To Get Adjusted, or Not to Get Adjusted?

Thursday, March 4, 2004

By: Elisabeth Deffner

Reprinted from FMOnline


Chiropractic manipulation is often suggested as a treatment for fibromyalgia pain—and almost as often warned against. What’s a fibromyalgia patient to do?

Here we take a look at some studies that have investigated the value of chiropractic as a treatment for FM. Before making your final decision about undertaking chiropractic treatments, talk with other FM patients, and check with your primary healthcare provider. And talk to your potential chiropractor before undergoing treatment. Be sure he or she understands fibromyalgia, and find out if he or she has treated other people with FM.

The Studies
In 1985, renowned fibromyalgia researcher Dr. Frederick Wolfe, et al, administered a structured questionnaire to 81 FM patients and 81 control subjects. They found that patients benefit more from lifestyle modifications, like rest and relaxation, than from other interventions. “Chiropractic treatment also scored among the most effective measures,” he wrote.

In a personal communication with chiropractor John C. Lowe, Wolfe pointed out that patients said they found chiropractic effective; whether or not it was actually effective in easing their FM symptoms is another story.

In a study from a private chiropractic practice in Quebec, Canada, FM patients undertook 30 treatments combining ischemic compression and spinal manipulation. At the midway point, participants reported a significant lessening of pain and an improvement in quality of sleep and fatigue level. After 30 treatments, respondents showed an average lessening of 77.2 in pain intensity, improvement of 63.5 in sleep quality, and improvement of 74.8 in fatigue level.

A pilot study also from Canada (Ontario) found that spinal manipulation, soft tissue therapy, and passive stretching improved patients’ cervical and lumbar ranges of motion, straight leg raise, and reported pain levels. The investigators concluded that further study with a larger sample size could better determine if these results are applicable to FM patients on the whole. Chiropractic has not been studied extensively as a treatment for FM, so further study is definitely needed.

So: to get manipulated, or not to get manipulated? According to researchers, chiropractic manipulation can be helpful for people with FM—but you know your body best. Weigh your options, and maybe you’ll find that chiropractic is something you’d like to try.