As many as 5 million people suffer from fibromyalgia (FM) according to the CDC. Most of these are dealing with chronic pain, depression, chronic fatigue, and a host of other symptoms. FM is one of the worst chronic health conditions. People suffering from FM feel like their lives have been stolen from them. Medical care is often based on targeting specific symptoms as doctors are unsure how to go about caring for the condition as a whole. This results in fibromyalgia patients being given a variety of different medications which only give temporary relief at best.
Fibromyalgia is a little-understood condition. Theories seem to indicate it is associated with a malfunction of the central nervous system. One thing contributing to the pain associated with this condition is called central sensitization.
Fibromyalgia and Central Sensitization — What’s the Connection?
First, let’s talk about what central sensitization is because it is not a term we normally hear in our everyday lives. It is a condition of the nervous system that develops and maintains chronic pain. When central sensitization happens, the nervous system goes through a particular process called wind-up. What this means is the body goes into a state of high reactivity. If you have fibromyalgia, your body goes into a highly reactive state and stays there for long periods of time.
You can think about how central sensitization happens when you get injured. Your body’s initial reaction is to wind up the pain receptors so you can remove yourself from whatever is causing you pain. However, imagine if those pain receptors stayed on all the time. Then every touch or bump would register as pain in your brain. This is exactly what happens with those suffering from fibromyalgia. Your brain is in a heightened sense of pain at all times. This can cause you to feel as if you are going crazy because you know that someone touching your arm should not produce the amount of pain you are feeling. However, the pain feels very real to you.
It has been noted that central sensitization can be due to things such as a stroke or a spinal cord injury but not in every case. Another thing that has been seen to contribute to this condition and FM is a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine. The C1 and C2 vertebrae were originally designed to act as a protection to the delicate brainstem and spinal cord. However, if you have suffered an accident of some sort — particularly a blow to the head or neck or overextending of the muscles in this area — you might have a misaligned vertebra. If this happens, stress is put on the brainstem, which is part of the central nervous system. When the brainstem is stressed, it can begin sending improper signals to the brain. The brainstem is the communication superhighway between the brain and the body. If it sends improper signals to the brain that there is pain, when actually there is little or no pain, fibromyalgia can be the end result.
This explains why that handful of medications you are ingesting every day is not providing proper relief. The root cause is not being addressed. By correcting the misalignment in the neck, the problem that is impacting the brainstem is removed.
Self-Care Tips to Improve Fibromyalgia
Along with caring for the misalignment in your neck, there are a few things you can do to help improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia and your overall health. These things can help reduce the impact of central sensitization.
- Work at having good posture. Good posture is one thing that can help keep your spine healthy and in proper alignment.
- Drink lots of water. Keeping your system flushed out and your joints properly lubricated by not getting dehydrated can really help.
- Eat a healthy diet. Yes, this is age-old advice, but that is because it works. We recommend a diet rich in eggs, seafood, protein, and, of course, fruits and vegetables. Be sure to keep your weight in a healthy range.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners.
- Exercise. While this may seem impossible if you are in pain, mild exercise has been seen to reduce the pain felt by FM sufferers. It keeps your muscles strong and helps with flexibility. It also can help you sleep better at night.
- Get some complementary therapy. Massage and acupuncture may be helpful when it comes to pain management. They will only help temporarily, however.
- Get a good night’s rest. Poor sleep goes hand in hand with FM, unfortunately. However, it is important to do all you can to get a good night’s rest. Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room. Try a warm bath before bed to relax your muscles. Get into a good sleep routine, sleeping and waking at the same time each day. Listen to some soothing music before bed.
Seeking Care from an Upper Cervical Chiropractor for Fibromyalgia
Numerous studies have proven the effectiveness of upper cervical chiropractic care. By visiting us here at the office of Dr. Corinne Weaver in Indian Trail, North Carolina, we may be able to help you see an improvement in your fibromyalgia symptoms. We begin by examining your neck for any tiny misalignments that are causing your pain. Then we use a method that is extremely gentle. We do not have to resort to popping or cracking the spine to see positive results. Rather, our technique is gentle and effective. This can lead to a reduction in the symptoms of fibromyalgia.