Chiropractic Treatment for Fibromyalgia My Experiment

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There are many types of physical treatment options on offer, chiropractic treatment for fibromyalgia is one I had tried a long time ago. At that time I knew nothing of the nervous system so I didn’t understand why the rougher treatments they use didn’t help me at all. Now they, and I, know better.

chiropractic for fibromyalgia

For several months I have experienced high levels of pain in my lower back/pelvis. The doctor had put me on strong NSAIDS, referred me for an Xray and to rheumatology. The issue was that these lists are long. It took three months to get the Xray referral in the end!

Someone told me that chiropractors do Xrays as part of their intake process. So, with nothing to lose, I went to a local chiropractic clinic.

In this post I will share what happened at the initial intake appointment, some research about chiropractic and fibromyalgia, my experience and what I expect going forward.

The intake appointment

They listened to my history, did a hands on assessment and took some scans and Xrays.

I’ve got several subluxations or misalignments (cervical, thoracic and lumbar), some curvature issues, a couple of congenital things and my spine’s obviously been in some stress.

This website defines subluxation:

“A subluxation is a term used to describe a joint that may not work the way it should, whether it is misaligned or not operating properly. Subluxations can occur in any joint within the body including the feet, shoulders, wrists, and knees.”

“When a vertebra becomes misaligned, the pressure put on the nerve roots within the spine can decrease the function of nerve signals between the body and brain. If left untreated, this can cause unbalance within other parts of your body that rely on that vertebra working properly.”

The chiropractor also thinks I’m hypermobile and that my nervous system is likely being battered by these constant messages. So I will follow this up when I finally see the rheumatologist.

Now I was a bit skeptical about chiropractic. However, I know that sometimes non-Western practices (like yoga) can have different terminology, but are actually referring to the same thing. For example, physiotherapists don’t like the term “subluxation”, yet misalignment makes sense. My sacroiliac joints certainly go out of place (and that alone has made the whole thing worth it).

The scan that the chiropractor did showed just how much muscle tension it takes to keep my body upright (a lot). The hope is that these treatments help to reduce that. Then simple things like sitting up without resting on something will be easier.

Watch the video here

A trigger point specialist I know said that trigger points can cause the muscles to spasm and pull the joints out of alignment. So it all appears to be on the similar track.

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Here’s a few research papers for you to follow up if they are of interest

“Two clinical studies have investigated the relationship between the presence of muscle TrPs and joint hypomobility in patients with neck pain. Both studies reported that all patients exhibited segmental hypo-mobility at C3-C4 zygapophyseal joint and TrPs in the upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, or levator scapulae muscles.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2700496/

“It is clinically suggested that manual treatment of an inter-vertebral joint dysfunction may provoke a therapeutic effect in TrPs located in those muscles innervated by the manipulated segment.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2700496/

“Several theories have discussed the relationship between TrP and joint hypomobility. Perhaps the increased tension of the taut muscular bands and facilitation of motor activity can maintain displacement stress on the joint, such that a TrP provokes the joint dysfunction. ” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2700496/

This case study of a man diagnosed with trigger points and given many trigger point injections, with little help, they decided to explore further. They found an Atlas (top of the spinal cord) subluxation.

“In this case, the condition resulted in the numerous areas of myofascial pain and dysfunction throughout his body. After atlas realignment, the patient continued to require occasional MFTPT sessions with decreasing frequency while the other bony misalignments, secondary to atlas subluxation, shifted back into place and myofascial symmetry returned.” https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/treatments/manipulation/undiagnosed-atlas-subluxation-patient-pain-poor-myofascial-function

trying chiropractic care with fibromyalgia

This chiropractor explains the five parts of the “vertebral subluxation complex”:

“The vertebral bones themselves are in the wrong position to some degree. They are either misaligned, degenerating or not moving the right way.

Nerve impingement and dysfunction occur because of vertebral misalignment or malfunction. The nerve may be pinched, stretched awkwardly or otherwise irritated, which can cause referred pain and symptoms in other areas of the body controlled by the affected nerve(s).

The surrounding muscles that support proper spinal alignment are strained, knotted with trigger points, inflamed or out of shape so that they pull the spine out of alignment, or are unable to support correct posture.

Surrounding soft tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, fascia and other supporting players in the spine may also suffer inflammation or strain that can also negatively impact nerves and spinal alignment.

When all of these other conditions are present, biochemical changes also affect the body, causing inflammation and more pain in areas connected to the impacted nerves.”

My experience with chiropractic for fibromyalgia

My hope is that by releasing the stuck parts of my spine my body will be able to find homeostasis with much less pain.

The chiropractor recommended twice a week appointments for the first 10 weeks or so. We booked a check in appointment just before Christmas.

Each treatment involved gentle activating of the points that needed it the most. Usually the sacroiliac joints and my cervical spine. She also did some craniosacral work and finished with breathing to ensure the parasympathetic nervous system was switched on.

In the early treatments I felt it acutely. I felt pain immediately after and experienced lethargy and fatigue for the first 24 hours or so. My body began to tolerate it better after the second week.

At weeks three and four, I felt like it was going well. My body was holding the adjustments – particularly my sacroiliac joints. So my back pain was much lower. From 6-7/10 and being unable to sit down for long down to 3-4/10 and able to sit most places for some time.

I took a two week break while I was away in Singapore. Thankfully the adjustment held and my lower back was alright. My neck also did really well. The heat intolerance was another story.

My chiropractor said she thought I’d come back worse than I did, so that was a win.

I updated at week eight, as below.

Looking forward

I’m so pleased with the results. I’d say that chiropractic (the gentle side of their treatment) is now on my list of “must have” to survive. I can’t wait to see where I am at in six months time. With the neck and lower back calming down, the rest of my body is able to communicate. I can see that many other muscles are holding tension and need support. I can work through this.

I’d like to rebuild my muscle and strength which has been depleted over the endometriosis battle.

Whatever happens with my neck and back (and things are already happening), I’ll be grateful for the lower back situation. I was on a path for stronger and stronger meds and likely eventual “it’s just fibro, you deal with it”.

The moral of the story? It’s NOT all fibromyalgia and every new symptom is worth exploration.

chiropractic care for fibromyalgia

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