- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Brainstem Treatment of Fibromyalgia & Migraines that Works
In 1987, the American Medical Association recognized Fibromyalgia, or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), as a true physical illness and major cause of disability. A person with FMS will have pain above and below the waist and on both sides of the body—changing its location from day to day—that has lasted for three months or more.
My Own Case of FMS
I have been suffering from FMS for over 30 years, which began after an auto accident. My pain level would often vary between an 8 and 10, with 0 being no pain at all and 10 being very severe pain. It would be worse in the morning and after lunch I would have to rest for an hour or two. By early evening I was completely exhausted. Any type of bending or sitting or reaching or physical work would aggravate my condition. The pain stemmed from the neck and then radiated into the shoulders and down into my arms. My lower back pain would radiate down my legs. When under severe stress, I would experience severe migraine headaches. All of these symptoms left me unable to sleep much, resulting in a sharp drop in my energy level.
Fibromyalgia - the invisible illness
Numerous chiropractors have treated me over several decades and I have been on special nutritional diets requiring me to eliminate specific foods in order to try to alleviate some of my pain. One chiropractor told me he could no longer be of help as I had a soft-tissue problem; not skeletal. So I resigned myself to trying many different types of supplements. The most relief was provided some by taking ibuprofen, large doses of magnesium and an amino acid supplement (that I explain in another article). Though this brought my severe pain down some, my condition continued to worsen.
When my current chiropractor examined me several months ago, x-rays showed marked decay of my lower lumbar vertebra and the same in my low cervical—my neck. I had very little ability to pivot or turn those areas of the spine to the left or right, and both had lost the normal natural arching curve.
Kentucky Gov. Beshear's May 12 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day Proclamation
Symptoms of FMS
Pain throughout the entire body—the most prominent symptom of FMS—is not caused by inflammation. Taking arthritis medication will not help. One day it is in the shoulder, but tomorrow it may be in a foot, or is even gone. It is like a charley horse you have in your leg but that is all over your body. The body is literally knot-filled.
Sleep deprivation and fatigue
Most people with FMS experience moderate to severe fatigue and it does not merely leave one tired, but often in a state of exhaustion—the kind that results from the flu or lack of sleep—and usually results in chronic fatigue. At times, the fatigue is more of a problem than the pain. The person may also suffer from mental fatigue, in which they feel they are in a type of “brain fog,” often called fibrofog.
Migraine headaches are of two categories; classical and common. The classical migraine will have an aura of flashes of light, squiggly lines or a halo effect. The intense pain of either type feels like a spike being driven through the head.
Sensitivity to bright sunlight, loud or high-pitched noises and odors; like it can be hard having the drapes suddenly opened or to listening to a child scream. They experience increased warmth, increased sweating and cannot stand heat or humidity. The skin and circulation can be sensitive to temperature changes, resulting in change in skin color. They may shake uncontrollably when it's cold. They don't tolerate cold, either. The ‘internal thermostat’ is broken.
Irregular heart rate
Heart palpitations,arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rate
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which includes abdominal pain, bloating, alternating constipation and diarrhea
Frequency of urination
The person is unable to completely void the urine, both increasing the frequency of the urge and bacterial or urinary tract infections (UTIs).
An FMS person may be fat or skinny. Either way, it is not by choice. Their appestat is broken—the area in the brain that is believed to regulate appetite and food intake.
Book by Dr. Michael Johnson
Over-firing of the Brainstem
Chiropractor neurologists, like Dr. Michael Johnson, report that in every case of FMS they have treated they find a high output of the upper brainstem, the mesencephalon. All these symptoms listed above that FMS patients experience are classic signs that the upper brainstem is over-firing. The system that should normally slow down the upper brainstem fails to do so.
Upper Brainstem is the widest section of the part in red
Peace & Calming is a gentle, fragrant blend of five oils specially designed for diffusing; Tangerine (Citrus nobilis), orange (Citrus sinensis), ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), patchouly (Pogostemon cablin) and blue tansy (Tanacetum annuum). It promotes relaxation and a deep sense of peace, helping to calm tensions and uplift spirits. Within 10 minutes of application, my fibrofog starts clearing!
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most versatile of all essential oils. It has been clinically evaluated for its relaxing effects. The fragrance is calming, relaxing and balancing -- physically and emotionally. (It may be used to cleanse cuts, bruises and skin irritations.)
Over-firing of the brainstem down the spinal cord causes a release of chemicals into the bloodstream that stimulates pain fibers. This is why the person feels pain all over; in the left leg one day, in the right shoulder the next, and mid-back pain with a headache the day after that.
Sleep deprivation and fatigue
The upper brainstem also controls sleep patterns; you are awake when it is firing at a very high rate and you are asleep when it is firing at a very low rate. When the upper brainstem is over-firing, this will happen even in the middle of the night when normally it should be firing the least, waking the sufferer at times with a migraine.
In a person with a migraine, like those with FMS, the system that should normally slow down the upper brainstem fails to do so. The upper brainstem then fires at a very high rate.
Nerves that are based in the upper brainstem allow the pupil to constrict but when the nerve is not firing properly, the pupil dilates and the person is then sensitive to light.
Irregular heart rate
The abnormal or over-firing of the upper brainstem can cause a change in the heart rate, resulting in heart palpitations. Generally, a decreased firing of the right brain can increase the heart rate, and a decreased of firing of the left brain can cause arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rate.
Light sensitivity, increased warmth or sweating, inability to sleep, increased heart rate, IBS and UTI, etc. are all classic signs along with pain and fatigue that the upper brainstem is overfiring and not slowed down in the normal way.
New research shows that a major cause of FMS is an electrical imbalance between the two sides of the brain. This is actually called the Functional Disconnection Syndrome (or F.D.S.). The brain and nervous system has become sensitized, resulting in producing more pain than normal.
Our brain and nervous system need two things:
Fuel —The brain of an FMS sufferer also needs the fuel of blood sugar, or glucose, and oxygen. Glucose comes from the foods we eat, but needs to be without blood sugar swings or excessive blood sugar. Over-eating of sugar and high carbohydrate foods makes too much cortisol, resulting in the fibrofog. When glucose and insulin become too high it’s toxic to your nerves and actually destroys them.
- Activation—The brain is a bunch of muscles. They all have different jobs. If they’re not activated and stimulated, they get weak. Part of the problem in FMS is that parts of the brain have become weak. The weak area needs to be stimulated so the whole brain works normally.
- Natural Treatments for Fibromyalgia: Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy, Methylsulfonylmethane Treatment and
Stimulating the immune system is the most important treatment for fibromyalgia. Increasing oxygen is the first step.
Activation and Oxygen for the brain
The chiropractor neurologist can slow the upper brainstem output. Often the spinal adjustments are done gently and only on the side of the spine and neck opposite of the weak side of the brain to stimulate brain function. Once this happens, the migraine headaches disappear and other FMS symptoms diminish, to which I can personally testify!
Oxygen intake is increased with a properly aligned spine and glucose is managed through diet. I find, also, that when I sense a migraine coming on I can concentrate on deep breathing for several minutes and avoid such flare ups.
To find a chiropractor neurologist near you, go to the Chiropractor Neurology Board website. Dr. Johnson says in his book to make sure the chiropractor neurologist you choose is “Carrick-trained.”
© 2011 Deidre Shelden