Fibromyalgia and chronic pain – could Osteopathy and Acupuncture help?
Around two million Brits live with fibromyalgia, an agonising, chronic condition which is notoriously difficult to diagnose.
Most common in young to middle aged women; there is sadly no cure, although the symptoms can be controlled to make daily life easier. The exact cause of this debilitating condition is unknown, but researchers believe it may be related to chemicals in the brain, plus there could be a genetic predisposition. Often, it is triggered by a stressful physical or emotional event, like the death of a loved one, the breakdown of a relationship or an operation or physical injury.
Famous suffers of fibromyalgia include Lady Gaga. In an interview with Vogue, she said of the illness: “Chronic pain is no joke. And it’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel.”
Fibromyalgia is characterised by generalised and often heightened pain in the muscles and tendons of the body. Diagnostic criteria list up to 18 symmetrical tender points on the body but in fact the condition often includes a wide range of associated signs and symptoms, such that it is often referred to as a Fibromyalgia Syndrome. These include:
- Sleep disturbance
- Temperature dysregulation e.g. Raynauds
- Irritable bladder
- Poor memory/attention span
- Headache, dizziness, occipital pain
- Mechanical low back pain
- Sciatic pain
There is significant co-occurrence of fibromyalgia with hypothyroidism (under active thyroid), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma.
One uniting feature of the symptoms of fibromyalgia is that they can be associated with poor regulation in the autonomic nervous system of the body. Onset of fibromyalgia is often associated with prolonged stress and poor sleep. These prevent the body from repairing and healing in the normal way and can trigger a “cascade” of the above symptoms as the body’s normal regulatory mechanisms gradually go awry.
Osteopaths may be able to help with both diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia. A thorough osteopathic case history will allow us to understand the range of symptoms and, through assessment of movement and gentle touch, the osteopath will be able to gauge the state of the tissues and how to treat appropriately for relief of symptoms. Osteopaths are highly aware of the role of the autonomic nervous system in health and illness and have many gentle and effective ways of interacting with it to rebalance neurological tone and stimulate the healing process.
So, if you, or someone you know, has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or is suffering from any of the symptoms listed above then why not book an appointment?