What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is predominantly seen in females aged twenty to fifty. Whereas rheumatic arthritis is pain throughout the joints in the body, fibromyalgia (also known as fibrositis) is diffuse musculoskeletal pain. This pain may arise from structures outside the joints such as bones, bursae, tendons, ligaments, nerves and muscles. It is not a progressive crippling disease, nor is it a psychogenic condition. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include muscle pain, fatigue, stiffness, numbness, weakness, tingling, swelling, poor sleep, heat or cold sensitivity, joint pain, and tension.
How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
There are several criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia. If fibromyalgia is suspected, a specific examination will be given focusing on certain tender points at the base of the skull, the lower neck muscles, the trapezius muscles, in between the ribs, the elbows, the shoulders, the gluteus medius, the hips, and the knees. To make an accurate diagnoses of fibromyalgia, eleven of 18 triggerpoints must be present. This widespread pain must have been present for at least three to four months and the pain in three out of four of the body’s quadrants. Weather changes and stress often aggravate this pain. Disturbed sleep with morning fatigue and stiffness is another indicator. All possibilities of other systemic conditions that would account for the symptoms must be ruled out. Sometimes there may be minor numbness, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome. X-ray and laboratory testing will usually appear normal. Ultimately, a detailed medical history as well as specific testing will reveal whether or not the patient suffers from fibromyalgia.
How Can Fibromyalgia Be Helped?
No single treatment can “cure” fibromyalgia. There are however, several different facets to consider when seeking to treat this condition. There may be immunological abnormalities or some type of chemical exposure which have weakened the body. Many times there are changes in the neuro transmitters which effect a patient’s pain perception. There may also be hormonal or gastrointestinal problems. Often, nutrition is a factor in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Dietary supplements such as magnesium, thiamin and others, may help to alleviate some of the symptoms. Since many times, such diffuse, ongoing pain tends to wear on a person, counseling for depression and becoming part of an encouraging support group may be recommended as well.
Chiropractic care including nutritional support and a specially designed exercise program is very beneficial in the treatment and control of fibromyalgia. It is however, essential to do the correct type and amount of exercise. These exercises can include range of motion, stretching, breathing and relaxing techniques and lead into low impact aerobic exercise such as swimming, biking, walking, or water aerobics. Dr. Bresnahan will evaluate your symptoms and develop a program specifically for your particular problems. The things that work for one fibromyalgia sufferer may not work for another and it is important that you and your chiropractor come up with a plan that works for you. Gentle manipulation of the joints and surrounding soft tissue is very effective in relieving pain and restoring proper body mechanics that will in turn lessen the stress on all joints and muscles involved. We can also help you to review and modify your daily activities and work station to help alleviate any unnecessary tension in the body.