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What is Fibromyalgia?

The name Fibromyalgia is in fact a misnomer. Originally it was thought to describe fibrous deposits in the muscles, causing pain. The only truth to this is that some patients have muscle spasms so severe that they become fibrous. This adds to the problem but has nothing to do with the cause of Fibromyalgia.

In the past FMS patients have been called hypochondriacs, and many times were referred to psychiatrists. And it was not uncommon for sufferers to be institutionalized. Only recently has this disorder gained recognition as a condition that deserves attention. In general patients are receiving more respect today and are believed when they say they have a problem. Yet they may still be looked upon as drug addicts, or presumed to have a self-serving motive, when all they really need is someone to believe them and get them help.

So Fibromyalgia is still a very poorly understood disorder. Typically diagnosed by the presence of eleven or more of eighteen specific "tender/trigger Points," it is characterized by widespread pain and tenderness, and is frequently associated with nervousness, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, depression, and insomnia. In addition to this we often find chemical sensitivities, allergies, Restless Leg Syndrome, cold or burning hands and feet, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is an abbreviated list, for the manifestations seem to be endless.

Some authorities believe that 4% of women and 1.5% of men in America have Fibromyalgia. The NFA (National Fibromyalgia Association) gives a conservative estimate of six million sufferers. Women are far more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men. This may be because they are built with smaller bones and therefore have smaller tolerances in the areas that cause Fibromyalgia. This leaves them much more susceptible. In addition they participate in all of the same sports and drive all of the same motor vehicles as men, and are subject to the same traumas. Logically, then, in any accident they would be likely to experience more severe damage to the skeletal structure.

Fibromyalgia is different from most diseases in that it takes away the individual's ability to fight. After years of fatigue, depression, and pain-not being able to focus on anything but poor health and pain, and just trying to get through the day-the patient becomes discouraged and the spirit weakens. Family members, too, become worn out with the disease and may abandon their stricken loved one. This is devastating to an already distraught victim of this insidious predator. Current research offers little hope and only brings more discouragement.

Afflicted, abandoned, alone, these sufferers resign themselves to living with this new destructive life partner, often in dark bedrooms, separating themselves from others, to live out long, lonely days without rest or comfort. Some cannot endure this suffering and take their own lives. [See section on suicide.]

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Symptoms may vary from person to person. They may also be less severe in a milder case of Fibromyalgia. Including the whole galaxy of symptoms would be impractical, because the nervous system controls the entire body and can affect all the systems. Here, then, is a partial list:

  • Insomnia: Insomnia is particularly troubling in almost all Fibromyalgia patients. It becomes worse in relation to the degree of pressure on the Menengies. (See "Cause and Effects of Fibromyalgia.") The anxiety, the pain, the overactive central nervous system, and adrenaline overproduction make sleep almost impossible.
  • Fatigue: Fatigue naturally goes along with insomnia, but it is a level of fatigue that goes well beyond what would be expected with ordinary insomnia, and it has a much deeper impact.
  • Emotional instability, depression, irritability, and nervousness: These Fibromyalgia symptoms are often the most difficult to deal with, since they affect the very core of the being and destroy joy and enthusiasm. Life becomes miserable for the sufferer as well as for those around him.
  • Mild to severe body pain: This can vary from headaches; pressure at the base of the skull; neck pain; arm pains or numbness; torso pain; hip, thigh, and leg pain; or numbness and facial pains. Some of our patients have entire body pain. Often this will be worse in the morning and evening.
  • Headaches: Usually there is pressure at the base of the skull, and there is sometimes associated pain in the occipital (back side of the skull) and upper cervical spine (neck). Many patients have severe, migraine-type headaches. FMS headaches may vary in location and intensity. We have seen almost every possible combination-unilateral, bilateral, facial, occipital, mild, severe, -sometimes accompanied with vomiting.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: This is present in most sufferers, and is caused by the sympathetic nervous system firing constantly, preventing the parasympathetic nervous system from controlling digestion. The sympathetic nervous system is meant to help us run or fight in emergencies. Its constant firing increases adrenaline production and brings with it a feeling of forthcoming destruction. The parasympathetic system works well when we are relaxed, and controls things like food digestion and normal, relaxed bodily functions.
  • Rashes: Some Fibromyalgia patients will develop rashes on their legs, arms, face, back, or other areas. They are common and almost always go away with the treatment.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: Observations suggest that the tugging on the trigeminal nerve as it exits through the menengies can trigger this symptom. Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by facial pain, often lancing-usually severe, though it can be mild. The patients we have seen with this condition have typically gone into remission.
  • Calcium deposits under the skin: These are common, usually under pea size, but we have seen them much larger. They can be very painful and even cause bleeding with movement.
  • Communication problems: These are common. Fibromyalgia can cause severe nerve signal congestion, much like a computer with too much to do. Many of the patients we see are unable to answer my questions or keep on the subject. This lack of focus usually abates in the first two weeks of treatment.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety is often one of the most severe problems. Many patients don't even realize they have anxiety until it is pointed out. It is brought on by the sympathetic nervous system firing continuously. It will push one, even though he may be totally exhausted, and keep him going somewhat; but it is this anxiety that also prevents sleep and rest. Panic attacks-feelings of a need to protect oneself or to run away-are common. When anxiety disappears, our patients become very tired and restorative sleep follows. This is when we see leaps in their improvement.

All of the glands of the body can be affected, i.e.: the pituitary, the thyroid, the adrenals, the reproductive glands, the pancreas, etc. These glands being off can create a host of physical problems as well as mental and emotional problems. This is why balancing hormones give a person a boost.

"Menengial Decompression Sign:" A Test for Fibromyalgia

The advancement in the test for Fibromyalgia will definitely change the way Fibromyalgia is looked at forever, for the first time we can prove where Fibromyalgia comes from with a simple orthopedic test. Not only this, but we can now alleviate most to all of the patients symptoms in two to three minutes with this test. The test is not only diagnostic but also prognostic. Those we are able to relieve their symptoms will almost always respond to treatment. The relief that comes from the testing is usually profound and lasts from minutes to days. I would like to say more about the dramatic changes that we see with the test but it would sound like I am making this up. For those of you who are interested you can go to our web site and see Fibromyalgia sufferers who are tested at our seminars first hand. The test is not perfect like anything but for those who have Fibromyalgia it almost always gives them relief in minutes. We are now able to temporarily remove the pulling of the menengies, partially in minutes, relieving many of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Relieving the symptoms proves this is where Fibromyalgia originates and finally solves the mystery of Fibromyalgia. If we can relieve patient's symptoms we can make a positive diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. If we can make this positive diagnosis, we can usually alleviate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia as well.

In 2008 I will be teaching this test in many countries to those who are interested. I would like to describe the test here in more detail but it is impossible to explain without and advance knowledge of anatomy and years of experience with palpation.

Cause and Effects of Fibromyalgia

A pulling on the menengies by way of encroachment or twisting appears to cause Fibromyalgia. This intrusion could indicate a tumor or other malformation, but we find that it is most often due to a change in the Cervical spine that cause this encroachment, which can reduce or distort the space through which the spinal cord and menengies must traverse the foramen magnum.

Any tugging on the menengies (remember the menengies attaches to the spinal nerve roots and the cranial nerves) can have devastating effects on this critical and sensitive nerve action, which in turn can produce a galaxy of undesirable symptoms.

The Menengies are the three membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord: the dura mater, pia mater, and arachnoid. This strong bag-like envelope holds the cerebrospinal fluid, which brings nutrition and healing to the brain and spinal cord. It is attached to all of the nerves that pass through it.

Nerve roots are extensions of the spinal cord that turn and exit between each vertebra, sending and receiving impulses that control virtually the entire body, even the smallest parts. Since these nerves pass through the menengies, naturally it follows that every bodily system can be affected by the pulling of the menengies in Fibromyalgia. These nerve roots also extend fibers to the brain, which transmit impulses that are then received as pain, burning, itching, hot, cold, tingling, or numbness, as well as other parasthesias (that is, odd feelings).

The pulling and irritation of these nerve roots cause nerve fibers to fire maverick impulses to the brain. The brain interprets these fired impulses as pain, itching, burning, coldness, numbness, or other odd feelings. The body, in response to stimuli from irritation, will often twitch or spasm, thus prompting the restless leg syndrome, muscle tightness, and spasms often experienced by Fibromyalgia patients. In more severe cases, the patient will lose the use of one or more of the limbs. Spasms may cause an arm to curl on the chest or oblige the patient to walk on the toes of one foot, or limp.

We have also seen some who have had one-sided pain (see section on one-sided FMS). Interestingly, this condition usually abates more rapidly. If Fibromyalgia were a systemic disease or an allergic reaction or a combination of stress, toxins, and trauma like many are saying, it couldn't affect just one side of the body, but pulling on the menengies could.

Typically Fibromyalgia irritation of the nerve roots bombards the sufferer's brain, overwhelming the autonomic and sensory pathways, keeping him in pain, awake at night, fatigued, and depressed.

The variations of FMS are as complex as the nervous system itself.

Nerve roots also carry impulses from the brain to the body, most of which tell the muscles to work on command. But in this case, because the nerves fire without legitimate cause, the muscles contract when they are supposed to be at rest. After years of contraction the muscles form scar tissue, resulting from the constant buildup of waste products from the metabolic process and the lack of blood flow in the contracted muscles.

And thus we have the name for Fibromyalgia-fibros indicates scar-tissue-type deposits, myo means muscle, and algia means pain. We have called this a misnomer, since you can readily see that we're looking at a result rather than a cause. But the name helped all of us as practitioners to look more closely at Fibromyalgia, identify it, and study it more carefully. A more accurate term would be Menengial Compression Syndrome-an encroachment on the spinal cord structures in the neck involving a Menengial tug or pulling created by Stenosis (narrowing or stricture of a duct or canal).

The results can be devastating. Try to imagine impulses from all over the body firing at one time, muscles contracting without cause, and the brain receiving impulses that you are in pain. Maybe you itch, or have burning or cold hands or feet. But even worse, the sympathetic nervous system fires nonstop.

This is the system that is involved when you think you are alone in a dark house and someone startles you. It is meant to help you run or fight in survival situations. When it is firing indiscriminately, the result is constant anxiety, and maybe panic attacks. This constant firing also causes adrenal fatigue. Sleep becomes difficult or impossible.

Let's pause here for a moment to take a closer look at the Autonomic Nervous System, to better understand what is happening. The ANS includes two subsystems: the Parasympathetic Nervous System and the Sympathetic Nervous System. The PNS has sometimes been called the "rest and digest" response. The PNS slows and relaxes many functions of the organs and body systems. For example, the PNS will dilate blood vessels to the GI tract, while slowing the heart beat and decreasing the force of the heart's contractions. These effects help to lower the metabolic strain on the body, resulting in energy conservation. The PNS can divert blood back to the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. And the increased blood flow to the GI tract aids digestion.

The Sympathetic Nervous System is frequently referred to as the "fight or flight" system, as it has a stimulating effect on organs and physiological systems. For example, the SNS constricts blood vessels feeding blood to the GI tract and skin, while dilating skeletal muscle and lung blood vessels. Bronchioles also dilate, allowing more oxygen to be exchanged in the lungs. At the same time, the SNS increases heart rate and contractility of the heart. This vastly increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles and diverts blood away from organs such as the GI tract, which are not important during the "fight or flight" response.

The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems cannot be active at the same time. Therefore an active SNS shuts down the PNS and the actions associated with it, like sleep and digestion. And now we have another complication. Since normally the parasympathetic nervous system operates during rest or relaxation, when the "fight or flight" response is in motion the sympathetic nervous system yields to the operation of the PNS. This accounts for insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome. At this point we have a volatile situation.

Now let's talk about the cranial nerves. They also pass through the menengies and are therefore affected; they can fire without proper control as well. The huge amounts of garbage information from the sensory nervous system overwhelms the brain, and the "domino effect" brings about nervousness, depression, fatigue, insomnia, pain, bowel dysfunction, anxiety, irritability, and sensitivity to light. Often the sufferer will want to sit in a quiet room to try to stop some of the damaging input. Rarely will you see these victims listening to loud music or looking forward to a party.

This is what menengial pulling can do. Yet with appropriate treatment we have seen the vision cleared, speech returned, and sense of smell regained. Some who said it sounded like they were under water have even had their hearing return. One woman who could only sit and cry with facial pain had relief within three weeks of treatment. These reports seem impossible. They also seem impossible to me, but seeing these things daily in our office bring the impossible to life. I invite anyone who may be skeptical to come and spend a day in our office with the patients and see what is really happening.

Q & A Section

Why FMS Often Starts with Physical Trauma

We believe the explanation is quite simple. The delicate relationship between the foramen magnum and the atlas is very often impacted by injuries involving the cervical spine. The spinal cord and its covering, the menengies, traverse gently through these structures with little room for error. In true Fibromyalgia, as we have seen, the first vertebra is displaced in such a fashion that it causes a pulling on the menengies, affecting many of the spinal nerve roots that are attached to it. So trauma must inevitably be implicated as a starting place for this condition. We may have physical trauma, surgery, or even mental trauma involved, as well as genetic predisposition.

1. Physical Trauma
The Number One cause of FMS is trauma caused by auto accidents. I have personally treated over 4,000 auto accident cases. Looking back, I wonder why I didn't put the evidence together sooner. So many people are left with Fibromyalgia-mild or severe-after auto accidents, that there can be little question of the connection.

Foreman and Croft, in their book, "Acceleration / Deceleration of the Cervical Spine," describe the effect of whiplash on the neck. We learn that a head that weighs 10-14 pounds can reach a pulling weight of 100-140 pounds in a 15 mph rear-end accident. If you happen to be rear ended by a semi truck going 5 mph this can be equal to being hit by a Volkswagen going 50 mph. If a car or truck is traveling at 35 or 50 mph, the pressure pulling back on your head and neck is as if you were on your back and someone dropped a 300 lb. weight attached to your neck by a strap. This impact only lasts for a fraction of a second, but 300 lbs. can do a lot of damage. This is precisely what happens in an auto collision; the head is thrown back and forth like this two or three times, snapping the neck severely, nearly always causing some irreversible damage that leads to long-term degeneration.

Now if we think of the head, heavy as it is, thrashing severely on the little bone we call the Atlas, or C-1, it is no wonder its normal resting position can be changed. This change produces a pulling on the menengies-which we have seen attaches to the spinal nerve roots-triggering the misfiring of nerve signals that activate Fibromyalgia.

Since the cause of Fibromyalgia has not been understood, the association with upper cervical spinal stenosis created by subluxations and menengial pulling has been overlooked. Yet our experience suggests that this is a very common cause of FMS. Since this underlying cause was not recognized during our training, the corrective technique we were taught actually intensifies the subluxation, making Fibromyalgia worse.

Most Fibromyalgia patients can remember a trauma close to the initiation of their symptoms, though they may not. This is usually a car accident or a blow to the head. For example, we have treated injuries of prisoners of war in Vietnam who were hit in the neck with rifle butts; diving injuries in pools; auto accidents; falls; fights; surgeries; etc. Other causes include injuries to the neck by way of hitting or whipping the head or neck.

One patient who came to us with a severe case of Fibromyalgia was injured when he slammed on his brakes on the ice to keep from hitting a bus. He avoided a collision, but did hit dry pavement, which snapped his neck-without hitting the steering wheel-and from that time on suffered with acute Fibromyalgia until treated in our facility. There was no contact with the head and he was only traveling 25 mph.

We are relatively fragile creatures who were not made to do some of the things we do, and nine million (estimate of Fibromyalgia suffers accepted by many) Americans will no doubt agree with me.

2. Surgery
I have a good friend who is an anesthesiologist; and after having so many patients claiming their symptoms began after surgery, we sat down and did our best to discover what was happening that could be causing Fibromyalgia during or after surgery. He had no idea how it could be occurring. He told me of the great care and consideration that was taken in the surgical room by almost all of the people he knew. He explained how they supported the neck with foam supports, or sometimes an IV bag, and how gentle they were with the patients. Yet we have had many patients tell us they came out of surgery screaming in severe pain that never let up until treated in our office.

This area needs much more research, which might most effectively be done by a coordinated effort of chiropractors and anesthesiologists. But our initial thought was that when you sleep you have muscle tone, and if you are uncomfortable you roll over or move to adjust your position to relieve the pressure. When you are under anesthesia your muscles have no tone; they are flaccid with no control at all, and you can't move if you need to. During this time we believe the C-1 vertebra is pushed under the occipital (skull) and literally pushes up against the menengies. Whatever the cause may prove to be, we have seen too many cases of Fibromyalgia initiated or increased by surgery to be ignored-probably 40% of the patients we see.

3. Mental Stress
The connection between mental stress and spinal stenosis secondary to C-1 alignment might seem to be a stretch, but we have had many people tell us that their Fibromyalgia started immediately after the death of a loved one, mental abuse, a divorce, or a variety of other stressful conditions. And having recognized the intimate relationship between cervical problems and FMS, it is fair to consider that stress can also be a factor. Though we are not exactly sure how this sort of movement can be caused by stress, we now believe it is. Our presumption is that since stress causes muscle tightness, it can ultimately bring about a shift in alignment. As you would expect, stress control is a very important part of our treatment protocol.

4. Genetic Predisposition
One more factor we must consider is genetic predisposition. Our primary focus on spinal stenosis and trauma seemed to preclude a relationship with genetic disposition. But our stance on this has changed after seeing far too many families with multiple Fibromyalgia sufferers. At present there seems to be a genetic weakness that allows certain families to develop FMS more easily than others. We believe it is likely due to the hereditary size and formation of the occipital and the atlas. I had a patient who had thirteen family members with Fibromyalgia. Much more research on this issue is needed.

Why FMS Often Starts with Surgery

I have a good friend who is an anesthesiologist; and after having so many patients claiming their symptoms began after surgery, we sat down and did our best to discover what was happening that could be causing Fibromyalgia during or after surgery. He had no idea how it could be occurring. He told me of the great care and consideration that was taken in the surgical room by almost all of the people he knew. He explained how they supported the neck with foam supports, or sometimes an IV bag, and how gentle they were with the patients. Yet we have had many patients tell us they came out of surgery screaming in severe pain that never let up until treated in our office.

Whatever the cause may prove to be, we have seen too many cases of Fibromyalgia initiated or increased by surgery to be ignored - probably 40% of the patients we see.

Why FMS Often Starts with Mental Stress

The connection between mental stress and spinal stenosis secondary to C-1 alignment might seem to be a stretch, but we have had many people tell us that their Fibromyalgia started immediately after the death of a loved one, mental abuse, a divorce, or a variety of other stressful conditions. And having recognized the intimate relationship between cervical problems and FMS, it is fair to consider that stress can also be a factor. Though we are not exactly sure how this sort of movement can be caused by stress, we now believe it is.

Our presumption is that since stress causes muscle tightness, it can ultimately bring about a shift in alignment. As you would expect, stress control is a very important part of our treatment protocol.

Why FMS Often Starts with Genetic Predisposition

Our primary focus on spinal stenosis and trauma seemed to preclude a relationship with genetic disposition. But our stance on this has changed after seeing far too many families with multiple Fibromyalgia sufferers. At present there seems to be a genetic weakness that allows certain families to develop FMS more easily than others. We believe it is likely due to the hereditary size and formation of the occipital and the atlas. Much more research on this issue is needed.

One Sided Fibromyalgia

We have found that in some cases the atlas will torque on only one side, causing one-sided pain. This is because the meninges is impinged on the torqued side and causes those nerves to fire, sending signals of pain to the brain on just one side. We have only seen this in perhaps 5% of our patients, but it does exist. These will respond to treatment just as well or better than the average FMS patient.

Suicide and Fibromyalgia

If you are considering suicide, you are not alone. Fibromyalgia sufferers have one of the highest suicide rates. Almost every Fibromyalgia patient I see thinks about it. If you are not thinking about it, you probably have a milder case. For most patients the fatigue, pain, and depression just wear them out. They may feel like life is not worth living. But please, don't let something so easily corrected take your life. We have seen most of our Fibromyalgia patients overcome this condition. There's abundant hope and every likelihood that with just a little effort you may get your life back again.

If you are a friend or relative of a Fibromyalgia sufferer, please consider this: In moderate to severe cases, FMS will cause fatigue from sleep deprivation and sympathetic stimulation on a level totally unknown to the average person. A famous radio host once said, "All men are wimps if they don't get the proper rest". Fibromyalgia sufferers go way beyond this. Think of never having a rested morning, but waking every day feeling so exhausted you wonder if you can possibly live through the day with your energy this depleted. Now add to this overwhelming pain, panic attacks, inability to think clearly, and massive feelings of depression. So here we have a formula for suicide, even for one who is normally emotionally sound but who has been worn down by years of hopeless anguish. I recently had a patient who presented in a wheel chair, her body jerking involuntarily, crying and begging me to let her die. She had many times tried to kill herself and recently took one hundred and nine pain pills. One week later she was walking without her wheel chair and laughing. Taking this pressure off of the menengies can create powerful results. If you have a clamp on your leg for years you may not believe you could ever be out of pain but if it is removed you could get relief. Why is it so difficult to believe this is deferent?

Most of these people tell me that death is a welcome thought, as opposed to a lifetime of relentless agony, but they're restrained because they do not want to hurt their family. Here's a precious life at stake that could well be saved by a friend or loved one's understanding and sincere sympathy. Even without a remedy, simply the knowledge that there's someone who understands can turn the tide. Those of us who are closest to these sufferers may have that privilege. The life of a loved one is at stake.

Misdiagnosis and Confusion with Other Diseases

Alcoholics and Addicts: if your Fibromyalgia is severe enough, you will medicate, whether by prescription, alcohol, or street drugs. The sad part is that people who self medicate not only have a serious illness but a degrading label. We do not have statistics on addicts and Fibromyalgia, but we suspect the percentage is very high. You might not be chemically addicted in the usual sense but simply trying to self-medicate in an effort to relieve intolerable suffering.

Multiple Sclerosis: many of our patients have, at one time or another, been told they may have MS, or have actually been diagnosed with it. Both conditions have severe symptoms. Having treated patients with both, we have found that the MS patients in general seem to be happier and much more at peace with themselves. A good specialist can rule out MS.

Chemical Sensitivity and Allergies: Other things can mimic Fibromyalgia, such as allergies and sensitivities to chemicals like household products, and even caffeine. A thorough workup is needed to perform an accurate differential diagnosis. It is possible to have both FMS and chemical sensitivities. This makes treatment much more difficult, but not impossible.

Depression and Post-concussion Syndrome: under the heading of depression we include depression syndrome, depression suicide, clinical depression, mental depression, stress depression, depression and fatigue, teenage depression, and bipolar depression. We understand that the combination of sleep deprivation, fatigue, and the neurological aspects could explain the entire basis of depression, but there seems to be more involved. We have shown that the depression leaves when we remove the pressure from the meninges; but we also suspect that this pulling and pressure on the meninges is somehow causing depression independently of the other factors.

Lymes Disease can mimic Fibromyalgia and needs to be part of the differential diagnosis. Patients with Lymes Disease usually sleep well, while FMS patients do not. Much research needs to be done in this area.

Lupus: further research is needed here as well. Lupus seems to be a common problem with Fibromyalgia patients.

The Effects of Fibromyalgia on Relationships

The sum effect of all of the problems of Fibromyalgia can leave these sick individuals almost intolerable to live or work with. Yet they are intolerable to themselves also, and need lots of understanding, love, and support. They will probably need it more than at any other time in their lives, because they will probably never be in such a difficult situation again. Many of them feel that even death can seem preferable to living with Fibromyalgia.

Marriage is especially difficult. The spouse is afraid, can't be touched because of skin sensitivity, is depressed, in pain, and very tired. He or she may yell, be unreasonable, and in more severe cases lose the ability to communicate on a rational basis. This is because the nervous system is on overload and these people can't function as normal individuals no matter how hard they try. In milder cases of FMS your spouse or co-worker may just appear mean, and may not even have the satisfaction of a correct diagnosis. But these symptoms usually resolve early in treatment.

To put this in perspective, imagine having pain impulses from all over the body being sent to the brain, much as when a heroin addict is withdrawing from heroin. (This may vary from person to person in intensity.) In addition to this, the sympathetic nervous system is being stimulated constantly, causing one to feel as we might when walking into a dark home, thinking we're alone, and someone grabs us from behind. This sensation often continues night and day without relief in the Fibromyalgia patient.

This constant stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system also causes a shutdown of the intestinal system, which in turn causes irritable bowel syndrome. The adrenal glands, constantly producing adrenaline, become damaged and quit functioning properly. The emotional centers become affected, causing depression ranging from mild to overwhelming. Many patients describe feeling waves of depression.

Moreover, the stimulation to the nerve roots sends signals to the muscles to contract, causing constant muscle spasms. These can be located in the neck and shoulders, the low back, and sometimes the entire body all at once. Spastic-type paralysis can occur, especially upon arising, sometimes causing inability to walk due to pain in the hips and loss of function in the legs.

Sexual relations are often too painful or unfulfilling; desire may be decreased or non-existent. This is a very ill person. How much fun are you when you have a bad case of the flu? We have seen that FMS is much worse than that, and we haven't even mentioned the effects of drug medication. Those who are close to these sufferers will want to be sensitive to their condition and not expect the impossible of them.

All of these factors combine to place stress on relationships at home, in the workplace, and in all of the social situations. It requires lots of understanding and patience on both sides.

Light Case of Fibromyalgia

The difference between a mild and a severe case of Fibromyalgia is fractional to me as a medical practitioner-just a few millimeters of movement in the neck. But to the person who owns that neck it can be life changing. Often the light case can be more devastating than a severe case. The severe case is very obvious and will be attended to, but a light case is often missed completely.

Let's look at the light case sufferers. They will sleep poorly, often suffer from idiopathic depression (depression of unknown origin), be irritable for no reason, sometimes antisocial, may have light stomach problems, and may be jumpy. These people may be the ones who end up in therapy trying to find out why they feel so bad inside. Perhaps they will turn to drinking to feel better temporarily. How will this affect their lives, their marriages, their promotions, or their friendships?

Often they end up on antidepressants and sleeping pills, and develop poor self-esteem. If you look around, you probably know a few of these people. Maybe they are relatives or work acquaintances. They may not have the outgoing friendly personality of most people. You will notice them because they are often loners. One day they bite your head off and the next they are friendly.

These people are much less likely to get help, because neither they nor their doctor will make the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. They will not have the typical pain patterns of FMS and are apt to be sent for counseling, or medicated, and regarded as just another person who doesn't deal well with life. Light case sufferers are very likely to go into a full-blown case of FMS following trauma such as surgery, or even a minor auto accident. Yet they respond very well to treatment, and in less time than the more severe cases.

Fibromyalgia and Children

A child sees whatever is going on in life as normal. We have seen many children with Fibromyalgia, and one common denominator is this: they think what they feel is normal until it gets so bad it becomes overwhelming. Most parents will think their kid is just whining or is "just a baby". Children will not tell you all of their problems unless you ask the right questions; they don't always know what is abnormal. But consistently, when we ask the correct questions of children with Fibromyalgia, they will shock their parents with answers that reveal just what the child is going through.

Consider that a child with a significant case of Fibromyalgia doesn't have energy, so he isn't as active as the other children. His mind is foggy and forgetful so he can't compete with the other kids in school unless he is extremely bright or has a lighter case. He is emotional, so he is seen as moody. He can't sleep well, so he gets in trouble for not going to sleep. He is always tired so he is labeled as lazy. He will usually have stomach problems and be charged with faking to avoid school or chores. And he will usually not be good at or even have a desire to compete in sports. This child might take refuge in food or drugs, or maybe end up with troubled kids as friends.

Usually children respond very quickly to normal treatment for back problems, but with Fibromyalgia they seem to take longer. It is also difficult to keep children down when they start to feel better after being ill, and flare-ups will inevitably follow their irrepressible enthusiasm about feeling good again.

Mental Illness

Our focus is on Fibromyalgia, not on mental illness per se. But anyone who works in this area will understand how the mind is affected. As we meet this in our practice, and have consulted with specialists in this field, we see once again the close relationship between the mind and the body. Whatever affects the body will inevitably affect the mind - and vice versa. There are the factors of exhaustion, prolonged pain, and trying to meet the frustrations of cognitive failures and lack of concentration, along with whatever other problems are involved. Naturally there will be emotional and logical thinking problems. In addition there is the issue of medications and their particular effects. There's no doubt in my mind that FMS can bring about mental illness to some degree.

The "Menengial Decompression Method"

We do not claim to treat Fibromyalgia. We are moving on the premise that it is a condition of the cervical spine causing an uncontrolled firing of the nervous system. The aim of The Menengial Decompression Method is simply to reduce the subluxation that causes the symptoms we know as "Fibromyalgia."

Every patient is different and has to be treated accordingly. The uncontrolled firing of the nervous system does not always come about from the same misalignment in every person. This results in different manifestations in different individuals, who understandably must be treated accordingly.

The procedure involves the movement of the atlas (the first cervical vertebra) in relationship to the occipital (the back and underside of the skull). Actually it is not one technique; it is a series of techniques that are applied at the appropriate times. Some of these are modifications of standard techniques and some we have developed. Those we use today are quite different from those used even one year ago. It has taken six years to develop this treatment and it is still being refined.

Our objective is to free up the neurological structures that are being encroached upon, thus allowing the brain and spinal cord to return to normal function. In most cases, there is little or no pain associated with this procedure. Where there has been severe trauma and many years in which to develop arthritis in the neck, the adjustments may be more painful, but not intolerable. Any pain associated with the treatment usually lasts only seconds. If there is fibrosis or scar tissue in the affected joints there can be some mild soreness after the first two or three days of initial treatments.

The typical three-times-a-week treatment the average chiropractic patient receives is not sufficient to accomplish this for Fibromyalgia patients, and response is limited. While the length of treatment for most people is generally two or three times a day over a period of eight to ten weeks (eight weeks usually works the best and is the standard for most patients), the treatment schedule often needs personal customization to meet individual conditions. The longer time period we used at first has been refined and shortened by using a more intensive treatment schedule of two or three treatments a day. This is simply because it is in the nature of Fibromyalgia and its causative mechanisms for the atlas to quickly return to the abnormal state where it has been for so long. And so it becomes of the utmost importance to hold the correction completely in place while the affected ligaments adjust and the body attempts to maintain this new position.

Chiropractic Treatment and Fibromyalgia

While standard chiropractic procedures may bring temporary relief, these procedures may also intensify the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, and in some cases cause further impairment. Evaluation techniques taught in chiropractic schools are often inconclusive, and treatment procedures easily complicate symptoms and interfere with recovery. Without clearly identifying the true cause, such management is ill-equipped to treat this condition.

The menengial decompression technique is a groundbreaking approach that not only realistically identifies a condition and its cause, but also employs new procedures and applications to correct this critical condition of the cervical spine. By treating FMS symptoms in relation to their logical cause, we've been able to demonstrate surprisingly consistent results. And by increasing frequency of treatments, these corrections are reinforced and stabilization is secured.

OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disease

I know very little about OCD, but have recently seen multiple patients diagnosed with OCD who have had a complete remission of symptoms as their Fibromyalgia remitted. What this means I am not sure, but I include this to make sure that it becomes public and hopefully this will become a topic of research in the future. I believe it has to do with the high levels of adrenaline and the Sympathetic nervous system.

One patient was an eighteen-year-old boy who counted everything. He had difficulty driving for counting the lines on the road. He also had difficulty in class as he counted the rings on his spiral notebooks over and over and counted ceiling tiles and many other things. This condition slowly disappeared at the same rate as his Fibromyalgia. I am just guessing, but it may have had something to do with the overloading of the brain with impulses, thus interfering with normal brain activity. This subject needs much research.

Because in the past we have only treated patients with Fibromyalgia and not seen them get well, we have not been able to understand fully that many conditions, which until now have been considered to be independent, are being revealed as conditions that remit with Fibromyalgia-Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Restless Leg Syndrome, insomnia, trigeminal neuralgia, swallowing difficulties, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and many, many other conditions. Does this mean that all of these conditions are only caused by Fibromyalgia? Absolutely not, but Fibromyalgia needs to be considered when evaluating these conditions.

What Happens at Our Office

People come to us with different degrees of illness, but mostly we see the more severe cases. These patients are usually having a difficult time just getting to the office. They are overtired and afraid, often having to be supported by family members. Mainly they are afraid to have hope. They have been so many places and been disappointed so many times, they hesitate to allow themselves any hope that they may recover. If they continue to doubt that they will get well they have nothing to lose.

Living away from home to receive treatment takes some adjustment. The first two weeks most patients want to go home, but they stay because they see others getting well. Our patients typically stay on after their treatment, just to talk and visit with the other patients. We may walk out into the reception room and find fifteen to twenty people laughing and sharing stories, and only three or four were waiting for treatment. The rest were just having too much fun to go home.

Everyone is so friendly and willing to help and to take the new patients under their wings. So everyone comes to know everyone else very well. They share with each other what they have been through, they laugh together, cry together, and toward the end of their treatment they are shopping and traveling and spending leisure time together. They become the best of friends.

We find the overall spirit of our patients to be very positive and enthusiastic. New, sick patients always go first and no one ever objects. There may be five people ahead of you, but if you are doing poorly you go first. Everyone has been there and everyone understands. Besides, no one has to go home or to work anyway, because everyone is from out of town. A new friend from England, Canada, or New Zealand may be sitting next to you, helping you get through that first uncertain part of your treatment.

Dos and Don'ts During and After Treatment

Do not extend the head for more than a second or two.
Do sleep with the head in about the same position as when you are standing.
Do not sleep on your stomach.
Do use a small pillow to support the head while lying on your back, but do not allow it to push against your neck. The pillow should go from your upper back to your head.
Do, while lying on your side, put a pillow under your head, letting it support your neck, so your head is straight with your spine.
Do not participate in activities that cause bouncing or jarring of the head for at least six months after treatment. We are trying to get the neck to stay in place. It has been out of place for quite some time in most cases and will need all of the help it can get to stay there.
Do not exercise other than walking during the first month of treatment. Walk often but do not push yourself during this time. After the first month consult with your treating doctor concerning exercise. When you go home, the first six months are critical to help stabilization. Therefore the same rules apply. An exercise bike is good, or a bike that allows you to sit upright, or something that does not cause you to have to look up.

Avoid surgery now and for the rest of your life if possible. If you absolutely must have it, have your anesthesiologist call our office before surgery. If you are unable to do these things you will need to be checked immediately after your surgery, or as soon as you are able to travel.

Massage

Massage is a very important element in this treatment. However, if administered too early it will most likely cause flare-ups. This may cause a temporary setback while you recover. Usually we start massage in the fifth week of treatment. By this time the sympathetic nervous system has usually returned to normal, most of the pain signals have stopped, and patients then will respond well to massage, giving them a big leap forward in their progress.

Going Home

Getting well and going home should be some of the most exciting experiences in life, but they can be attended with some fear and anxiety. A patient who has experienced severe pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue for many years develops an aversion to the things around her that have been associated with her illness. She may fear that if she goes back to all this she may become ill again.

Many of you will find that going back to the house where you were sick, and to the job that you worked at while you were sick, and too many of the things that had painful associations, will take considerable time to adjust to. They are afraid of the expectations of friends and family and daily pressures. It is important for friends and relatives to understand these reactions so that they can help their loved one to adjust to a completely new life after returning home.

While going home to a new way of life is usually eagerly anticipated, it also means saying goodbye to dear friends who have become companions in suffering, as well as in triumphs.

Living and Treating away from Home

People come to us with different degrees of illness, but mostly we see the more severe cases. These patients are usually having a difficult time just getting to the office. They are overtired and afraid, often having to be supported by family members. Mainly they are afraid to have hope. They have been so many places and been disappointed so many times, they hesitate to allow themselves any hope that they may recover. If they continue to doubt that they will get well they have nothing to lose. It isn't like "chemo" or some life-threatening treatment-the treatment is natural and essentially painless-but having one more failed hope can be frightening. This protective mechanism lasts until they are sure they are getting well. At that point they go directly from hesitation to enthusiasm. The change is very apparent; the worry leaves their faces and they go from being "patient" to being "parent". Now they are the encouragers, the ones looking after the new patients, helping them through their initial apprehension.

Living away from home to receive treatment takes some adjustment. The first two weeks most patients want to go home, but they stay because they see others getting well. Our patients typically stay on after their treatment, just to talk and visit with the other patients. We may walk out into the reception room and find fifteen to twenty people laughing and sharing stories, and only three or four were waiting for treatment. The rest were just having too much fun to go home.

Follow-Up Care

Follow-up care with a physician is not needed in most cases. We do have two different modalities we have our patients use at home. Our second device we started using last year has almost stopped our post care problems. With the new devices we developed last year we are able to train a family member to perform a technique that works much better than the previous devices and much better than seeing a follow up with a Chiropractor in most cases.

Call our office with any problems you have when you go home, we do not charge for this and are glad to help. We do not want you to regress. In the event you get home and find that you start having any return in symptoms that cannot be resolved with your home treatment or through our office, contact your local chiropractor immediately and have him or her call our office. We will make sure your doctor has adequate information to follow up on your care and keep your symptoms to a minimum. The most difficult part of your treatment will be taken care of while you are here and any follow-up should be easy for your local doctor to perform.

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