Is the pain of fibromyalgia getting you down? Are you having trouble dealing with persistent backaches, leg cramps, and foot pain? If so, then chiropractic care may be just the thing for you. Chiropractic care is becoming increasingly popular among fibromyalgia sufferers because of the pain and stress relief that it offers. It can often provide relief in short periods of time and help you to get back to enjoying life fast. This article will outline the basics of chiropractic care and help you to decide if it could be an effective treatment for you.
What is Chiropractic Care?
Though often termed an alternative treatment, chiropractic care is now becoming more accepted by the mainstream medical community. Almost 20% of American men and women have used the services of a chiropractor at some point in their lives. 80% of those who use chiropractors report significant pain relief, better functioning, and an increased sense of wellbeing. But what theories are chiropractic care based on and what exactly does a chiropractor do?
Chiropractic care is based on the theory that illness and pain are caused by misalignments in your skeletal structure. It sees the body as a connected system, which relies on your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to keep it functioning efficiently. When your skeletal structure is sound, your body should feel healthy and happy. But if parts of your skeleton are slightly off balance, it could cause serious problems, like chronic pain.
Chiropractors aim to solve pain and related symptoms by correcting the imbalances in your skeletal structure. Through a series of techniques, including stretches, adjustments, and manipulations, your chiropractor will restore your skeletal balance, thereby eliminating any pain symptoms.
Chiropractic Care and Fibromyalgia
Recently, fibromyalgia patients have been seeking chiropractic care increasingly often. Because fibromyalgia causes numerous tender points all over the body, many fibromyalgia patients suffer from back pain, neck pain, and leg cramps. In an attempt to solve these problems, many sufferers have looked to chiropractors. Because simple adjustments to the neck and spine can restore the carriage of the whole body, a lot of fibromyalgia sufferers find that alignments of the spine can significantly reduce pain all over their bodies.
Upper Cervical Spinal Stenosis
Many fibromyalgia patients suffer from a condition called upper cervical spinal stenosis. This causes the coverings of the upper spine, known as meninges, to become compressed. This can cause severe, debilitating pain all over the body. Chiropractors can adjust the head and neck so the spine is no longer compressed, helping to relieve the widespread pain symptoms of fibromyalgia.
How Effective is Chiropractic Care in Fibromyalgia Patients?
Numerous studies have been conducted analyzing the benefits of chiropractic care in fibromyalgia patients. A 1985 study asked 81 fibromyalgia patients to indicate drug or alternative treatments that best relieved their pain.
Chiropractic care treatment scored surprisingly high in this study. Another study examined the effectiveness of spinal manipulation in relieving fibromyalgia symptoms. After just 15 treatments, fibromyalgia patients suffered from less pain and fatigue, and actually enjoyed better sleep quality.
Types of Chiropractors
Though chiropractors often use many different techniques in their treatment programs, most fall into one of two main categories:
- “Straight” Chiropractors: Straight chiropractors are considered purists, as they adhere more strictly to the original teachings of chiropractic medicine. These practitioners tend to focus on performing manipulations to restore body function and relieve pain.
- “Mixers”: Mixers are chiropractors who combine techniques of manipulation and adjustment with other holistic techniques, including diet, exercise, and massage. The majority of chiropractors are mixers.
Depending upon the type of chiropractor you see, you will likely undergo a variety of different treatment techniques. The most popular chiropractic techniques is manipulation.
In order to adjust the spine and neck, a technique called manipulation is performed. Manipulation usually consists of a short, quick thrust to one of the vertebra in your spine, achieved through twisting, turning, or hand pressure. This causes the vertebra to shift back into its proper place.
When it is performed, you may hear a cracking or popping noise. This might sound scary, but it is actually a healthy release of built up oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide within the joint. As these gases are released, you should notice immediate relief, though sometimes manipulations can cause slight discomfort.
Manipulations can provide numerous benefits including:
- better range of motion in your joints
- increased blood flow (which helps to release toxins and promote muscle healing)
- increased production of endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers
- better pain tolerance
Side Effects of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors often come under fire from some medical doctors because of the possible dangers of chiropractic care. On rare occasions, manipulations have been known to cause internal bleeding and blood clots.
Manipulations are also associated with increased risk of bone fractures in those with degenerative diseases like osteoporosis. More worryingly, manipulations of the neck and spine have been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
It is recommended that you speak with a health care professional before engaging in any form of chiropractic therapy.
Choosing A Chiropractor
It can be very difficult to find a chiropractor that is right for you, especially if you are suffering from fibromyalgia.
Here are some tips to keep in mind before settling on a chiropractor:
- Be sure to find a chiropractor that is qualified. Chiropractors must be licensed by the state in which they practice. They should also have passed National Board exams Parts 1, 2, and 3.
- Ask friends, family members, and coworkers for recommendations
- Ask for references.
- Do a phone interview before making an appointment. Be sure to ask about the techniques that are performed and the theories that underlie them.
- Go to the office and check it out. It should be clean, welcoming, and professional.
- Avoid chiropractors that seem dogmatic about one particular school of thought.
- Avoid any chiropractor who promises to “cure” chronic ailments like fibromyalgia, diabetes, and arthritis.