Fibromyalgia syndrome and its symptoms go back in medical literature to the days of Hippocrates (460-377 BC). The term fibromyalgia was first coined in 1976. The key diagnostic features of fibromyalgia are diffuse musculoskeletal pain for at least 3 months, stiffness that is worse in the morning, tenderness to touch in of at least 11 different spots. Patients with fibromyalgia must have pain in both the upper and lower parts of the body. The pain must also be on both the right and left side of the body. They must have certain areas of pain, such as, cervical spine, anterior chest, thoracic spine, lower back. Many individuals who suffer from this syndrome will also experience Gluteal (buttock) and knee pain.
There are many aggravating factors which affect fibromyalgia, such as excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety or stress, cold or humid weather, non-restorative sleep, physical or mental fatigue. There are also some palliative factors such as restful sleep, moderate activity, warm or dry weather and hot showers or baths.
The best approach to treatment for fibromyalgia is a multi-team approach with medical doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists and sometimes psychotherapists working together to help deal with the chronic pain issues of the syndrome.
Exercise, especially aerobic exercise has proven to help to control the symptoms and reduce the pain associated with Fibromyalgia. It is important for patients to plan their exercise program with their doctor. It is also important for them to follow through with exercise, even though usually it can increase symptoms in the beginning.
Chiropractic manipulations, which are performed gently such as flexion-distraction and Activator methods are ideal to provide a stretch to the soft tissues and helps the clinician to utilize less force when performing a spinal adjustment. These forms of adjustments are well tolerated by fibromyalgia patients.
Sources: Cox, James, “Low Back Pain, Mechanisms, Diagnosis and Treatment”, Williams & Wilkens, 1999.