Fibromyalgia Secrets Doctors Are Not Telling YouSep 30, 2011 12:48PM ● By Dr. Scott Bender
Some call it the “invisible disease.” Medical opinions are as varied as the symptoms themselves. Doctors are baffled by it. Some don’t even acknowledge that such a condition really exists, while others shamelessly write it off as a “psychological” disorder. It’s Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is different from other conditions. Years of suffering pain, fatigue and depression can strip a patient of the will to fight Fibromyalgia. To many, it is a mysterious, recently discovered condition too often treated with antidepressants, pain and sleeping pills, and medication designed for suppressing seizures and convulsions. Fibromyalgia is too often “treated” by prescribing Lyrica, Savella or Cymbalta, but will the patient be any healthier? Will the causes of the terrible symptoms be addressed?
Is It Really So Mysterious?
Could it be that many different symptoms caused by many different causes are being lumped together under the banner of Fibromyalgia? No single cause of Fibromyalgia has been agreed upon by medical research scientists anywhere in the world.
Like many doctors, I disagree with the guidelines used for arriving at the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. The American College of Rheumatology’s definition is based on symptoms of “widespread pain” throughout the body and “pain in 11 of 18 tender point sites.” In my opinion, these simplistic criteria are weak at best, leading to tremendous over-diagnosis and misdiagnosis. Further testimony to this is the fact that there is not a single scientifically proven diagnostic test for Fibromyalgia. Yet the diagnosis is still given with reckless abandon—along with liberally flowing prescriptions for the latest drug the FDA approves.
Start by Questioning the Word
The word “Fibromyalgia” is itself highly questionable. Its Latin and Greek roots come from “fibro,” meaning fibrous, “myo,” meaning muscle, and “algia,” which means pain. Put together, it means pain of the fibrous and muscle tissues. Of course this is a pitifully inaccurate description, considering the wide variety of symptoms beyond mere “fibrous muscle pain.” Those who suffer from such symptoms as chronic fatigue, intolerance to exercise, sleep disorders, headaches, depression, anxiety, skin problems, weather sensitivity, numbness or tingling, restless legs, digestive problems, and so on, clearly have much more than a mere muscle problem!
In treating people—that is people, not the disease—I’ve found no two Fibromyalgia patients whose symptoms have the same causes. Sometimes the causes are radically different, which is why it’s important to take the time to investigate. I prefer an integrative medical approach in my practice, utilizing various modalities that are considered “complementary and alternative.” It’s worth re-evaluating those terms for a moment, along with the common use of the term “conventional” to describe treatment and testing. Conventional means only that it’s accepted by the mainstream, that it’s popular, not that it’s in any way superior. Similarly, let’s re-consider “complementary and alternative.” Complementary and alternative to what? To ineffective treatment? And when conventional treatment calls for trying another drug, couldn’t that be considered using an alternative?
We should ensure that these common terms do not lessen the effectiveness of the theories and methods I’m about to describe.
The First Hidden Cause of Fibromyalgia
I have found there are many possible causes for what is commonly diagnosed as Fibromyalgia... and they must all be considered, with each patient evaluated thoroughly and according to their individual needs. One of the possible causes discovered by a growing number of enlightened physicians and researchers is structural upper neck imbalances. The greatest concentration of nerve connections in the human body is at the upper neck. Misalignment of the bones (Atlas and Axis vertebra) can result in nerve compression, which can affect the entire nervous system, and therefore, the whole body.
Various research has focused attention on the neurological conditions involving such compression of the brain stem or upper portion of the spinal cord, with the University of Kansas School of Medicine and Arthritis Research Center studying the relationship between neck injury and Fibromyalgia. The conclusion of this study of 161 cases revealed that Fibromyalgia occurred 13 times more frequently following neck injury, compared to injury to other areas of the body.
This condition’s official name is Upper Cervical Stenosis (UCS). Though it is a subtle condition, and therefore too rarely considered or diagnosed, this nearly imperceptible narrowing of the spinal canal can literally choke the spinal cord area. It may be present as early as childhood, but various painful symptoms may take years, or even decades to develop before nerve compression becomes severe, through age-related spinal degeneration or spinal trauma.
Many of my fellow upper neck specialists also report the vast majority of their Fibromyalgia patients as having had histories of neck injury as many as 20 years prior to the onset of their symptoms. A good number of my patients, diagnosed with Fibromyalgia by other physicians, had no problems prior to their neck injuries. Yet, because they did not recover from their injuries in a timely manner, and developed more symptoms without ever receiving effective treatment, they were told that “Fibromyalgia” was the cause of their suffering.
The Non-invasive Treatment
I am certain, then, that the UCS neck imbalance is the most common and significant possible cause of Fibromyalgia to consider, along with chemical and other factors. The good news is that UCS can be treated non-surgically, with the Atlas Orthogonal procedure (AO), performed with a sound wave instrument, a procedure that is able to detect and treat miniscule physical imbalances between the skull and upper neck vertebrae. AO is a safe, painless, and non-invasive method that reduces the “choking” effect on the spinal cord. This reduces the stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal, which in turn, reduces the pressure on the spinal cord/brain stem region, the meninges, as well as blood vessels, to restore normal function.
Second Possible Hidden Cause
I have also helped many people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia—and “treated” with every drug on the market—who were actually suffering from chronic Lyme disease all along. I have no doubt that there are millions of such people. It’s well known that Lyme disease blood tests frequently come up falsely negative—and the patient may not recall ever being bitten by a tick— but this tremendously underdiagnosed, complex condition, triggered by a bacteria, may actually be one of the causes of Fibromyalgia.
Both upper neck problems and chronic Lyme disease must be considered when evaluating and treating people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Of course, treatments vary according to the findings. My most commonly used approaches include: Atlas Orthogonal, Complex Homeopathy and Ear Acupuncture (Auricular Therapy). I also recommend that patients familiarize themselves with Bio-energetic Testing, which has enabled me to help many people by detecting problems that conventional medical testing cannot determine, as well as predicting the most effective treatments.
Most people who’ve consulted with me have been in pain on average 10 years, and have spent a small fortune in medical care—with terrible results. It’s through them that I have come to understand how hard it is to keep trying, when giving up actually seems easier.
I’ve been privileged to successfully treat some of the most “hopeless” cases you can imagine, encouraged by the ingenious research that has uncovered the two hidden causes I’ve mentioned, along with effective treatments for Fibromyalgia that so many have yet to discover. As my patients and I have discovered together, there is indeed hope on the horizon for Fibromyalgia’s many sufferers.
Dr. Scott Bender, DC has successfully treated hundreds of patients with Fibromayalgia and severe chronic pain. He is the director of Connecticut Spine and Health Center in Stamford, located at 111 High Ridge Road. For more information contact his office at 203.967.8888 or visit ConnecticutSpineAndHealth.com.