Fibromyalgia is a little understood illness that still has the stigma of not being a real disease to many ignorant people and doctors. However, people who do have fibromyalgia would argue that the reality of their life with fibromyalgia includes pain, stiffness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.
Perhaps studies of brain changes and chronic pain may help researchers and doctors better understand illnesses like fibromyalgia. The latest research is suggesting that fibromyalgia has a connection with the central nervous system and is the result of a malfunction, or dysfunction, of the central nervous system. A. Kuchinad and colleagues studied 10 women who had fibromyalgia and compared them with 10 women who did not have the illness. Among the women with fibromyalgia, Kuchinad’s team found a reduction in brain tissue that wasn’t found in the controls. This finding was backed up by yet another study not long after. Other research has shown awake like brain activity in patients with Fibromyalgia when sleeping. No REM sleep leads to the unrefreshed sleep common with the condition.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is another syndrome that has its skeptics. There is no test for IBS (nor for fibromyalgia). Diseases that have no tests are diagnosed through exclusion. This means that doctors must do tests to rule out all other possibilities and IBS is only diagnosed when all other illnesses are ruled out. People with IBS experience pain and cramping, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. As with fibromyalgia, brain imaging of patients with IBS has found a loss in brain tissue and the patterns are very similar to fibromyalgia and other chronic pain issues.
So what is wrong with the central nervous system with people who are suffering with these mysterious conditions?
A Common Underlying Cause?
Frequently, an undetected head or neck injury that is affecting the brain is related to both of these conditions. An upper neck misalignment causes pressure on the central nervous system at the level of the atlas (top bone in the neck). When accidents and injuries tear loose the connective tissue that holds the spine together it will create a weakness and allow the spine to break down and lock into a stressed position. The most vulnerable area of the body to trauma is the upper neck because it is the most movable area of the entire body. If that top bone is misaligned it disrupts the function of the central nervous system.
We have seen hundreds of patients with upper neck misalignments in our practice and frequently it is an underlying cause of conditions like Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A common scenario is a person will have a head or neck trauma earlier on in life , leading to the head and neck being significantly misaligned and that misalignment causing pressure into the brain stem. As the pressure is removed the body begins the healing process. The longer that nervous system has been dysfunctional the longer it takes to heal. Eventually you will see a decrease in pain and stiffness, sleep improves and energy increases.
Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome have similar results. As the nervous system begins sending the proper messages to the digestive system again…digestion frequently becomes normal.
So does this type of care help everyone with Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Of course not! Nothing is 100%. But if you have had a head or neck trauma prior to the onset of the symptoms then NUCCA could be the answer.
Don’t give up hope…there is a cause behind every effect in the body.
Dr. Tymothy Flory, Dr. James Weiss and Dr. Jameson Wong of Atlas Spinal Care in Upland, California are Upper Cervical Specialists trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Their upper cervical clinic also serves Claremont, La Verne, San Dimas, Glendora and surrounding areas. They are uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems.