You may have heard of Fibromyalgia or have been diagnosed with it yourself as it’s estimated that about 2% of adults in the U.S. alone live with this chronic pain condition. Fibromyalgia can greatly impact the overall function and quality of life for the individual who has been diagnosed with the condition, but luckily, manual therapies and complementary treatments can help in the management of symptoms. So what exactly is Fibromyalgia and how can manual therapy like chiropractic care help?
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a widespread chronic pain condition due to what current evidence suggests is abnormal pain processing. There is no known cause for the condition, but certain risk factors have been identified such as; age (commonly diagnosed in middle age) and having autoimmune disorders (lupus and rheumatoid arthritis specifically). There are other potential risks weakly correlated to the development of fibromyalgia such as; sex, family history, illness and/or injury and psychiatric concerns (PTSD, trauma).
Currently, fibromyalgia is diagnosed by your doctor using a combination of symptom complaints, bloodwork, physical exam and imaging. Treatments vary from medication to exercise to therapy (CBT) but treatment plans will depend on the individual.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia doesn’t just cause widespread pain, there are a whole host of other symptoms that come with the condition. These include:
- Pain and stiffness
- Numbness or tingling
- Mental health concerns such as depression, distress, anxiety.
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Sleep disturbance
- Brain fog
- Gastrointestinal complaints such as IBS symptoms.
These symptoms can be attributed to a variety of conditions, so it’s likely your doctor will work to rule out other conditions before settling on the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
How Can Chiropractic Care Help With Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
As with other chronic pain conditions and conditions impacting mobility, range of motions, etc. Chiropractic care can use a variety of techniques including manual adjustments and lifestyle/exercise recommendations to help the patient improve quality of life and overall function.
Adjustments & Manual Therapy
Studies have shown that chiropractic care and adjustments in patients with fibromyalgia can improve range of motion in the cervical and lumbar spine, lumbar spine/SI joint irritation and overall reported pain levels.
While special care may be taken when doing adjustments and manual therapies on someone with fibromyalgia due to their pain and any potential discomfort with levels of pressure and touch, adjustments and manual therapies are performed much the same as they are on patients without fibromyalgia. This includes spinal manipulation, upper cervical treatment, fascia work and stretches. If you have fibromyalgia and are seeking chiropractic care, ensure that your chiropractor is experienced and understanding in the specific treatment needs of those with fibromyalgia, like the practitioners at Kilian Chiropractic.
Lifestyle & Exercise Recommendations
Aerobic exercise, strengthening and stress management such as yoga and stretching are all considered a safe and effective part of a patient’s treatment plan for fibromyalgia. Your chiropractor will be able to provide you with recommendations for exercises, stretches and adjustments to your lifestyle (like ergonomics when sitting at your desk or modifying certain parts of your workouts) that are specific to your needs.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Fibromyalgia
There are a number of benefits to adding chiropractic care to your treatment plan for managing your symptoms of fibromyalgia.
There’s a wide body of evidence for chiropractic care’s role in pain management and that extends to pain management in those with fibromyalgia. Evidence suggests that chiropractic adjustments and manual therapies can improve a patient’s reported pain levels.
Improved Range of Motion
In addition to pain management, the same chiropractic treatments can help with range of motion, in particular, it’s been shown that chiropractic care can help increase the range of motion of the lumbar and cervical spine in patients with fibromyalgia. Range of motion is important as it plays a role in pain, can impact overall functioning and create further dysfunctions through compensation.
Better Quality of Life
One of the main goals for the management of fibromyalgia symptoms is increasing the quality of life. Chiropractic care in conjunction with other treatments such as exercise and relaxation can help restore quality of life and the ability for the patient to function day to day.
As a non-invasive treatment, chiropractic care works well with other recommended therapies and lifestyle changes for the management of chronic pain and fibromyalgia. As a natural treatment it does not interfere with medications prescribed for the symptoms of fibromyalgia, can work alongside physiotherapy and other manual therapies, and is complementary to exercise, stretches and other lifestyle changes.