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September 27, 2021

Health Update
Fibromyalgia And Your Upper Neck
by Eric Ellingson, DC

Eric Ellingson, DC - Durham, NC - How can a spinal problem possibly contribute to your fibromyalgia symptoms? As with many disorders, especially pain, the nervous system is involved. The nervous system can get affected thorough structural changes in the spinal column. The classic one is the disk bulge producing a painful sciatic nerve. But, there are also other ways to interfere with the function of nervous system.

When viewing the neck from the side, there should be a forward curve with your head above your shoulders, not in front of them. When forward head carriage is present or when there is a reduction in this forward arch, this may cause additional strain to the upper cervical spine or spinal cord, allowing delicate nerves to be compromised. Chiropractic care should improve your posture if this forward head carriage is present.

The upper neck can also be influenced by malalignment/subluxation of the upper vertebrae, such as the atlas. This small bone supports the weight of the skull and is necessary for the great rotational range of motion of the neck.

During neck trauma, the head and neck can be put through a violent range of motion that causes the soft tissues (muscles and ligaments) to tear. Blows to the head, childhood or sports injuries and even poor sleeping posture, can cause the upper neck vertebrae to displace, injuring the soft tissues of the joint. Swelling and inflammation can also be a source of irritation to the nervous system. Scar tissue can develop after trauma, which may affect the precise movements of the upper neck.

The atlas surrounds the spinal cord and as it displaces, it can also pull or tether the spinal cord through attachments of delicate ligaments (dentate). This could cause irritation to the nervous system.

The disorders of poor posture and displaced vertebrae can be assessed through x-rays. Range of motion tests are necessary to see how your function may be affected. In some patients, fibromyalgia symptoms can improve substantially. However, most people will need a comprehensive approach that also incorporates an exercise program and nutritional or weight loss support. Chiropractic care is a natural alternative for those who wish a drug-free and non-invasive approach. It carries few risks of side effects and is balanced by the potential to help patients who also have spinal disorders contributing to their poor health.



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