Persistent body aches? Get tested. Strike off all likely causes of pain other than fibromyalgia (FM). If you have FM, your best bet is to consult a health professional. A chiropractor is your best bet. Treatment with drugs, cognitive behavioral therapies, exercise, and techniques like mobilization, massages, and spinal manipulation offer substantial relief. Eat healthy, de-stress, and sleep well.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a very common condition affecting approximately 10 million Americans (2-4% of the population), with a ratio of about four women to one man. Part of the diagnosis and treatment challenge is that many of the complaints associated with FM occur in ALL of us at some point, such as fatigue, generalized whole body aches/pains, non-restorative sleep, depression, and anxiety.
So what is the difference between FM sufferers and those without it? Let’s take a look!
What Is It?
The primary distinction between patients with FM and the “rest of us” has to do with the word chronic, which means “persisting for a long time or constantly recurring; long-standing, long-term.”
In fact, the term fibromyalgia is described as a complex chronic pain disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness that may be present body wide or migrate around the body. It is also known to “wax and wane over time,” meaning it flares up and down, off and on.
How To Diagnose It?
The diagnosis of FM is typically made by eliminating every other possible cause. Hence, after blood tests and x-ray or other imaging, the ABSENCE of other problems helps nail down the diagnosis of primary fibromyalgia.
Then there is secondary fibromyalgia, which is DUE TO a known disorder or condition such as after trauma (like a car accident), rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headache, irritable bowel syndrome, GERD (heartburn due to reflux), pelvic pain, overactive bladder, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (jaw pain, with or without ringing in the ears), or stress.
It’s also often accompanied by anxiety, depression, and/or some other mental health condition.
Does It Have A Cure?
It should be clearly understood that there is no “cure” for fibromyalgia. It has also been widely reported in many studies that the BEST management approach for FM is through a team of healthcare providers. This team is frequently made up of primary care doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, mental/behavioral specialists, physical therapists, and perhaps others (acupuncturist, nutritionist, stress management specialists, and more).
How To Treat It?
The “general” treatment approach typically has medication, cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT), gentle exercise, and manual therapies. In addition, patients are encouraged to participate in the healing process via self-management strategies that focus on reducing stress and fatigue, optimizing diet, and developing a consistent sleep habit.
Can Chiropractors Help?
Think of the role of the chiropractor as a strong member of the team. Chiropractors can offer many of the known methods of managing fibromyalgia described above, as their training includes diet and nutrition, stress management, exercise training, and ability to provide “whole person care.”
Treatments delivered in the chiropractic setting, like spinal manipulation, mobilization, and massage, offer GREAT relief to FM patients! Again, coordinating care between various providers is the best approach, but you need someone willing and able to do that. A chiropractor is a great choice!
Can I Manage It By Myself?
It is very difficult to manage fibromyalgia on your own. Let a chiropractor tailor a treatment plan that is appealing to you and your specific interests. Managing FM is definitely NOT a “one size fits all” approach like an inhaler is for asthma. Each individual’s situation is unique!