Understanding Fibromyalgia and Your Care Options


Worldwide, fibromyalgia affects up to 5% of the population and about 15 million people in the United States alone. Fibromyalgia is not a disease in the sense that it has a known viral or bacterial cause. Rather, it is a collection of symptoms, mostly pain, that affect the neuromusculoskeletal system. Since other types of diseases can cause widespread pain, these need to ruled out before a fibromyalgia diagnosis is made. In addition to pain, fibromyalgia sufferers may experience sleep deprivation (including lack of restorative sleep), general fatigue, and even depression. They may also have difficulties with concentration and even memory loss. Up to 40% of fibromyalgia patients are thought to have a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety.


In terms of medical treatment options, there are antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain or narcotic medications. When the fibromyalgia patient considers these or any treatments, he or she should consult with their doctor as to whether the risks associated with such approaches are outweighed by any potential benefits.


Many patents do not consider non-drug treatments such as exercise and chiropractic care, but these less-invasive treatments are an important option.


Fibromyalgia patients with central (spine) pain may respond well to spinal manipulation and other forms of care offered at chiropractic clinics.


Though is seems counterintuitive, for patients with muscle pain, simply avoiding movement may worsen their condition. In fact, aerobic exercise (as well as strength training) can dramatically reduce muscle pain. Many patients also find their mood is elevated when exercise becomes a part of the daily routine. Additionally, sleep may also be more restorative when you use your body more intensely during the day.


Lastly, weight-loss and proper nutrition are essential elements to overall good health. The important thing to consider is a multifactorial approach, which addresses your weight and nutritional habits, structure, lifestyle, and spinal hygiene. No one thing will be the magical “silver bullet” for fibromyalgia but a more comprehensive approach focused on the whole patient may result in a better outcome.

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