Let’s begin by discussing exactly what fibromyalgia is. Fibromyalgia is the most common musculoskeletal condition aside from osteoarthritis. It is a long-term, chronic condition associated with widespread pain in the bones and muscles, extreme exhaustion, and areas of tenderness. Since these symptoms cannot be determined by tests, fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed as another illness, causing some doctors to question whether the disease really exists. Although it is becoming more widely recognized, sadly, some do not recognize FM as real. This can cause patients to become depressed because they are finding no answers.
Because researchers are coming closer to understanding fibromyalgia, the stigma that envelops it is becoming smaller and smaller. Some doctors fear a few patients will use this undetectable pain to seek out pain medication for personal use, leading many doctors to begin endorsing lifestyle changes instead of medication to care for FM. The more doctors recognize this as a real condition, the more likely researchers will work harder to find an effective way to help sufferers.
Fibromyalgia is known to cause areas of tenderness called trigger points. These are 18 spots on the body that become painful even when light pressure is applied. At one time, this was the basis for diagnosing fibromyalgia. However, it was realized that not everyone feels pain in these areas every day. Today, doctors use these to narrow down their list of possible diagnoses. Patients describe the pain associated with these pressure points as a constant dull ache. If this lasts for longer than 3 months, you probably have FM. The areas of trigger points are:
- Outer elbows
- Back of the head
- Upper chest
- Tops of the shoulders
Other symptoms include:
- Problems getting a good night’s rest
- Extreme exhaustion
- Sleeping a lot without feeling rested
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Poor concentration and focus
- Fibro fog
The Causes of Fibromyalgia
The exact cause of fibromyalgia remains a mystery to those in the medical community and among researchers. However, there are some factors that contribute to this condition that are now being agreed upon. They are:
- Genetics: If you have a family member with FM, your chances of getting it are much higher.
- Infections: Previous sickness may make FM worse or even trigger it in some people.
- Stress: Stress creates far-reaching effects in your body that you may have to deal with for months or even years. Stress is linked to hormonal imbalances that contribute to FM.
- Trauma: If you have experienced severe emotional or physical trauma, you may be at risk to develop FM as it has been linked to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
It isn’t really understood why people experience widespread pain while suffering from fibromyalgia. Some theories exist, such as:
- The brain lowers the pain threshold for some reason
- The nerves and receptors in the body are more sensitive to stimulation.
- A misalignment in the neck may cause some serious issues throughout the body.
Caring for Fibromyalgia: Is Prednisone the Answer?
Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory drug that is often prescribed in order to help with fibromyalgia. While it is known to reduce inflammation and may help you feel better, it comes with a huge list of serious side effects. For one to consider taking this drug, it is important to be well educated before deciding. Here is list of possible side effects from taking Prednisone:
- Black or tarry stools or diarrhea
- Blotches under the skin that look red or purple
- Bulging eyes
- Changes in hair growth
- Decreased sex drive
- Irregular menstruation
- Increased or loss of appetite
- Increased sweating
- Puffy face
- Personality changes
- Problems falling asleep and staying asleep
- Thin skin
- Slow healing of cuts and bruises
An additional side effect to be very cautious of is adrenal fatigue. This can occur with long-term use of this drug. The adrenal glands may stop working, and this is very serious. Doctors usually recommend taking a break from using prednisone to allow the body to recover. But they will want you to go back on this drug as soon as possible. If the body is not allowed a break and a recovery period, adrenal crisis may occur. This can cause you to have nausea, vomiting, and go into shock. After educating yourself on these dangerous side effects, you may be wondering if there is an alternative to taking any medication. Thankfully, the answer is yes!
Natural, Safe Care for Fibromyalgia
As mentioned in our list of possible theories about why fibromyalgia happens, one that has been proven is that of a misalignment in the bones of the upper neck. In order to understand how this contributes to fibromyalgia, you must understand how the body and brain work together. The bones of the neck, in particular the C1 and C2 vertebrae, are responsible for protecting the delicate brainstem. The brainstem acts as the communication highway between the brain and the body.
However, the bones protecting it are susceptible to misaligning due to the way they are positioned and their unique shape. It only takes a minor blow to the head or overextending of the muscles to cause these bones to misalign. When this happens, rather than protecting the brainstem, they put it under stress and cause it to send improper signals to the brain. If the brain gets signals about pain in the body when there is no pain, fibromyalgia can be the end result.
Here at The Upper Cervical Spine Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, we employ a gentle method to help these bones to realign without popping or cracking the spine. Once corrected, the body can begin to heal itself and fibromyalgia has been seen to get better in many patients. Some see it go away and not return.