Chiropractic Care and Fibromyalgia
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 well being. 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
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.
Fibromyalgia (FM) patients have been seeking chiropractic care increasingly often. Because
FM causes numerous tender points all over the body, many FM 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 FM sufferers find that alignments of the spine
can significantly reduce pain all over their bodies.
How Effective is Chiropractic Care in Fibromyalgia Patients?
Numerous studies have been conducted analyzing the benefits of chiropractic care in
FM patients. A 1985 study asked 81 FM 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
FM symptoms. After just 15 treatments, FM 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 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 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
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 FM. Here are some tips to keep in mind before settling on a
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
FM, diabetes, and arthritis.