Millions of people may be affected by this injury that only very few would be able to name: diagnosing fibromyalgia (FM) can be tricky. Part of the reason for that is that its symptoms are seldom identified in combination with each other by those suffering from the condition and often shrugged off. Even when patients are looking for root causes in their chronic headaches or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), FM may not be on top of the list for suspected causes. Thankfully, treatment may be available.
To better understand FM, we want to take this opportunity to look at what causes the condition initially, what symptoms are most commonly associated with it, how it is diagnosed, and what treatment options there are.
What Causes Fibromyalgia (FM)?
For most people, symptoms of FM begin to show after a “trigger event.” This can be an accident, a surgery, an infection – anything that might affect and result in severe neck pain. FM can sometimes even be triggered by elevated stress levels or even a psychological event like losing a loved one. Whatever the case may be, the “trigger event” is then followed by an onset of various symptoms, most commonly musculoskeletal aches, fatigue, headaches, sleep, and memory issues.
However, since FM often runs within families, there is good reason to believe that the condition may also be inheritable genetically. So if one of your family members has been diagnosed with FM, make sure to speak to a chiropractor in Hickory right away. Another aspect that should be kept in mind is that FM affects more women than men.
So while the causes of FM are not entirely clear yet, most researchers and doctors connect the onset of FM to the brainstem. The brainstem is located in the weakest region of the human spine, right underneath the back of the head. The region is very vulnerable to injury, with potential tears of connective tissue, ligaments, and muscles that are responsible for head movements and a healthy posture. However, the brainstem’s influence extends into the spine and is a central element to the nervous system, connecting numerous nerves from the body to the brain. Damage or trauma to the brainstem might therefore cause long-term effects such as chronic fatigue syndrome.
What Are Common Symptoms of FM?
Symptoms of FM can be wide-ranging. Because it originates in events causing traumatic neck pain, initial symptoms will revolve around this area and may spread out onto the shoulders. But as the condition progresses, further symptoms will begin to show. This includes body-wide aches and sleep-related symptoms, which may include fatigue, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea. But not only might your nightly rest be affected. Other symptoms can include muscle stiffness, “brain fog,” irritable bowel syndrome, chronic headaches, anxiety, mood issues, and even depression. While all of those can be associated with FM, they may not necessarily be associated with it. It is therefore very important to diagnose the root causes for any one of these. However, if you experience any combination of these symptoms, you may also want to make sure to talk with your upper cervical chiropractor in Hickory.
How to Diagnose FM?
As previously mentioned, diagnosing FM can be difficult since a lot of the symptoms can also hint at other disorders, like chronic fatigue syndrome. It is therefore essential for any medical practitioner to eliminate any other options before diagnosing a patient with FM. There are a number of criteria that have to be met and that may indicate a positive FM diagnosis. Those are:
“Tender points” are areas in the body that feel sore when pressure is applied to them. They are a key element in diagnosing FM. Their location varies with every individual. There are 18 different areas in total, but those that are most frequently affected are joint areas like the back of the head, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees.
Upon diagnosing FM, a regular family doctor might recommend treatment with any mix of antidepressants, painkillers, anti-seizure medication, depending on the patient’s most significant symptoms. He may also suggest counseling, exercise programs, and relaxation techniques. While exercise and relaxation are recommended and will help your long-term health and wellbeing, prescribing medication often only presents short-term solutions. Even worse, painkillers can be very addictive, especially for long-term conditions like FM. Their prescription in those cases can therefore lead to substance abuse, which should obviously be avoided at any cost.
A fibromyalgia upper cervical chiropractor in Hickory presents an alternative treatment option. Using spinal alignments, a chiropractor in Hickory, NC can not only address your immediate areas of back pain but also help by realigning your spine, alleviating pressure on spinal nerves. An upper cervical correction addresses the core issue of FM by realigning the top two bones in your neck. Together with a healthy exercise regimen and active relaxation techniques, it can improve symptoms of FM significantly and presents not only a short-term fix but a long-term solution.
Contact Help Today
If you are suffering from various body aches or are looking to alleviate your pain, contact our office in Hickory today. Realigning your spine and alleviating certain nerves and your upper vertebrae can do wonders for your overall health. You may even want to consult a chiropractor for migraines in Hickory – the root cause may be FM. A professional can help you with your overall health and improve your life quality.