of the head, upper edge of breast, shoulders, elbows, buttocks, knees and hips.
There is a common misconception that Fibromyalgia is a “made up” disease; however, current research is proving otherwise. Immune system biomarkers can be measured in a fibromyalgia patient’s bloodstream. It is uncertain if these molecules are a byproduct of chronic pain or the cause of it. These findings currently offer no insight into effective treatments, but do help us differentiate between fibromyalgia and other pain related chronic disease.
Current guidelines for diagnosis require that widespread pain lasts longer than three months. When a patient meets this criteria, the process of differential diagnosis is then used to rule out health problems that have similar symptoms (including lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, axial spondyloarthritis, osteoarthritis, lyme disease, thyroid disease, type 2 diabetes, anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome and any number of untreated infections). Many patients who experience fibromyalgia-like symptoms have undergone extensive testing without conclusive answers. This is frustrating and expensive– often leading to the question, “is this all in my head?” A clear diagnosis is difficult to find because it is “invisible,” and often occurs alongside other illnesses.
Physiology of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is the hyper-sensitization of signal processing. Sensory receptors in the nervous system are constantly scanning body tissue in order to detect changes in the internal and external environment. These receptors detect temperature, light, pain, etc. The central nervous system is the electrical communication system of the body and is the transportation “interstate” for relaying sensory receptor information. In fibromyalgia patients, this communication system is interrrupted– a “crash on the freeway.” Hypersensitivity and increased pain is experienced anytime there is a disruption in the signal processing of sensory receptor information.
The brainstem is the “control center” for nerve signal processing; it regulates the information to and from the brain and body. Proper functioning of the brainstem ensures that all organs and tissues receive the right amount of nerve energy required to operate effectively. A misalignment at or near the brainstem interferes with healthy nerve signal processing of sensory receptor information.
Upper Cervical Care as Primary Treatment
Most fibromyalgia treatments use pharmaceutical drugs to block signals from sensory receptors. Such drugs include opioid analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxants. Drugs can be effective in suppressing symptoms, but do nothing to solve the initial cause of the problem. Patients suffering from fibromyalgia have had their health restored through upper cervical care. This is because instead of managing symptoms, the malfunction origin (structural injury) is identified and corrected.
Upper cervical treatment begins with an extensive neurological examination to locate spinal cord interference in the upper cervical spine. We use precise imaging to determine exactly how your upper neck vertebrae have misaligned. Data from the cone beam computerized tomography (CBCT), or digital x-ray allows us to make a specific spinal correction that does not include twisting, popping, pulling or cracking. It is the least invasive, most gentle and exact treatment available to date. The correction repositions the vertebrae, allowing the central nervous system to restore nerve communication. The body’s natural healing process begins and symptoms wane once vital communicative functions return.
Upper cervical doctors are getting exceptional results in treating fibromyalgia. Clinical trials and case studies have documented the improvement fibromyalgia patients experience under upper cervical care. Unlike other methods, upper cervical chiropractors can spot even the slightest misalignment of C1 and C2 vertebrae. A fraction of a millimeter can have a huge impact– a narrowed spinal canal. The effects include decreased neurological function and irritation with hypersensitivity to the brainstem and surrounding tissue. This results in the improper sending of signals to and from the brain and body, leading to pain and nervous system disorders such as fibromyalgia. Fixing the cause of hypersensitivity and improper signal processing is what makes upper cervical care an effective treatment for fibromyalgia patients.
Sources: blairchiropractic.com, uppercervicalspine.com
Correct signal processing and begin healing today!