First, let’s talk about what fibromyalgia really is. Then we will see how it may be related to cardiovascular disease and where you can find reliable help.
Fibromyalgia, often abbreviated FM, is a chronic disorder, meaning it is long-term. It is known to cause widespread pain throughout the entire body, including the muscles and bones. It also is associated with tender spots throughout the body and a general feeling of extreme tiredness. These symptoms are referred to as being subjective. This means they cannot be verified or measured by any test, often leading to FM being misdiagnosed as another condition.
Because there is no way to confirm or deny its existence, some doctors doubt its validity. It is definitely becoming more widely accepted than ever before, but some doctors and researchers do not consider FM a real condition. This often causes those suffering from it to become depressed because they cannot get answers or even find help for their condition.
The good news is that researchers are closer than ever to understanding this mysterious condition, which could help stigma about it to begin to disappear. Previously, doctors had concerns that patients would use it to manipulate doctors into prescribing pain medications that were unnecessary. However, that fear is going away as a lifestyle change is now the preferred method of care instead of medications.
The Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia consists of certain areas of tenderness in the body called trigger points. A trigger point is an area of your body that reads even a light touch as painful. In the past, there were 18 specific points used to diagnose someone with fibromyalgia. However, this is not longer the case. The pain from these trigger points is usually referred to as a dull, constant ache that affects many parts of the body. If you have had this type of pain for at least 3 months, doctors will most likely diagnose you with FM. Some other symptoms you may experience are:
- Headaches or migraines
- A pain or dull ache in the lower part of the abdomen
- Problems focusing or paying attention
- Problems with getting a good night’s rest
- Extreme exhaustion
- Sleeping long periods of time and never really feeling rested
These symptoms are believed to be caused by the way the brain and nerves are receiving signals from the body and then reacting to them. If they overreact, pain signals ensue and can be traced back to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Where Are Trigger Points Located?
When this was a diagnostic criterion, you had to meet 11 out of the 18 trigger points. To test for this, doctors would press firmly on the points to see if they were painful. These trigger points are located in the following areas:
- Outer elbows
- Tops of the shoulders
- Upper chest
- Back of the head
How Fibromyalgia Is Connected to Heart Disease
When you have FM, you often experience some symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain, heartburn, and heart palpitations. Because this condition is known for widespread pain, these symptoms are often just attributed to FM and not taken seriously as a heart problem. However, researchers in Taiwan have discovered that fibromyalgia patients have a higher risk for heart disease and should have their heart issues taken seriously. The increased risk for heart problems can be inherited or can be caused by FM itself as it progresses. A cause-and-effect relationship has not been found as of yet. An additional study found that those with fibromyalgia are also at risk for having a stroke.
Tips to Improve Heart Health with Fibromyalgia
There is a chance that cardiovascular issues may arise due to lack of exercise because of the pain of FM. Lack of exercise leads to weight gain, raises blood pressure and cholesterol, and increases inflammation. Here are some things you can do to improve your heart health:
- Get a massage: Proven to slow your heart rate, massage is a great idea for heart health.
- Get moving: Exercise as much as you can without overdoing it. Some ideas are swimming, walking, or bike riding.
- De–stress: Too much stress aggravates FM symptoms and is hard on the heart.
- Keep mentally healthy: If you suffer from depression or anxiety, try to get these conditions under control to the best of your ability. Depression has been shown to increase your risk of a heart attack.
- Sleep on it: It is vital to try to get the best sleep you can. Keep your room dark, turn off all electronics, and only use your bedroom for sleeping, not for reading or watching TV.
Finding Help for Fibromyalgia the Natural Way
Fibromyalgia has been linked to a misalignment in the bones of the upper cervical spine, particularly the C1 and C2. These bones were created to protect the brainstem. However, if they happen to misalign due to a blow to the head or neck, whiplash, a sports-related accident, or other trauma, they can actually have a negative impact on the brainstem and cause it to send improper signals to the brain. This may be what causes the brain to think the body is experiencing a lot of pain when it is not really undergoing pain at all.
In order to realign these bones, upper cervical chiropractors use a specialized method that is both gentle and precise. It is not like traditional chiropractic care in that it does not involve popping or cracking of the back or neck. Rather, we use a method that encourages these bones to move back into place naturally. This results in a longer-lasting adjustment, meaning fewer visits to our office in the long run. Many patients that have had an adjustment have seen great improvement in their fibromyalgia symptoms.