Being My Own Fibro Chiropractor

Christine Tender Points

Today is a frustrating day. For once I have a symptom for which there’s a solution. However, that solution is not available because it’s a holiday weekend. This situation is very unusual for me. I’m not talking about having a symptom. Days with symptoms are much more common for me than days without them. The fact that there’s a solution for this symptom is the part that is unique about it.

The symptom I’m referring to is muscle pain in my upper back. For more than a decade, the most common solution to this particular pain for me is a simple adjustment by my chiropractor. Because of my hyper pain sensitivity due to fibromyalgia, I’m very aware of when one of my ribs has moved out of place — even a little bit. The first symptom is slight tugging or discomfort in the muscles on one side of my spine or the other. Too often, I attribute this sensation to having slept in a weird position or having reached awkwardly to grasp something. But when that slight discomfort spreads a bit and morphs into true pain, I know for sure that my spine is out of alignment.

Of all the physical symptoms I experience, this is the one over which I usually feel I have the most control. Sadly, this control is shared with the hands of my skilled chiropractor. My role in the process is to get myself to him as soon as I recognize the issue. Sadly, this time, that recognition occurred on Saturday evening. Today, being Sunday, means that his office is closed as I write this. Worse, there’s only a 50-50 chance it will be open tomorrow, which is New Year’s Eve. If it’s open, my problem is solved. If it’s not, my situation becomes a bit more complicated.

I opted out of spending Christmas with my out-of-town family to avoid the always-present crowds and frequent flight delays. I chose instead to schedule my visit on New Year’s Day. In essence, the day after tomorrow will be Christmas for me. And here I am — without my chiropractor!

Looks like it’ll be Plan B for me, which involves a foam roller. It’s used by athletes to ease muscle cramps. It is used less often by people like me who wish to adjust their own upper backs. That use is frowned upon by many physicians (including my own), but I confess to having used it for that purpose on rare occasions — like a weekend when my chiropractor wasn’t available. The results weren’t perfect, but my efforts did prevent the pain from escalating to the point where nerves were involved. That is my goal for the next few days.

Fortunately, my past use has taught me a couple of things about using a roller that are essential to its success. The first is to heat my spine for at least half an hour before using it. The second is that it may take more than one or two “rolls” (spaced several hours apart) to achieve the desired result. Taking muscle relaxants would be helpful here, but unfortunately, they are among the medications I cannot tolerate. As an alternative, I’ll take Advil to reduce whatever inflammation is adding to my discomfort. Additionally, I’ll drink plenty of water and walk as much as possible. Last, but not least, I’ll keep a positive attitude. This may not reduce my pain, but I’ll feel less bad about having it.

Before I end this column, I’d like to wish my readers a very Happy New Year filled with many more good days than bad.


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.

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