Fibromyalgia (FM) & Central Nervous System Problems

 Do you hurt all over, frequently feel exhausted, can’t seem to ever feel “rested” after a night’s sleep, don’t respond to any of the recommended medications from your family physician and no test seems to uncover anything specific?  If this sounds like you, it is possible that you are suffering from fibromyalgia (FM).  FM is a chronic/long term condition including generalized pain in the muscles and joints, usually on both sides of the body above and below the waist, with associated “tender points” where moderate to firm pressure causes pain classically in the following locations (but anywhere is possible): 



  • Back of the head
  • Between shoulder blades
  • Top of shoulders
  • Front sides of neck
  • Upper chest
  • Outer elbows
  • Upper hips
  • Sides of hips
  • Inner knees

In fact, a generalized hypersensitivity is common and it seems like you just can’t turn off your brain.  It can begin with a physical or an emotional event but doesn’t have to, as it can seem to come out of nowhere, as well.  In the US, about 2% of the population, mostly women and especially with increasing age are affected by FM.  One common underlying clinical finding is non-restoring sleep with frequent interruptions during the night.  Sleep disorders that are associated with FM include restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.   

In one study, disturbance in the central nervous system (CNS) has been implicated with FM.  In a group of 168 FM patients, various tests were performed including an auditory brainstem response (ABR) which tests the cranial nerve that is responsible for our hearing and balance; a test that measures for eye movements primarily when sleeping; and, a third test that measures balance functions.  The following is a list of the results from the 168 patient study:   

  • 78% of the FM patients complained of dizziness or vertigo. Most of these cases were   mild, but 4% complained of constant, severe dizziness.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss was found in 15% of the FM patients.
  • 51 of the subjects (30%) had abnormal ABR test findings.
  • 58% had abnormal eye movement tests, and 45% had abnormal findings on the balance test.

Some studies also report that similar symptoms associated with whiplash associated disorders (WAD).  Chiropractic is a very important player in the management of the FM patient.  We help the patient set realistic goals and offer strategies that help to achieve those goals.  Because many doctors do not support the diagnosis of FM, patients with FM need a “quarterback” to them in the management process, and chiropractic is a logical choice. We are committed to help you or a loved one that is suffering with FM, and sharing this information may be one of most evident acts of kindness you can give. 


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