Decoding Fibromyalgia & Fibro Treatment - chiropracticforward Decoding Fibromyalgia & Fibro Treatment - chiropracticforward

CF 088: Decoding Fibromyalgia & Fibro Treatment

Today we’re going to talk all about fibromyalgia. How many patients come to you diagnosed with Fibromyalgia? I don’t know about you but I have a lot of them in my practice. How much do you know? What are the treatment recommendations? What’s the cause? 

Chiropractic evidence-based products
Integrating Chiropractors
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.22-AM-150x55.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.33-AM-150x55.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.09-AM-150x55.jpg

OK, we are back with some important information to make you better which makes your patients better. Welcome to the podcast today, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic   Forward podcast.  

You did the hippy hippy shake into Episode #88. does everyone remember that song from the 80s or 90s or whenever the hell that was? 

We can’t get started without mentioning the sponsor of the first half of our show, 

Let’s talk about GoChiroTV.  GoChiroTV is a patient education system for your office that saves you money by eliminating the need for running cable TV or looping the same DVDs over and over again in your waiting room. The bite-sized videos are specifically made to inform your patients about the importance of chiropractic and healthy living and to encourage referrals while presenting the benefits of all of the different products and services you offer.

It works by using a tailor-fit video playlist that only promotes the products and services available in your specific practice. Not only that but the videos are replaced automatically on a weekly basis so there’s no need to manually update your playlist or learn any complicated software. You truly can just set it and forget it. And don’t we busy doctors need just that?

Listeners of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast can use the promo code CFP19 at checkout to get 15% off all subscriptions. That’s CFP19, which also comes with a 45-day free trial to see if it’s right for your practice. Your discounted rate will be locked in for as long as you have a subscription.

Go visit to check out the demo reels and get started on your free trial.

I just signed up to be at the Forward ’19 event in St. Louis from September 20-22. I’ve been in the FTCA group and a member of the website for some time so it’ll be good to see these folks in person, put some voices to the faces, and learn some good stuff. 

Remember, 10%. 10% better every day, every month, every year. I’ve completed the DACO coursework but trust me, I’m nowhere near knowing it all. Continually attending events like this is the right step toward excellence though. I feel pretty confident in saying that. 

If you want to be at the event, go to and get yourself signed up. It should be a good return on investment if my information is correct. 

No, I don’t have a secret code, I’m not paid to tell you about the event. It’s just that Forward ’19 is an evidence-informed conference and as a person that considers themselves evidence-informed, I feel like it my duty to an extent to make sure you all know about these things. It is on me to promote evidence-informed events when and if I know about them. 

Before we get into any research on Fibro, for the newbies in the crowd, let’s define fibro shall we? According to the Mayo Clinic website it as follows:

“Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.”

Alright, that’s a good start right there and, if you listened to our free two-part masterclass episodes with Dr. Anthony Nicholson called Decoding Chronic Pain, if you listened to those, you heard a lot about a sensitized or up-regulated central nervous system. Those were episodes 79 and 80 and they are priceless if you are interested in solving the chronic pain enigma. I’m linking them in the show notes. GO LISTEN. Make yourself better. 

Fibromyalgia is thought to be another consequence of this sensitized, up-regulated central nervous system we have discussed so many times here.  

A combination of things are playing a part but, in general, there are five main elements to the causation of Fibro


  1. There is a familial and genetic predisposition – family members of fibro patients have an 8 fold increased risk
  2. There are environmental stressors acting as triggers – such as physical trauma, psychological and emotional stress, and even infections. 
  3. There is dysfunction of the hypothalamic pituitary axis and autonomic nervous system
  4. There are functional impairments in pain and sensory processing
  5. There are cognitive, behavioral and psychological impairments

According to Dr. Anthony Nicholson from the CDI DACO program, It is a brain that has essentially switched into over-protective mode and now remains caught in that state. 

He goes on to say, “Consider the clinical landscape for a moment…

Chiropractors see patients with painful movement machinery and diagnose functional M/S disorders; Gastroenterologists see this same class of patients and diagnose functional bowel disorders and non-ulcer dyspepsia; dentists diagnose functional TMJ disorders, urologists are confronted with unexplained pelvic pain, vulvodynia and irritable bladder; and neurologists evaluate unexplained facial pain and chronic headache.  

And if all of these conditions could be due to central nervous system dysfunction, it could explain why we see all of them respond together to a management approach that is able to switch this hyper-vigilant central neurology back to a more normal level of sensory interpretation.  

And could it be that that reduces the abnormal motor and autonomic behaviors that are driven by a brain that perceives the body to be in danger or under threat?“

Some of the biggies on the differential diagnosis list are

  • hypothyroidism
  • anemia
  • diabetes
  • and undiagnosed cancer

Also middle aged women are the most likely to have fibro so you’ll want to explore 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • and Polymyalgia Rheumatica 

Luckily Perrot, et. al. came up with a hell of a screening tool. In fact they found that a positive answer to more than 5 of the following 6 questions had a sensitivity of 90.5% and a specificity of 85.7% when differentiating Fibro from other conditions like RA, ankylosing spondylitis and osteoarthritis. 

Would you like to know the questions? Well of course you would. Here they are

  1. I have pain all over my body
  2. My pain is accompanied by continuous and very unpleasant general fatigue
  3. My pain feels like burns, electric shocks or cramps
  4. My pain is accompanied by other unusual sensations throughout my body, such as pins and needles, tingling or numbness
  5. My pain is accompanied by other health problems such as digestive problems, urinary problems, headaches or restless legs
  6. My pain has a significant impact on my life, particularly on my sleep and my ability to concentrate, making me feel slower generally

A key part to getting these patients well again is to get their brains to un-learn that movement is painful. Introducing the fact that movement doesn’t necessarily hurt can be done through nice, gentle adjustments wouldn’t you agree? When you think about it?

Understanding the difference between hurt and harm. Sometimes, we need these people moving whether it hurts a bit or not and, as confidence, strength, and ability increases, you’ll see they have un-learned that movement is bad and that it hurts. 

One of the biggest things with fibro patients is understanding that they just don’t inhibit pain very well. 

A point of particular interest here is that Evidence suggests that opioid pathways are normal or even increased in activity, which probably explains why opioids are generally ineffective analgesics in these patients

On the other hand, serotonin and noradrenalin systems are under-active, which explains why most compounds that raise both serotonin and noradrenalin (such as tricyclic antidepressants, duloxetine and tramadol) have been shown to be effective in controlling symptoms in FM patients.

I’m not going to pretend to be a genius here. This is all info from my DACO learning and Dr.s Anthony Nicholson and Matthew Long with CDI in Australia. THEY really are the geniuses in my opinion. 

They say, “a useful approach with patients be to encourage exercise to stimulate her CNS system but avoid activities that are too intense as this may sensitize them further.  Also, improving posture and movement habits is likely to reduce the effect of fatigue on the major postural muscles that drive a constant nociception.”

They point to a systematic review by Schneider (2009), strong evidence supports aerobic exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); moderate evidence supports massage, resistance training, acupuncture and spa therapy; and limited evidence exists for spinal manipulation, movement re-training, vitamin and herb supplements and dietary approaches.

Overall, the evidence strongly recommends a multifactorial approach that emphasizes education, targeted medications, exercise and cognitive therapy.

Let’s get to a few papers real quick and then we’ll wrap up our Fibro episode, shall we? I have papers covering resistance training and chiro when treating women with fibro, I have tobacco use in fibro patients, and I have acupuncture for fibro…..

Real quick though, I need to recognize one of our show sponsors. If you’re a regular listener of our podcast, you know I use it and I’ve told everyone how amazing it is since about June of 2018. Well now they’re a sponsor of our show and we are really excited to have ChiroUp on board the Chiropractic Forward train. 

Let me tell you about it. 

ChiroUp is changing the way we practice by simplifying patient education and here’s what I mean: 

In a matter of seconds, you can send condition-specific reports to your patients with recommendations for treatment, for their activities of daily living, & for their exercises. 

You can see how this saves you time – no more explaining & re-explaining your patient’s care, because they have access to it at their fingertips. 

You can be confident that your patients are getting the best possible care, because the reports are populated based on what the literature recommends and isn’t that re-assuring? All of that work has been done FOR you. 

There are more than 1000 providers worldwide using ChiroUp to empower their treatments, patients, & practice – Including myself! **Short testimony**

If you don’t know what it’s all about or you’d like to check it out, do yourself a favor and go to today to get started with your FREE TRIAL – Use code Williams99 to pay only $99/month for your first 6 months

That’s and super double secret code Williams99

Item #1

The first one is called “Tobacco Use in Fibromyalgia Is Associated With Cognitive Dysfunction: A Prospective Questionnaire Study.” by L. Ge, R D’Souza, and T Oh and published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes in February 2019(Ge L 2019). Hot stuff, stand back…

Why They Did It

To evaluate the association between smoking and cognitive function in patients with fibromyalgia

How They Did It

  • They surveyed 668 patients with fibro. 
  • They were categorized by smoking status
  • They did outcome measures on all sorts of things including cognitive function, symptom severity, quality of life, fatigue, sleep, anxiety, and depression. 

What They Found

“In patients with fibromyalgia, smoking is a risk factor for cognitive dysfunction. Moreover, smokers with fibromyalgia were more likely to report increased severity of fibromyalgia symptoms, worse quality of life, more sleep problems, and increased anxiety compared with nonsmokers with fibromyalgia.”

As a sidenote

Did that one surprise anyone? Smoking is awful. It’s awful all around for everything, every condition, and even the way you smell. It’s awful. If you smoke like I used to years ago, get a book called, “The Easy Way To Quit Smoking” by Alan Carr and start seeing it for what it is. 

You smoke because you’re bored? How boring is it to stand outside in the cold wind smoking a cigarette by yourself?

You smoke because it gives you confidence? How confident are you when are anxious about how you smell or what smoking is doing to your health on a daily basis. 

Smoking does the exact opposite of what you think it’s doing, basically. 

Exit sidenote

Item #2

The second paper I have here is called “Effects of Resistance Training and Chiropractic Treatment in Women with Fibromyalgia” by Lynn Panton, Arturo Figueroa, and a gaggle of others. It was published in The Journal Of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in March of 2009(Panton L 2009). Old man river….

Yes it’s 10 years old but that doesn’t matter. 

Why They Did It

The objective of this study was to evaluate resistance training & resistance training combined with chiropractic treatment on fibro in women.

How They Did It

Both groups finished sixteen weeks of resistance training consisting of 10 exercises performed two times per week. Of course, one group had only the resistance training while the other added in chiropractic treatment two times per week. 

What They Found

“In women with FM, resistance training improves strength, FM impact, and strength domains of functionality. The addition of chiropractic treatment improved adherence and dropout rates to the resistance training and facilitated greater improvements in the domains of functionality.”

Item #3

Our last item is called “Acupuncture therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” by Xin-chang Zhang, Hao Chen, Wen-tao Xu, et. al. published in Journal of Pain Research in January of 2019(Zhang X 2019). Hot potato, get ‘em while they’re hot. 

Why They Did It

The stated goal here was to determine the effect and safety of acupuncture therapy on the pain intensity and quality of life in patients with FM.

How They Did It

There was a search done through PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase, the China National Knowledge Infrastructure, the Chinese Science and Technology Periodical Database, and one and on. They were collecting randomized controlled trials to performa  meta-analysis according to the Cochrane systematice review method. 

They identified 12 studies that fit the criteria

What They Found

The meta-analysis showed that acupuncture was significantly better than sham acupuncture for relieving pain and improving the quality of life. At long-term, the effect of acupuncture was also superior to that of sham acupuncture without any serious adverse events. 


So there you have it. Tell me you learned something. Tell me you picked up a fibro nugget and tell me you’re better for having listened.  Send me an email at 


Part of making your life easier is having the right patient education tools in your office. Tools that educate based on solid, researched information. We offer you that. It’s done for you. We are taking pre-orders right now for our brand new, evidence-based office brochures available at Just click the STORE link at the top right of the home page and you’ll be off and running. Just shoot me an email at if something is out of sorts or isn’t working correctly. 

If you’re like me, you get tired of answering the same old questions. Well, these brochures make great ways of educating while saving yourself time and breath. They’re also great for putting in take-home folders. 

Go check them out at under the store link. While you’re there, sign up for the newsletter won’t you? We won’t spam you. Just one email per week to remind you when the new episode comes out. That’s it. 

Chiropractic evidence-based products
Integrating Chiropractors
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.22-AM-150x55.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.33-AM-150x55.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2018-07-12-at-10.23.09-AM-150x55.jpg

The Message

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment instead of chemical treatments like pills and shots.

When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show that many patients get good or excellent results through chiropractic for headaches, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, to name just a few.

Chiropractic care is safe and cost-effective. It can decrease instances of surgery & disability. Chiropractors normally do this through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal time requirements or hassle to the patient. 

And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health of the patient!

Key Point:

Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm.

That’s Chiropractic!


Send us an email at dr dot williams at and let us know what you think of our show or tell us your suggestions for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on iTunes and other podcast services. Y’all know how this works by now so help if you don’t mind taking a few seconds to do so.

Help us get to the top of podcasts in our industry. That’s how we get the message out. 


We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward. 


Social Media Links

Chiropractic Forward Podcast Facebook GROUP




Player FM Link



About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger


  • Ge L, D. S. R., Oh T, (2019). “Tobacco Use in Fibromyalgia Is Associated With Cognitive Dysfunction: A Prospective Questionnaire Study.” Mayo Clin Proc Innov Qual Outcomes 3(1): 78-85.
  • Panton L, F. A., Kingsley JD, (2009). “Effects of Resistance Training and Chiropractic Treatment in Women with Fibromyalgia.” J Altern Complement Med 15(3).
  • Zhang X, C. W., Xu W, (2019). “Acupuncture therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” J Pain Res 12: 527-542.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *