Fibromyalgia and Cord Compression?

Fibromyalgia is a difficult problem to diagnose or determine its cause. Since exercises, diet, and weight loss can be so helpful to fibromyalgia patients, we may think they can completely solve the problem.

Chiropractors recognize the importance of good spinal posture in affecting a variety of health problems, including fibromyalgia. It's important to not think of the disease as having a single solution, but rather as a more complex entity, needing a comprehensive approach. But is there any research on the spine being involved in patients with fibromyalgia?

Recent research (Holman AJ. Positional cervical spinal cord compression and fibromyalgia: a novel comorbidity with important diagnostic and treatment implications. J Pain 2008; May 20 epub.) has looked into a specific problem seen in fibromyalgia patients: spinal cord compression. The scientist took MRIs of fibromyalgia patients with the neck in different positions such as max forward and backward bend. These positions can show the spinal cord is compressed/pinched where a neutrally positioned MRI or CT scan may not. In the study, 71% of patients with fibromyalgia had positional cervical spinal cord compression.

So what does this mean? It means if you have fibromyalgia there may be an undetected cervical compression problem that may also be affecting you.

Good neck posture and mobility are keys to good health. We can diagnose your condition and see if there is a spinal component to your problem that may have been overlooked. Sometimes it's the low back pain that keeps us from exercising and ultimately getting rid of the fibromyalgia-inactivity-pain cycle. And, as the research above suggests, maybe the problem is in the neck and this needs to be addressed in a specific and comprehensive manner. Sometimes immobility in one area of the spine is compensated for in another, which can make your ability to heal somewhat lessened. Maybe the neck has been a concern of yours for a long time since the fibromyalgia symptoms came on following a neck trauma such as a whiplash. If you also suffer from headaches and have spinal pain, these are important clues that some of your symptoms may be spinally related.

It's important to view your fibromyalgia symptoms from a global perspective, and not just think of one isolated issue as the root cause, and the only place where treatment needs to be directed.