Chiropractic Care For Fibromyalgia and Improved Sleep

What is Fibromyalgia?

Myalgia describes muscle aches and pain, which can involve ligaments, tendons and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones and organs.  Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain.

This pain regulation disorder is accompanied by fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive disturbances, and psychiatric symptoms. Fibromyalgia occurs in the background of multiple etiological factors. Genetic predisposition plays an integral role in the development of fibromyalgia. Approximately 6.4% of the world’s population suffers from fibromyalgia and its associated symptoms.

Sleep abnormalities not only serve as causative factors for fibromyalgia but also function as a driving force for exacerbation of the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Chiropractic care can help alleviate pain, improve associated symptoms, and promote good quality sleep in fibromyalgia patients.

Association Between Sleep Quality and Fibromyalgia 

Sleep has a dual association with the onset and severity of fibromyalgia. Sleep deprivation over prolonged periods in otherwise healthy individuals can cause fibromyalgia to develop and aggravate the symptoms of this pain regulation disorder – symptoms such as fatigue and joint tenderness.

Pain dysregulation in fibromyalgia is evident at three key stages of pain transmission: abnormal pain processing, abnormal ascending pain pathways, and abnormal descending pain inhibition pathways. Sleep disturbances are associated with these pain circuits. Sleep impairment can be characterised by nocturnal restlessness, non-refreshing, light sleep, frequent awakenings, and involuntary leg movements during sleep.

Polysomnography tests in fibromyalgia patients demonstrate a significant reduction in the duration of short-wave sleep that reflects impaired sleep homeostasis. Moreover, polysomnography studies in these patients also reveal frontal localisation of alpha frequency waves that represents an awakening state. This phenomenon is known as an alpha intrusion. Sleep abnormalities also include decreased stage 2 sleep spindles and a rise in the frequency of stage shifts.  

Sleep disturbances can affect pain-processing pathways at different levels. Research studies reveal that sleep deprivation can lead to a significant impairment of pain-inhibition pathways.. This not only increases pain sensitivity but also the sensitivity of an individual to non-painful stimuli. Sleep quality is influenced by a wide variety of factors. While genetic susceptibility is a non-modifiable factor, disorders or conditions that are responsible for causing sleep disturbances include depression, anxiety, pain, sleep apnoea, diet/food intake, mineral deficiencies, caffeine, alcohol, drugs/medication, jet lag, light and noise.

Just as nonrestorative sleep disorders can lead to the onset of widespread pain such as in fibromyalgia, the restoration of sleep and improvement in the quality and duration of sleep can significantly improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Chiropractic care for fibromyalgia is targeted at both pain management and improvement of sleep quality.

How Does Chiropractic Improve Fibromyalgia and Sleep Quality?

Chiropractic focuses on spinal adjustments to treat a variety of musculoskeletal and/or neurological disorders. The chiropractic management of fibromyalgia involves manipulation of the vertebral column, passive stretching, and soft tissue therapy. It also includes standardised compression of ischemia or tender points present on the neck and back of the fibromyalgia patients. Pressure is applied via the thumb and increased to the point where the patient reacts to it. Then this pressure is applied for a duration of 10 seconds at each tender point.

Spinal adjustment involves high-velocity thrusts of short-lever and low-amplitude. The patient is required to lie down in a supine position during cervical adjustment of the spine whereas thoracic adjustment of the spine is performed in the prone position. Lastly, lumbar adjustments of the spine are performed on patients in lateral decubitus positions. Before applying thrusts, these target points are evaluated via static and motion palpation.

Spinal adjustments restore the normal function of pain processing without the use of any medications and invasive procedures that are often associated with adverse effects and complications. By alleviating much of the pain felt by the patient, chiropractic adjustments help improve the quality of the patient’s sleep, thus improving the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, the most notable of which is pain. Good quality sleep is also beneficial for managing psychological conditions like depression, stress, and anxiety.

Fibromyalgia patients treated via chiropractic adjustments report improved myalgia scores, range of movement at cervical and lumbar levels, quality of sleep, and psychological status.   


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) techniques are gaining immense recognition and acceptance for the treatment of a myriad of health conditions without eliciting severe complications and side effects. Chiropractic adjustment improves the neural transmission of pain and pain inhibition signals as well as targets ischemia points to alleviate associated pain.

Call Clinic 27 today to discuss your health concerns with one of our chiropractors. We are committed to helping you achieve better results, faster.




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