A conundrum. The word refers to the apparent, physical complaints of pain in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles. This diagnosis arose early in my career in the 1980’s. We didn’t know much about it then, and many physicians thought disparagingly of patients who complained. These patients would report diffuse pain all over their body, without any discernible, diagnosable lesion. They also had a host of other accompanying symptoms, including poor sleep, that we didn’t understand.
Forty years later we have a conceptual model of the syndrome, and its contributors, in a very general sense, but still no thorough understanding of its pathogenesis in a specific person. But, at least, doctors are now more sympathetic to its reality.
It should be noted, that fibromyalgia can co-exist with diagnosable spinal problems that can, and should, be investigated, diagnosed, and treated.
When I encounter fibromyalgia patients these days, they are usually seeking help for other, co-existing problems, and they don’t expect anyone to resolve their fibromyalgia. That separation of problems is important to do, so that both the patient and the doctor know what are the expectations for improvement from the non-fibromyalgia component of their pain.
Usually, these patients have read a lot about fibromyalgia, are very knowledgeable about it, manage their symptoms reasonably effectively, and have realistic expectations for the treatment of co-existing, musculoskeletal pain of other origins.
Forty years ago, fibromyalgia could cause a rift between patients and doctors, because patients found no help from doctors, and doctors were frustrated by patients who they thought had psychological problems, manifesting psychosomatically.
Research continues to find clues about fibromyalgia, but understanding correlates and causation remains a mystery. One recent finding is that the neurons in the brains of such patients are different. But what does that mean? We don’t know.
What Is Chiropractic Care, And How Does It Work?
For fibromyalgia, chiropractic care can help with some component of the patient’s pain; the degree of improvement remains to be seen. The chiropractic treatment can consist of many different types of therapies, modalities, and treatments. For each patient I am experimenting with safe treatments that have the potential to help, with little potential to harm.
In my clinical experience, I have found spinal decompression treatment to be the most helpful, and the quickest to help patients improve from their pains.
Most patients know that chiropractors commonly treat patients with adjustments, i.e. manipulation of their joints. I don’t typically do this for patients with fibromyalgia, and treatment techniques vary among chiropractors, and for the various patients chiropractors treat.
I get people improved very fast, or I figure out who else may help them, and make a referral. That is because the treatment I use is more effective, faster, for most patients.
Can A Chiropractor Help Fibromyalgia?
Sometimes, Yes. Fibromyalgia is so diffuse and broad a problem, that it can confound other, very treatable problems like disc bulges and herniations, and referred pain from discs, joints and nerves.
For each patient that I see, I do a brief trial of treatment for their neck and back, if they have pain there, and we see what improves and what does not. Most patients will have some benefit of their pains, and what remains are probably their fibromyalgia symptoms. The only way to tease out the difference is to provide treatment that can improve the non-fibromyalia components of their pain, and see what remains. For most of my patients I have been able to provide some help with their pain, and they are grateful for that much relief.
Generally, when diagnoses are difficult to ascertain or comprehend entirely, a trial of conservative treatment is reasonable because it has a high potential for some relief, and low risk to make worse, or cost much money.
How Chiropractic Care Treats Fibromyalgia?
There are many medical disorders that we still don’t understand, and don’t treat effectively. Fibromyalgia, like the others, often prompts patients to seek alternative medical treatments.
Among these alternative medicine providers, there may be some who have found more effective treatments, and who think they have some unique insights to the cause, and effective treatments. There are probably anecdotal, and reasonably safe treatments you can try to see if they seem to work for you. I don’t discourage people from trying any safe alternative to help such problems.
Generally, for any difficult medical problem without answers, I recommend optimizing all you can about your lifestyle, and then see what happens. Optimizing means, all the foundational, factors we all know about. That includes diet, sleep, exercise, stress, light, sunshine, love, and more.
Fibromyalgia Chiropractic Treatment Techniques
I don’t treat fibromyalgia, per se, but I do treat patients who have pain, including fibromyalgia. Since it is usually not possible to determine if, what, and how I might help patients with fibromyalgia, I tell patients that I will administer treatment that I think will help their pain, and that I think some of their pain is not fibromyalgia. If I am correct, they will quickly realize some improvement in their pain- sometimes a lot of improvement. Then they can decide how much it helps and how much is worth doing.
I am not promising to resolve their pain, only trying to improve their pain, and they can decide how much value it has to their overall pain picture. Most patients will get some quick improvement and then see me for treatment whenever they think it will benefit them.
Types of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia symptoms can vary in predominance in individuals, and some of the medical literature describes “sub-groups” of patients with such varying symptoms. These include problems with diffuse pain, poor sleep, depression, fatigue, and gastrointestinal complaints.
Common Fibromyalgia Symptoms
The common symptoms include combinations of pains all over the body, pain to the touch of particular areas of the body, poor sleep, fatigue, depression, gastrointestinal complaints, and more. These complaints often co-exist with other, more normal pains of the neck or back. These latter problems I can help, and most fibromyalgia patients find some treatment well worth it, even though they may continue to have some of their fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain.
What Is The Main Cause Of Fibromyalgia?
This remains a mystery, but now, at least, doctors acknowledge it is not a psychological disorder. So, at least, patients don’t feel insulted by the doctors who remain, largely feckless, to treat it effectively. When I started practice in 1987 this diagnosis was not yet articulated. We began to speak of it, and define objective criteria for its diagnosis in the 1990’s, but patients who complained of this nebulous diagnosis were largely thought to be psychologically disturbed, and it was impossible to know which came first; the physical symptoms, which caused the psychological component, or the other way around. Even today, some doctors grudgingly accept the diagnosis, but suspect a large psychological origin.
It is often the case in medicine that when a frustrating problem is encountered, that the patient is stigmatized. I’ve seen this many a time, and sometimes the doctor is correct. Dr. John Sarno, a physical medicine specialist, specialized in identifying and treating the psychological origins of psychosomatic pain in his patients, but he did not discredit patients who had this problem. Instead, he explained it to them, and effectively, and compassionately, treated patients for it. This is another approach to fibromyalgia cause, and treatment, that should be considered.
What Are The Potential Benefits Of Chiropractic Care For Fibromyalgia Patients?
I tell patients that I don’t expect to resolve their fibromyalgia, but I can usually help them improve some of their pain by treating their neck and back. Most patients will experience some improvement of their musculoskeletal pains, but they will not have resolution of their pains.
Since fibromyalgia diagnosis is not an exact science, it is advisable to try some chiropractic treatment to see how much it might help. This should not take much time to determine. I think improvement should be noted in two weeks. If a patient with Fibromyaligia notes 25-50% improvement, they may deem that very worthwhile.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you see a chiropractor if you have Fibromyalgia?
Most patients with fibromyalgia have learned that no one is going to resolve their symptoms entirely, but many can find some relief from chiropractic care. And for many patients that relief is worth some of their time and money. So I think a trial of chiropractic treatment is worth it for many patients. Like so many things in musculoskeletal medicine, you have to try it to find out how much it may benefit you. I have treated many patients with fibromyalgia with the mutual understanding that we are going to see how much I can help them, and they can then determine how often to use the treatment. And for most patients, some component of their pain and symptoms is amenable to improvement from chiropractic treatment.
Can chiropractic make Fibromyalgia worse?
Patients with fibromyalgia have symptoms that wax and wane, so this can confound both doctor and patient in terms of assessing the patient’s response to treatment, but, usually, with a little time, you’ll be able to tell if chiropractic treatment is helping with any components of your pain. In this context I will mention palliative vs. therapeutic treatment. Fibromyalgia patients may find that certain treatments only help temporarily, i.e. they are palliative, and not long-lasting, i.e. therapeutic. In this circumstance, it will be up to the patient to determine if such treatment is worth their time and money. This is also why physical therapists will often teach patients how to manage their problems themselves; because patients may have to self-treat their symptoms on an ongoing basis with palliative methods, because no therapeutic treatment exists.
It is unlikely that chiropractic treatment will make fibromyalgia symptoms worse.
Is chiropractic care a long-term solution for Fibromyalgia, or is it mainly for symptom management?
This has to be determined empirically. Many fibromyalgia patients will have co-existing problems that can be helped by chiropractic treatment, and resolving these problems can reduce the overall “pain load” on the patient. So this is worth determining and resolving. I would explain that we are not going to resolve the fibromyalgia component of their pain, but other musculoskeletal problems that are contributing to their pain, and which can be resolved, should help to improve their overall pain. But this all has to be determined with evaluation, diagnosis, and a trial of treatment.
Are there any risks or side effects associated with chiropractic care for fibromyalgia?
Their are always some potential risks with any treatment, but chiropractic is a very safe treatment relative to many other treatments. This is reflected in the very low insurance premiums that chiropractors pay for malpractice insurance.
And fibromyalgia patients are not fragile. The risk of injury or harming a fibromyalgia patient, or any other patient is very low.
Lastly, it should be stated that sometimes pain symptoms can be exacerbated when treating any patient with musculoskeletal pain. But an exacerbation of pain symptoms, on a short-term basis, during the course of treatment, does not equate to a material worsening of the pathology causing the pain. So there is no need to be unduly anxious about such an occurrence.
Should I consult my primary care physician before seeking chiropractic care for Fibromyalgia?
Chiropractors are trained, and licensed, to be a direct provider, meaning you do not need a referral from your primary care physician to see a chiropractor. If, however, you want to do so, and have a discussion with your primary care physician, and, perhaps, ask if they have any recommendation, that’s not a bad idea. Some primary care physicians will recommend a particular chiropractor. Some will recommend a physical therapist, instead. And some will not recommend a chiropractor under any circumstance. Some primary care physicians don’t know any chiropractors, or anything about chiropractic treatment.
Choose Backstrong Non Surgical Rehab Clinic For Best Chiropractor in Decatur GA
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Backstrong Non Surgical Rehab Clinic.
2771 Lawrenceville Hwy #101, Decatur, GA 30033,
Contact Number: 404-558-4015
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Dr. Craig Castanet D.C. is a chiropractor specialist & Founder of Backstrong Non-Surgical Rehab Clinic. Our office is located at 2771 Lawrenceville Hwy #101, Decatur, GA 30033. For the last 35+ years he has participated in the treatment of more than 40,000 patients, in orthopedics, physical medicine, physical therapy, and neurosurgical clinics. If you live in the Decatur, Ga area and have neck or back problems, you owe it to yourself to see us for your problem. If you have any question about chiropractic care & Treatment. You can use our contact page or social media profile anytime & we will communicate with you soon.