The Role of Chiropractic Care in Improving Fibromyalgia Symptoms: Here is What You Should Know

An older woman with fibromyalgia pain speaking with a physical therapist

You feel fatigued. Everything hurts. Pain is consistent but elusive. Your joints and muscles ache often enough that you begin to feel lost and unmotivated. And yet, your doctor may point to no root cause, no definitive solution, no cure. People with fibromyalgia will often feel that there is no end in sight for their pain. And while scientists and the medical community continue to explore options and causes for fibromyalgia, there are therapeutic and non-invasive treatments like chiropractic intervention that have solid evidence of efficacy for the symptoms of this condition. The chiropractic approach is one of systemic healing through prescribed movement and spinal manipulation.  

Here’s what you need to know about the evidence, treatments, and approaches in chiropractic care for fibromyalgia. 

What is Fibromyalgia? A Painful Condition With No Identified Root Cause

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a commonly diagnosed condition in musculoskeletal medicine. Patients diagnosed with FMS often find themselves in an odd position. They suffer from pain and aches that affect their quality of life but are not always provided with a straight answer as to the source of that pain or where they can find relief. The latest research seems to suggest that the nervous system is at the center of the condition, more specifically the central nervous system. The American College of Rheumatology is clear on its definition that fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune, inflammation, joint, or muscle disorder.

According to the research, there are genetic factors that indicate a propensity for fibromyalgia, but that genes are not the leading factor for someone getting diagnosed. The literature shows that there is often a triggering factor that ignites the condition and that may range from spinal issues, injury, traumatic events, arthritis, or physical stress. 

Mayo Clinic defines possible contributing factors to:

  • Genetics
  • Infections
  • Major physical or emotional events
  • Sex
  • Family history 
  • Other disorders

The History of an Elusive Pain Condition 

It is perhaps not the most well-known of conditions, but fibromyalgia has been around for a long time. Going back to 1815, a Scottish surgeon named William Balfour was investigating the idea of tender points in the body and produced muscular rheumatism. The symptoms of what later became known as FMS were continuously studied into the 20th century when the title fibrositis was the preferred name. Early treatments included prescribed bed rest and placing electrodes on possible trigger points.

As the notion of pain was closely studied in the 20th century, a new way of thinking emerged for a lot of these conditions. Advancements in other areas of medicine in conjunction with returning soldiers who inadvertently became study subjects for developing medical interventions, it became clear that many conditions also had a psychological factor. Fibromyalgia might be in that category.

Current Treatments for Fibromyalgia 

Current interventions for this condition will include both pharmacological treatments and non-pharmacological treatments. The FDA has approved three drugs for the condition. Most of these drugs work by changing or affecting the brain chemistry involved in pain management.  However, many patients might seek additional or alternatives to these drug therapies, given potential side effects or because the drugs might not completely eliminate the symptoms. 

Finding Relief Through Chiropractic Interventions 

Chiropractic interventions have been a part of fibromyalgia treatment for a couple of decades. In the late 1990s, for example, pilot studies emerged observing the effectiveness of chiropractic management for the condition and assessing the efficacy of modalities such as spinal manipulation, soft tissue therapy, and stretching under the care of a chiropractor. 

These early studies indicate that patients under the care of a chiropractor showed improved range of motion, lowered pain levels, ability to perform leg raises and other exercises. Since then, chiropractic treatment has become a popular choice among fibromyalgia sufferers due to a high reported rate of improvement. It can be used both in conjunction with pharmacological interventions and as the sole form of treatment. 

How Chiropractic Care Can Help

In 2009, a systematic review of the data of chiropractic care and its effects on fibromyalgia showed that there is substantial evidence that non-pharmacological treatments have shown improvements. 

Chiropractic care offers a drug-free alternative for long-term recovery

While there is no miracle treatment for fibromyalgia, the work done in a chiropractic setting aims to help the person promote healing and overall relief. It does not mask symptoms. Rather, it aims to alleviate them over time. 

There is an overall improvement

One of the most difficult factors of dealing with fibromyalgia patients is that the pain appears to be all-encompassing. It does not focus on one area of the body; it is widespread. Chiropractic care focuses a lot on the spine and opening up the connections and lines of communications —so to speak— between the nerves and the central nervous system. Restoring these connections can help alleviate pain, promote better sleep and rest, and therefore achieve greater results. 

Chiropractic Care Can Be Beneficial For a Wide Range of Patients 

In addition to improved range of motion, here’s how chiropractic care can help:

  • Provides a drug-free alternative. Many patients worry or struggle with the side effects of some of the prescribed drugs. Chiropractic care is a drug-free intervention that does not require ingesting any drugs. 
  • The employment of other non-invasive treatments. A chiropractor can also balance out spinal manipulation approaches with treatments such as manual therapy, exercise regimens, nutritional guidance, etc. 
  • Improved quality of life. Patients with fibromyalgia often get weighed down by their symptoms. This begins to affect quality of life and the ability to participate in activities or perform work duties. Chiropractic care targets the individual needs to help people re-invigorate their lives and improve their ability to live productive and active lifestyles. 

Achieve Relief, Get Chiropractic Care for Fibromyalgia in El Paso

Pain is not a way of life. If you suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms or have been diagnosed, talk to your primary physician about the role of chiropractic care in your regimen. We are here to answer questions too. 

Call Southwest Chiropractic today and learn more. 

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