By Thomas D. Groover, BS, BSCI, MA, DC
Successful Fibromyalgia recovery and the attainment of health and wellness requires holistic, priority based, function driven corrective care. The term holistic pertains to comprehension of all parts of the person as intimately connected and explicable, only by reference to the whole. Priority based, refers to treatment of the deepest causations of your conditions. Function driven corrective care focuses upon normalization of deficiencies in the way your body works as the means for eliminating and reducing your symptoms.
At the time of my first Fibromyalgia patient encounter, the upper cervical chiropractic community thought Fibromyalgia was caused by the upper cervical spinal misalignment. Upper cervical chiropractors (those who are expert at correcting misalignments of the junction of the base of the head with the top of your neck) hypothesized that scientific, objectively verified, upper cervical chiropractic spinal correction would resolve Fibromyalgia by treating its cause. See Groover Clinic’s First Fibromyalgia Success and Fibromyalgia Challenges My Healthcare Paradigm. However, a few incomplete Fibromyalgia recoveries, using predominantly upper cervical spinal care showed me otherwise. Fibromyalgia is a condition caused by accumulated stress from diverse sources, with the upper cervical spinal misalignment being a major player.
My two previous articles describe how pelvis misalignment is an enormous factor in Fibromyalgia. Correcting upper cervical and pelvis misalignments relieves mechanical, neurological, muscular, gravitational and chemical stress throughout the body. Correcting pelvis misalignment also normalizes the spine’s structural base of support, further improving spine function, and your ability to move. Now I would like to reveal to you how lower spine corrective care plays an important role in Fibromyalgia recovery.
Strictly upper cervical specific doctors think upper cervical misalignment is the cause of most illness, and this thinking pervades within upper cervical chiropractic education. Early in my career, it seemed reasonable for me experiment with this upper cervical chiropractic theory while I was perfecting my upper cervical corrective procedure. Intense focus upon perfecting the upper cervical spine corrective care helped me develop competency with the extremely difficult, scientific upper cervical diagnostic and treatment procedures. However, my clinical experience gave me undeniable evidence upper cervical spinal care alone was not enough to provide effective holistic healthcare and achieve consistent success with conditions like Fibromyalgia.
Patients receiving and maintaining perfect upper cervical spinal corrections were still demonstrating misalignments in the joints of their pelvis, so I began taking care of their pelvises. Then I discovered, even though the upper cervical spine and pelvis were returned to normal and stable function, patients still had lower neck, upper back and lower back vertebral misalignments. So, I began correcting abnormal spinal biomechanics of these lower spine areas.
My clinical experience demonstrates Fibromyalgia patients require correction of their upper cervical spine and pelvis to alleviate the massive mechanical, neurological, muscular, postural, and chemical stresses causing and complicating all the stressors which contribute to the global physical, mental and emotional breakdown that is Fibromyalgia. Among many other benefits, effective upper cervical and pelvis corrective procedures balance nerve supply to your body and therefore balance your muscle tone. These procedures level your pelvis and get your pelvis working properly. They establish the center of your pelvis and upper back onto your body’s actual center of gravity and balance the standing weight between the right and left sides of your body. Alignment of your core frame in this way establishes your natural frame of reference for the rest of your spine to move toward your natural center of gravity. Upper cervical and pelvis corrective care gives you your core “center”for providing the necessary structural foundation for your body; an axis of origin for powerfully strong and coordinated physical movement, and effective protection and functional enhancement for your brain and spinal cord.
After correcting your upper cervical spine and pelvis, solving your lower spine (lower neck, thorax and lumbar spine) joint mechanical abnormalities is the most important next step in your Fibromyalgia recovery. Spinal joint mechanical abnormalities are the abnormal relationships between individual spinal vertebra and the overall abnormal relationships between your entire spine and your body’s true center of gravity. Lower spine vertebral misalignments stress the joints between your vertebra.
Each lower spine vertebra has 6 joints. Four of these joints are facet joints. There are two facet joint pairs, one pair located on the top, and the other pair on the bottom, back side of your spine. The top facet joint pair of each lower spine vertebra joins with the bottom facet joint pair of the vertebra above it. Facet joints provide motion between vertebra necessary for your spine to bend forward and backward, side to side and rotate right and left. Facet joints also help provide structural support needed to keep your spine aligned.
Each vertebra has two intervertebral disc joints. The top and bottom of each vertebra join with intervertebral discs. These joints also provide spinal motion and spinal alignment. The jell-filled, fibrocartilage intervertebral discs also cushion your vertebra against shock and wear.
Spinal traumas may forcefully twist, side bend, forward bend or backward bend one or more spinal vertebra beyond its normal range of motion. This excessive vertebral motion damages the ligaments which keep your vertebra properly aligned and moving in harmony with each other. Excessive vertebral motion and resulting ligament damage cause your vertebra to become stuck in abnormal positional relationships with each other (subluxate or miss-align). Vertebral misalignments compress, stretch and tear ligaments holding facet joints and intervertebral discs together, and other ligaments holding the spinal vertebra in place. Vertebral misalignments compress and stretch your intervertebral discs. Persistent vertebral ligament and disc injuries cause spinal instability (excessive aberrant spinal motion, weakened capacity for spinal structural support and protection for vital nerves, vessels and organs), and the inflammation, degeneration and pain associated with degenerative arthritis.
Swelling caused by vertebral inflammation may encroach upon spinal nerves and blood vessels as they exit the spinal cord through openings on either side of your spine. These spinal nerves supply all parts of your body with vital information for control and regulation of all your body’s organs, systems and functions. Blood vessels passing through these spinal openings nourish your spine, spinal cord, brain and brain stem and remove metabolic waste from these structures.
Nerve encroachment causes nerve pain, tingling, numbness, weakness and it interferes with body control and regulation. Disc injury and stress may break down the external disc fibers responsible for maintaining disc strength and shape, causing bulging and rupturing of the disc’s jell-like nucleus onto your spinal cord and spinal nerve roots, causing nerve irritation and further nerve encroachment.
Long term joint inflammation destroys joint cartilage but also elevates your systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation is inflammation throughout your body. Systemic inflammation causes plaque formation in your artery walls and atherosclerosis. Inflammation in your gut causes malabsorption and leaky gut. Incompletely digested nutrients then leak through your leaky gut lining into your bloodstream. These “foreign invaders” drive your immune system crazy trying to fight them off. Your immune cells shoot inflammation causing histamine into your body, causing more inflammation and inflammation damage to the cells of your body, further stressing your immune system by forming food sensitivities, allergies, increased body fat…
Your brain senses your joint misalignment injuries and reacts to these injuries by stabilizing and protecting your injured joints. Joint mechanoreceptors located within your joint muscles, ligaments and tendons give vital sensory information (feedback) to your brain and nervous system in the form of pain, vibration, pressure, position, orientation, etc. Joint injuries damage these mechanoreceptors and cause the brains feedback from these injured joints to covey injury and pain. When your nervous system perceives these joint injuries it tries to protect the injured joint by contracting the joint’s stabilizer muscles and withdrawing the joint’s muscle activation, coordination and strength to stop or reduce the amount of work performed by these injured joints.
Long term muscle contraction drains your energy like when you leave your car headlights on all day and squeezes blood vessels and nerves which pass through these muscles, inhibiting circulation to your muscles and your skeleton. Decreased muscle and skeletal blood flow causes oxygen and nutrient starvation to these tissues, and waste product stagnation, toxicity, irritation, inflammation, poor nerve conductivity, increased body fat, osteoporosis, and pain.
To further protect your misaligned joints, your brain withdraws its nerve supply to your muscles. Your joint’s muscle fibers are taken offline from brain’s first string joint mover bank, reducing or removing the joint moving muscles from action. Brain muscle deactivation reduces joint workload and risk for injury, by inhibiting muscle strength and coordination. In its effort to protect your misaligned joints, your brain creates muscle tension and spasm, weakness, and dis-coordination.
Abnormal muscle control and activation combined with joint misalignment requires compensatory movement patterns to enable your body to continue functioning. Substitute, alternate muscles are recruited to move your joints, but these muscles lie outside the natural movement tracks which permit correct joint planes of motion. Muscles other than your primary joint mover muscles pull your joints off track.
Abnormal joint movement produces long term joint wear and tear, degenerates joint cartilage and tendons, deforms bone surfaces and shapes, causing inflammation and pain. Abnormal function in one joint affects multiple joint function throughout your body, causing generalized joint stress, wear and tear, degeneration and risk for acute injury.
All spinal joint misalignments and their consequences are either caused or exacerbated by the mechanical, neurological, muscular and postural abnormalities produced by upper cervical spinal misalignment. Mechanical misalignment of the joints between the top of your neck and the bottom of your head stresses the brain and spinal cord, causing overpowering nerve imbalance to the muscles throughout your body. Your muscle’s diffuse, distorted pattern of contraction pulls your entire spine into curves and rotations, moves your pelvis and upper back away from your center of gravity, and usually makes your body weight greater on one side than the other. The resulting joint stress becomes a fixed pattern for life unless the upper cervical spine alignment is returned to normal. All attempts to correct the curves and twists throughout your spine will be futile until objective, scientifically verifiable correction and maintenance of your upper cervical spinal biomechanics.
Once your nerves and muscles are balanced, and abnormal gravitational stress is removed from your body, it is possible, through lower spine manipulation and corrective exercise, to improve the way your spine supports your body, protects your nervous system and allows you to move normally.
Lower spine misalignment stress, with its resultant functional impairments, energy depletion and pain must be resolved for successful Fibromyalgia recovery, health and wellness. Successful lower spinal corrective care requires successful upper cervical spine corrective care. Ideally, these two procedures are provided in a holistic, functional, priority based, integrated manner by a single provider who fully understands your case and manages your care effectively.