Chiropractic: Loving the Adjustments, But Not the Fibro Flares that Follow

Chiropractic: Loving the Adjustments, But Not the Fibro Flares that Follow

Last week my column, First Visit to a Chiropractor Adjusted Her Opinion, focused on my first chiropractic appointment. Due to the high cost, I started seeing a different chiropractor at a wellness center run by my husband’s employer. Chiropractic care is one of the many treatment options offered free of charge. Other services include physical therapy and acupuncture.

During my first appointment, my new chiropractor explained how manipulation can cause soreness. This can cause a flare in people with fibromyalgia. He also explained that during the manipulations toxins are released. This may make you to feel ill for a day or two afterward.

We discussed many of my underlying health issues. I suffer from carpal tunnel in my right arm. I have chronic neck, shoulder, back and hip pain. My knees are shot. Frankly, I’m a mess! He said “Don’t worry because I can fix all that.” He all but guaranteed he will have me dancing again. I’m optimistic, but still have a few doubts.

Just like my first adjustment, there were a lot of loud, cracking noises going on. It seems like it should hurt, but it really doesn’t. Because I was uncertain as to how the manipulations would feel, my body tensed before each one. The fear of pain was present and hard to shake.

After he was finished working me over, we discussed his recommendations for an ongoing treatment plan. He thinks once a week would be best, which is far less aggressive than the prior chiropractor’s recommendation of three times a week.

He also recommended I begin physical therapy. I should start in the heated pool, available free of charge, at the wellness center. Exercising with my knotted up muscles, and painful joints is very difficult, and has caused many fibro flares over the years. When I’m in the pool, my muscles and joints will be supported by the water. I will be able to move more freely; using the resistance of the water to strengthen my joints and muscles.

The first meeting with the doctor went very well, but I felt ill the next two days. I had a minor flare and the toxins got to me a bit, but it wasn’t enough to deter me from a second appointment.

My second appointment was amazing. I felt great when I jumped off the table. I was energetic, which is something I don’t experience very often. I could reach above my head and behind my back without excruciating pain. Not only do I have more range of motion in my arms and shoulders, but I even have a little swing in my hips when I walk.

Everything was wonderful, until the next day. I went into a major flare that lasted three days. After my third visit, the same thing happened, so I had a conversation with my doctor about it. I love the results of the adjustments, but I’m not loving side effects. Will I continue to experience this, or will it get better over time?

My doctor is confident that my fibro flares should lessen over time. My range of motion should continue to get better and my pain should lessen. After only four adjustments, I see a major improvement. The fibro flares are worth dealing with as long as I continue to make progress. I plan to continue weekly treatments as long as necessary. I am hopeful that I will be able to dance again soon!

Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

14 comments

  1. Denise Bault says:

    I’ve never experienced a flare after an adjustment. The most important thing to do when getting adjusted is to RELAX. I know, hard to do when you don’t know what’s coming, but it will help!

    • Mandy says:

      Good advice Denise. I rarely experience flares after treatments either and the only times I have is when I needed additional adjustments because my body was really “out of whack”, or had to see a different doctor because mine was away for some reason. Usually though (99% of the time), I have no adverse reactions to the treatments and feel wonderful! Yes, I think the key is relaxing and trusting in your doctor and in the knowledge that you will feel so much better in the end!

      • Carrie Anton says:

        Denise and Mandy, Thank you for the comments! Relaxation is very important and trust is key as well! My body is very out of whack so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. My doctor tells me to take a deep breath and breathe out before each adjustment but at first I still tensed up.

  2. Amy says:

    My chiropractor is also my massage therapist. She is awesome in both fields, and spent the last 10 years as a massage therapist while attending school to become a chiropractor. We have found that she can access deep tissue areas better by adjusting me first. It is kinda the reaction of being adjusted ‘shocks’ your muscles while they are trying to figure out what just happened, so immediate massage is more beneficial. I plan on going every other week for both, but I can’t quite afford that yet. A good way to relax before an adjustment is to focus your breathing, sort of like you do with yoga. She tells me to take a deep breath in, then blow it out while she is adjusting. It has made it less painful to be adjusted for me. Also try to find a chiro that adjusts your whole body. I have seen a big benefit with having my joints adjusted as well as my pubic bone adjusted. It sounds odd, but I haven’t had a cystitis flare since she started doing that.

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Amy, what a great find! To have both together must be awesome. My chiropractor does instruct me to do the deep breath thing but I still managed to tense up. I’m getting a lot better the more adjustments I have. Having your whole body adjusted is important.

      Thank you for your comment!

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Dr. McFadden, Thank you for the information. I don’t understand a lot of it but some things definitely stood out to me. I had 2 spinal fusions (L4 L5 and L5 S1)and continue to have pain 15 years later (though not as bad). I plan to delve more into the link you shared.

    • Denise Bault says:

      I went to this link and read what was ME! I was going to ask my pain doc to order another MRI on my cervical area as the lumbar region MRI showed exactly what this link’s author stated! I’m so tired of the pain in my neck, shoulders and the headaches. Very enlightening! Thanks!

  3. Christy says:

    When I read this article, it was like I was reading about myself! Everything in this article is me. I’m going to follow what she did and see if it works for me. Fingers crossed…

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Hi Christy, I pray it works for you too! Best of luck to you!! I improve with each appointment, which continues to surprise me. Please come back and let me know how it goes! Gentle hugs!

  4. Anna says:

    I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about a year ago after suffering for years from chronic pain. Just recently I made the connection with flareups and chiro adjustments. I am suffering as a result now from a flareup after my last adjustments a few days ago. I am glad I found this page to learn that others suffer after a chiro adjustment. At this point, I don’t know what to do since I initially feel good after an adjustment, but then the headaches and muscle pain that last for days. Its been 3 days since last chiro visit and I am still in pain.

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Hi Anna, Welcome! I’m so glad you found us! I’ve been seeing a chiro for about 8 months now. At first, I had the same issues with flares but as time goes on, it has gotten much better. Now I do not flare after my appointments. For me, the adjustments have made a huge difference in my pain level. I feel so much better and can move more freely. But it was a tough journey. I have a great relationship with my chiro and I’ve been very honest with how I’ve felt after each appointment so he could adjust my treatments accordingly. At first, I went weekly but now I go every 3 to 4 weeks. I feel that a fibro warrior must have coined the phrase “No pain no gain”! One thing I felt really helped me was a using a heated pool. I did that when I started my chiro visits. It really helped my knotted muscles. I used an underwater treadmill and it was wonderful! Best of luck to you Anna! Gentle hugs

  5. Lea says:

    Just wondering if you’re still doing well a few months later? I saw a chiropractor for over a year and experienced the same as you, things getting better and better movement but after a few months I got increasingly more pain than I ever had before I went, and more neurotic and depressed because of the pain. I stopped going for a year and things got better in some ways but worse in others. I’m going to a gym now and doing chiro again and things seem to be holding better, but still hurting 2 days after the adjustments. It feels like tendinitis in my whole body. I haven’t been diagnosed with fibro but experience all the same symptoms- my doctor called it central sensitization, which is apparently different. It’s hard to stay hopeful.

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Hi Lea, Sorry for taking so long to respond. Yes, I’m still doing very well. The only time I feel pain is when I’m not able to make it in for an adjustment. It’s been 5 weeks for me and I really can tell I need to go in. But otherwise, I feel pretty good. I now only go in every 2 to 3 weeks for a 15-minute adjustment. I’m sorry you are having a difficult time. The other thing that really helped me along with the chiropractic care was heated pool therapy. I would do that after my chiro appointments, which may have helped with the pain from the adjustments. Best of luck to you Lea!

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