Fibromyalgia is an arthritis-related syndrome which can be difficult to diagnose. Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic condition characterized by body aches, widespread pain, sleep problems, extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety, and other symptoms, in combination with tenderness of specific areas (muscles and tender points) on the body.

Fibromyalgia Basics:

Fibromyalgia is an arthritis-related syndrome characterized by widespread or generalized muscular pain, tenderness, and fatigue. Fibromyalgia literally means pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Fibromyalgia is considered a syndrome because it is a set of signs and symptoms occurring together. It is not considered a type of arthritis, but definitely is a form of soft-tissue rheumatism (conditions which cause pain and stiffness around joints, as well as in muscles and bone). There is no inflammation associated with fibromyalgia.

Cause of Fibromyalgia:

The cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown. Researchers have suggested that fibromyalgia patients experience pain amplification caused by abnormal sensory processing in the central nervous system. Other research has determined that some fibomyalgia patients have:

-Increased level of substance P (a chemical which increases nerve sensitivity to pain) in the spinal cord
-Decreased blood flow to the thalamus region of the brain
-Imbalance of hormones in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (affecting how the patient copes with stress)
-Low levels of serotonin and tryptophan
-Abnormal cytokine function

Symptoms Associated With Fibromyalgia:

Other than the primary symptom associated with fibromyalgia — widespread muscular pain — there are other symptoms which are linked to the syndrome. The symptoms can come and go and vary in intensity:

-Severe fatigue
-Irritable Bowel Syndrome
-Irritable bladder
-Cognitive and memory problems
-TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder
-Restless leg syndrome
-Pelvic pain
-Noise and temperature sensitivity
-Anxiety or depression
-Skin color changes

Chiropractic Care and Fibromyalgia

Recently, fibromyalgia patients have been seeking chiropractic care increasingly often. Because fibromyalgia causes numerous tender points all over the body, many fibromyalgia patients suffer from back pain, neck pain, and leg cramps. In an attempt to solve these problems, many sufferers have looked to chiropractors. Because simple adjustments to the neck and spine can restore the carriage of the whole body, a lot of fibromyalgia sufferers find that alignments of the spine can significantly reduce pain all over their bodies.

Upper Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Many fibromyalgia patients suffer from a condition called upper cervical spinal stenosis. This causes the coverings of the upper spine, known as meninges, to become compressed. This can cause severe, debilitating pain all over the body. Chiropractors can adjust the head and neck so the spine is no longer compressed, helping to relieve the widespread pain symptoms of fibromyalgia.

How Effective is Chiropractic Care in Fibromyalgia Patients?

Numerous studies have been conducted analyzing the benefits of chiropractic care in fibromyalgia patients. A 1985 study asked 81 fibromyalgia patients to indicate drug or alternative treatments that best relieved their pain. Chiropractic care treatment scored surprisingly high in this study. Another study examined the effectiveness of spinal manipulation in relieving fibromyalgia symptoms. After just 15 treatments, fibromyalgia patients suffered from less pain and fatigue, and actually enjoyed better sleep quality.