Fibromyalgia Relief with Soft Tissue Therapy
Sep 01, 2017 12:59PM
by Eric Winder, DC
In my practice, I treat many fibromyalgia patients with high rates of successful relief. However, twenty years ago, when I first entered practice, helping these patients was difficult and often filled with frustration. Little was known about the cause of this condition, and I had not yet discovered some important tools for relieving the associated pain.
It turned out that fascia release therapies can dramatically improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Fascia, the body’s fibrous connective tissue, is rich with nerve endings for both pain and position sense. Recent research on fibromyalgia shows it is a problem of the nervous system. Because fascial distortion and restriction can aggravate the nervous system in unusual ways, it makes sense there could be a connection between fascia restrictions and fibromyalgia pain. This is, in fact, what I have seen in my practice.
For example, last week a patient I’ll call Stephanie reported that a few treatments at our office had decreased her average pain level by 80 percent. She was sleeping more restfully (sleep quality is a common issue in fibromyalgia), and was particularly satisfied with her ability to be more active. In fact, she had new muscle soreness because she was gardening and doing yard work which she had not been able to tolerate for several years.
Yes, Fibromyalgia is Real
While fibromyalgia is still a medical mystery, we now have concrete evidence pointing to possible causes. These patients typically have brain scans that show altered pain processing in the central nervous system. Also, some groups of patients have fewer opioid nerve receptors in their brains, and the ones they do have respond differently, helping to explain why pain medications often have little effect on fibromyalgia pain.
Just recently, a study was published showing that women with fibromyalgia have a higher number of one type of sympathetic nerve receptor in the capillaries of their hands. This could be why fibromyalgia sufferers often have painful hands. Also, these nerve endings help to control the release of excess body heat though the hands and feet, and there could be altered temperature regulation as a result of the extra nerve endings. This might explain the reason many people with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to cold temperatures.
While it is promising that research is beginning to better explain fibromyalgia, what matters most is finding a successful treatment. In addition to fascia release therapies, dietary changes, nutritional support and specific kinds of exercise can be helpful for many sufferers. In my practice, I generally find that fibromyalgia patients fall into one of three categories.
Physical Trauma Onset
Many people with a fibromyalgia diagnosis fit the medical criteria for the specific number of painful areas and general whole-body pain, but do not strongly experience many of the other classic fibromyalgia symptoms. I their pain is more on one side of the body, or they have few problems with sleep disturbance or short-term memory issues, their pain might actually be caused by fascial restriction, and its irritating effect on the nervous system.
These restrictions are typically caused by past physical injury. For some, the result could be from multiple small injuries and physical stresses over a lifetime. For others, there might be a single precipitating event such as a serious fall or car accident. People in this category usually have an excellent response to fascial therapies and therapeutic exercise. Pain can often be improved 80–100 percent with proper treatment.
Those in this category have numerous painful points and overall body pain of the first group, and the pain is usually equal on both sides of the body. In addition, they have the classic traits of poor sleep quality, frequent mental fog and short-term memory challenges. Also, their symptoms tend to either increase or fade from day-to-day without any obvious cause.
Fascial therapies usually give significant help to people in this group, despite a deeper-seated problem in how their nervous system processes pain. Long-term pain relief of 40–60 percent usually results from similar treatments to those of the first group. In addition, dietary changes and nutritional support to decrease inflammation can be helpful for these patients.
Fibromyalgia is common in people who have frequent exposure to chemical dyes and other toxic substances. Over the years, I have treated many hairstylists for fibromyalgia and also one woman who worked for a hair product supplier. While fascial therapies have been helpful for these patients, they (and others with similar chemical exposures) typically need consultation with a healthcare practitioner experienced in nutritional support and detoxification. With careful guidance and patience, toxic fibromyalgia symptoms can be greatly relieved.
In the future, we can hope that research will give more answers to the problem of fibromyalgia. Fortunately, we have beneficial tools right now to help relieve the symptoms of this common problem. Fascial therapies are an important starting point for treatment, with exercise and nutritional support also potentially important, depending on the individual.
For more information on fibromyalgia and fascia release therapies, I invite you to attend an evening program September 27, where you can learn in-depth about fibromyalgia and fascia therapies. I will discuss case examples, provide a treatment demonstration and hold a Q&A session following the presentation. Attendees are invited to arrive at 6:45 p.m. for refreshments, and the program itself will take place from 7–8 p.m.
This event is located at 3131 S Tamiami Trail, #102, Sarasota. To register, call 941-957-8390. Dr. Winder’s practice focuses on relieving pain and restoring alignment and motion through soft tissue therapies, without forceful manipulation. For more information, visit GentleBay.com.