Fibromyalgia affects up to 4 million Americans age 18 and older. While the condition is commonly diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 35 and 45 years old, the majority of fibromyalgia sufferers experienced chronic pain and other symptoms far earlier in life than when they were actually diagnosed. The most well-known symptoms of fibromyalgia are long-term diffuse pain, extreme tiredness, cognitive or memory problems (“fibro fog”), headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression or anxiety.
Possibly one of the most misunderstood conditions, there is much to learn about fibromyalgia. Below is a list of 5 of the more common misconceptions about this condition:
- “It’s all in your head.” Perhaps the top misconception when it comes to understanding fibromyalgia is the belief that it is not a real medical condition. While current research has revealed much about the condition, there are still people who do not consider fibromyalgia a legitimate medical concern. One description of fibromyalgia is that people who have it do not experience pain the same way as those without it. Their brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) processes pain signals abnormally, which means that it is an actual, physiological problem.
- Only women develop fibromyalgia. Women have a much higher likelihood of developing fibromyalgia than men, but it is still a risk for men as well. Women compose about 75-90% of fibromyalgia sufferers. While the recorded number of men may not be as high as that of women, that number may be complicated by the fact that men may be less likely to report their pain, which would mean the number of undiagnosed men may be higher than is documented.
- Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are the same thing. The fatigue associated with fibromyalgia is extreme, but it is not the same experience as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The most telling difference between the two conditions is that people with CFS do not suffer from pain like those with fibromyalgia
- Fibromyalgia sufferers should avoid exercise. This not true at all. In fact, those suffering from fibromyalgia would do well to do some gentle exercise. It is true that movement can worsen the pain that fibromyalgia sufferers experience, but avoiding movement won’t actually bring relief. On the contrary, doing gentle movements can help with loosening achy joints and muscles. Just remember to start slowly and gradually work up to a daily routine in order to manage pain.
- There are no effective treatment options for fibromyalgia, so I just have to deal with it. The more we learn about fibromyalgia, the more improved treatment options for the condition are becoming available. Incorporating relaxation techniques in your daily routine can have surprising benefits for those suffering from fibromyalgia. Some options that are out there are meditation and deep breathing techniques, yoga and other kinds of gentle exercise like walking, and maintaining healthy sleep habits are all very helpful when managing day-to-day pain and fatigue. There are also a number of medications that can bring short-term symptomatic relief. Another alternative that is both natural and has been seeing much success for many fibromyalgia sufferers is upper cervical chiropractic care. This form of treatment focuses on problem areas where there has been a compromise within the central nervous system that may be causing interference with normal pain processing.
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and fibromyalgia download our complimentary e-book Simple and Extremely Effective Ways to End Fibromyalgia Symptoms without Drugs by clicking the image below.
Learning More About Pain Processing
A main characteristic of fibromyalgia is that the person experiences a higher-than-normal sensitivity to pain. This means that something that is usually perceived as a non-painful stimulus (such as touching a smooth counter top) is experienced as extremely painful by someone with fibromyalgia. The body’s central nervous system (CNS) has the role of processing pain, and the system is comprised of your brain and spinal cord. In situations where your body comes into contact with something that causes pain, like a hot stove or stubbing your toe on a hard, wooden table leg, the body part that has been impacted will transmit that signal to the central nervous system to be received by the brain. As soon as the brain processes the message, then you are able to respond accordingly to the degree of pain that was processed, like quickly pulling your hand away from the hot stove.
Any time there is a problem with the central nervous system, it can cause the sending of improper pain signals and interrupt the proper communication between brain and body. What would cause a disruption to the central nervous system like this? If the upper two vertebrae of the spine are shifted out of alignment (the brainstem is located within these specific bones), it can put unusual pressure on the brainstem and affect the function of the CNS. The name of these two bones are the atlas and axis, and because of their vital role in protecting the brainstem, they can have major impacts on the CNS. The brainstem acts as a relay station for pain signals. A misalignment of the atlas can change the way that your body perceives and senses pain.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Addresses the Root Cause
Upper cervical chiropractic care doesn’t look to temporary solutions for your pain. Instead it focuses on getting to the root cause of fibromyalgia by improving CNS function. The way this is done is by precisely designed and administered adjustments to the atlas vertebra. When an atlas misalignment is hindering normal pain signal processing, it needs to be corrected so that the body can heal itself. Upper cervical chiropractic care is unique because our adjustments are specifically tailored to each individual’s needs and only given when necessary. This is how we are able to provide long-lasting corrections that lead to a lasting resolution of symptoms.
This is not a common approach for most fibromyalgia patients because the upper cervical specialization is not widely known, but it has been proven to help many suffering people. Correcting an underlying issue like an atlas misalignment can start the process of restoring your body’s natural ability to function and process pain normally again. This could mean more energy, better sleep, less pain, and an overall improvement in your quality of life.
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