Fibromyalgia Facts, Chiropractic and Myofascial Therapy


In 1986, Fibromyalgia (FMS) patients evaluated chiropractic care via a ‘questionnaire study’, as being more successful than  prescribed medication.(1) Follow-up survey figures in 1991 supported the earlier findings.(2) An additional study demonstrated that chiropractors were amongst the alternative health practitioners that FMS (Fibromyalgia Syndrome) patients most frequently used.(3) Myofascial or deep tissue massage has also been a popular treatment.

Supplementary studies propose that spinal manipulation (chiropractic adjustments) and myofascial therapy (myofascial release) improved some of the FMS patients’ symptoms, especially the most prolific symptom- pain.(4,5) And in yet another controlled study, para-spinal soft-tissue massage along with chiropractic spinal manipulation worked to increase FMS patients’ general sense of well-being.(6)

Other studies, though, suggest that the long-term use of spinal manipulation does not measurably improve the pain and functional impairment of FMS patients.(7-9)


These reports are why I do not use spinal manipulation as the sole modality to treat Fibromyalgia in my Denver chiropractors clinic. Contrarily, these reports are one of the reasons I sometimes do.  Treatment plans must be customized to the individual. Spinal manipulation is a tool. Myofascial release is a tool and tools should be used accordingly, based on a fluctuating number of individual factors. In my clinical experience, Fibromyalgia patients who receive too much spinal manipulation or too aggressive spinal manipulation may actually react adversely and get worse. I’ve have found that most Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue patients need metabolic rehabilitation as well as neurological relief.

Most suffer from what I call “Nerve Exhaustion.”

The fact is that spinal manipulation and deep tissue therapy may offer mild-to-moderate but temporary pain relief. Most patients achieve long-term reprieve from pain and additional symptoms only when they go through comprehensive metabolic and neurological treatment and physical rehabilitation.

1. Wolfe, F, Smythe, HA, Yunus, MB, et al. The American College of Rheumatology 1990

criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia: report of the multicenter criteria committee.

Arthritis Rheumatism 1990; 33:160-172.

2. Pioro-Boisset M, Esdaile JM, and Fitzcharles MA: Alternative medicine use in fibromyalgia

syndrome. Arthritis Care Res 1996; 9(1):13-17.

3. Wolfe F. The clinical syndrome of fibrositis. Am J Med 1986; 81(suppl 3A):7-14. 35. Wolfe

F. Personal communication, March 8, 1991.

4. Blunt, K.L., Rajwani, M.H., and Guerriero, R.C.: The effectiveness of chiropractic

management of fibromyalgia patients: a pilot study. J Manip Physiol Ther 1997; 20(6):389-399.

5. Hains G, and Hains F. A combined ischemic compression and spinal manipulation in the

treatment of fibromyalgia: A preliminary estimate of dose and efficacy. J Manip Physiol Ther

2000; 23(4):225-230.

6. Backstrom G and Rubin BR. When Muscle Pain Won’t Go Away. Dallas: Taylor Publishing

Company, 1992.

7. Dimmock S, Troughton PR, and Bird HA. Factors predisposing to the resort of

complementary therapies in patients with fibromyalgia. Clin Rheumatol 1996; 15(5):478-482.

8. Jacobs JW, Rasker JJ, Van Riel PL, Gridnau FW, and van de Putte LB. Alternative treatment

methods in rheumatic diseases: a literature review. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 1991; 135(8):317-


9. Fitzcharles MA and Esdaile JM. Nonphysician practitioner treatments and fibromyalgia

syndrome. J Rheumatol 1997; 24(5):937-940

Posted from Newtown, Pennsylvania, United States.

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Ron Spallone

Dr. Ron Spallone, DC is the chiropractic clinic director. His passion is the driving force behind Denver Chiropractor dot com. He's been a Colorado chiropractor for over 15 years.

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