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Fibromyalgia and Alternative Treatments


How can chiropractic care help fibromyalgia?

Chiropractic care is a very common alternative or complementary treatment for fibromyalgia pain. People use it to treat pain of pressure points, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and pain from musculoskeletal injuries. Chiropractic treatment may be effective for fibromyalgia because it helps improve pain levels and increase cervical and lumbar ranges of motion.

Chiropractic treatment is based on the principle that the body is a self-healing organism. To reduce pain and increase healing, the doctor of chiropractic uses spinal adjustments. The goal is to increase the mobility between spinal vertebrae, which have become restricted, locked, or slightly out of proper position.

Chiropractors do this by using hand adjustments. With gentle pressure or stretching, multiple gentle movements of one area, or specific high-velocity thrusts, the adjustments are said to help return the bones to a more normal position or motion. This return is said to relieve pain and reduce ill health.

Can massage ease fibromyalgia pain?

With Swedish massage, the practitioner uses a system of long strokes, kneading, and friction techniques. With these, the practitioner massages the more superficial layers of the muscles. The massage is combined with active and passive movements of the joints.

Oil is usually used to facilitate the stroking and kneading of the body, thereby stimulating circulation. The massage therapist applies pressure and rubs the muscles in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart.

In deep-tissue massage therapists use greater pressure than is used in Swedish massage. In so doing, they target the deep layers of muscle. Using a series of slow strokes and direct pressure, the therapist will strive to release chronic patterns of muscular tension. Sometimes, the therapists use their elbows or thumbs to push hard into the deepest grain of the muscle to reduce tension.

Neuromuscular massage combines the basic principles of ancient Oriental treatments, such as acupressure and shiatsu, with specific hands-on, deep-tissue treatment. The goal is to reduce chronic muscle or myofascial (soft-tissue) pain.

Massage is one of the complementary therapies that is most highly rated by people with fibromyalgia. Limited research has shown that massage can help reduce pain, elevate mood, decrease the need for pain medicines, and increase the quality of life for some fibromyalgia patients.

How does biofeedback work to ease fibromyalgia?

To individualize the reduction of stress in the treatment of fibromyalgia, biofeedback is often recommended. This mind/body relaxation technique uses electronics to measure stress-related responses in the body. The idea behind biofeedback is that people can use information about their body's internal processes to learn to control those processes.

A consensus statement from the National Institutes of Health indicates there is good evidence that biofeedback might help relieve many types of chronic pain. For example, it might be useful in treating tension and migraine headaches. In one study at the University of South Alabama, 80% of children with migraines were symptom-free after receiving intensive biofeedback training. In other research, some headache patients who were able to increase hand temperature using thermal biofeedback also experienced fewer and less intense migraine headaches.

WebMD Medical Reference

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