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Fibromyalgia and the nervous system

Posted Oct 23 2008 5:50pm


It's still a little bit unusual to find traditional M.D.'s recommending chiropractic care. And some research being done in rheumatology which shows that fibromyalgia is group of symptoms related to "sympathetic hyperactivity" (explained below) hasn't yet led to widespread recommendation of chiropractic care as a step in moving towards resolving the physical component of this dis-ease. However, read below, and see how I believe they are directly connected.

Part 1: A research study

"We studied a group of patients with fibromyalgia and compared them with healthy controls. By means of portable recorders, we registered the subjects' heartbeat for 24 hours while they followed their routine daily activities. We found that patients with fibromyalgia have relentless hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system. This abnormality was also evident during sleeping hours. In a different study, we subjected patients with fibromyalgia to a simple stress test (to stand up). We observed a paradoxical derangement of the sympathetic nervous system response to the upright posture. Such findings have been confirmed by other groups of investigators.

The results of these studies suggest that a fundamental alteration of fibromyalgia is a disordered function of the autonomic nervous system. Patients with fibromyalgia lose the normal day/night cycles (circadian rhythms) and have a relentless sympathetic hyperactivity throughout 24 hours. This may explain the sleeping problems that the patients have. At the same time, such individuals have sympathetic hypo-reactivity to stress, which could explain the profound fatigue, morning stiffness and other complaints associated to low blood pressure. This autonomic nervous system dysfunction could induce other symptoms of fibromyalgia such as irritable bowel, urinary discomfort, limb numbness, anxiety and dryness of the eyes and mouth."


from Martinez-Lavin M, Hermosillo AG. Autonomic nervous system dysfunction may explain the multi-system features of fibromyalgia. Semin Arthritis Rheum 2000; 29: 197 (M.D. rheumatologist)

Part II Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system controls visceral structures (glands and organs of the body). It is sub-divided into the parasympathetic nervous system, and the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system ganglia are located most often near the spine, its roots lying in the thoracic and lumbar regions. The sympathetic part of the nervous system is the one which takes care of emergency responses. Flight or Fight. The "spending habits" of your sympathetic nervous system vary with your personality. If you are chronically angry, fearful, guilty etc., the chances are that your sympathetic nervous system is in chronic hyperalert.

Part III Chiropractic Care

I see a little chicken and egg conundrum. Is it your emotional body first (putting the nervous system on chronic high alert) or does a physical injury cause the sympathetic nervous system to work improperly, which leads to the focus on negative emotions? Ah, this is but one of the larger questions that I often explore in this blog through the works of Candace Pert, Bruce Lipton, and other scientists. But today, right now, does the question really matter? Your Chiropractor’s job is to relieve as much nerve impingement as possible by allowing the nervous system to freely transport nerve impulses. A really good chiropractor can be a valuable part of the mind-body approach to true healing. Rather than attempting to "mask" the symptoms with painkillers, there is a long term plan to correct "blockages" in the physical body which have temporarily turned off the mechanism it needs for self-healing. The physical body has an INNATE ability for self correcting, as long as the "wiring" is correct. So I conclude there is a linkage here between what the allopathically oriented researchers are finding out about some of the physical clues relating to fibromyalgia and good chiropractic care.

Here's a way to get those benefits without the sometimes uncomfortable experience of getting cracked and twisted!



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