Fibromyalgia Flare after Concussion

Posted in Fibromyalgia on Aug 31, 2021

Fibromyalgia and concussion are commonly thought of as being two separate conditions. However, the fact that fibromyalgia can flare up after a head or neck injury such as whiplash or a concussion may suggest that there is actually a connection between the two.

And this isn’t exactly new information. A broad research study from all the way back in 2001 considered that there is likely an underlying common link among many so-called “unexplained clinical conditions” (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and post-concussion syndrome) which may be why a flare-up of one can cause a flare-up of another. There are a few important things to know first about how fibromyalgia flare-up after a concussion may be linked:

Fibromyalgia is not a condition or a disease. It is a diagnosis given when your doctor or specialist has done all kinds of tests but cannot figure out why you are experiencing pain and fatigue … But make no mistake! Things don’t happen in the body for no reason. There is always a reason. It’s simply that your GP or specialist hasn’t been able to figure out what it is.

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Fibromyalgia, as a syndrome, is usually multifactorial. In other words, there is often more than one underlying cause, and it is the combination of those elements in a unique way that is different for everyone that is likely causing the problems. You do not need to lose consciousness when you suffer a concussion. Any significant head trauma at just the wrong angle, even if you don’t have bruising, bleeding or broken bones can still affect your brain function and lead to a host of problems including pain and even fibromyalgia flare-ups.

The symptoms of concussion are indistinguishable from the symptoms of whiplash. In other words, a neck injury can cause the exact same things as a concussion, and may actually be connected with why people with fibromyalgia actually experience a flare-up after a neck or head injury even without a concussion.

Fibromyalgia Flare-Ups: Is it a concussion or is it your neck?

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The top vertebrae in your spine - also known as the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2) - are physically tethered onto the base of your brainstem at the top of your neck. Unlike other vertebrae in your spine, if either the alignment of C1 or the C2 vertebrae are knocked off-center, they can transmit physical tension into the top part of your nerve system.

In effect, this may cause a “stretching” or pull of the nerves at the base of your skull.  The reason that this matters and is so important for people who may experience a fibromyalgia flare-up after a concussion or neck injury is because IF all your normal CTs and MRIs come back as being “normal” but you’re still experiencing headaches, neck pain, body pain, brain fog, dizziness and the rest of it, it may be that the problem is not actually a concussion at all! And is instead connected with a misalignment at the top of your neck with either the atlas or the axis.

Both the atlas and axis have been connected by many researchers and authorities in the field known as Upper Cervical specific care with fibromyalgia and post-concussion syndrome (plus a host of other neuromuscular disorders). The reason that so many upper neck disorders actually go undiagnosed is a) because they are often overlooked or b) they are viewed from the incorrect angle.

As we mentioned before, you can still experience head and neck injuries without bruising, bleeding, or broken bones. Medial specialists are quick and accurate to diagnose these types of problems. However, when the problem is much smaller - often only 1-3mm in size - they are less likely to make the diagnosis because from that perspective, such variations are considered normal.

However, we may use the illustration of a grain of sand stuck in your eye. A grain of sand varies in size from 0.002 to 2.0mm in size. Yet you can appreciate that such a small thing can nevertheless produce very big and negative health problems and pain! So when we are talking about things like fibromyalgia flare-ups, post-concussion syndrome and so forth, even very small misalignments or injuries to the joints of the upper neck can have a very significant knock-on effect in the development of neurological pain syndromes.

The other reason that these types of issues with the atlas and axis are also often undiagnosed, in our experience is that the standard types of CT and MRI imaging, which are taken from stock front-to-back and horizontal slices do not take the unique three-dimensional structure of your spine into account. And it is only by visualising the joints of your upper neck from customised angles - specific to the shape of your own bones 0 are you able to properly identify such small yet significant degrees of misalignment. This is the purpose of Upper Cervical specific care and how it may be able to help people with fibromyalgia flare-up after neck injury or concussion. 

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Upper Cervical Brisbane - Helping people with a Fibromyalgia flare-up after a concussion 

Upper cervical care is a special division of general chiropractic practice without twisting or manipulation of the neck. In other words, highly precise and has no cracking. An upper cervical chiropractic doctor, after completing their general chiropractic degree, goes to study this unique approach that focuses on the relationship between the alignment of your upper neck with the health and function of your entire body. 

The difference beings with a precise focussed and personalised examination where we are first looking to identify if your fibromyalgia flare after concussion may indeed be connected with an underlying issue with your neck. If so, we are able to perform a series of customised 3D images to illustrate the exact location, direction, and degree of misalignment in your neck.

With this information, we are able to prescribe a course of care for the purpose of restoring the normal alignment and motion through your upper neck with the expectations that it will help restore the normal function of your nerves, which in turn way well be able to help reduce the fibromyalgia flare-up after the concussion or other injury.

Our practice, Atlas Health, is the premier upper cervical chiropractic health centre in Brisbane. Conveniently located in North Lakes, it is our purpose to help people with long-standing health challenges including fibromyalgia and concussions find long-term solutions so that they can get back to doing the things in life that matter most to them. Our principal is Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, who is an advanced certified instructor with the Blair upper cervical chiropractic technique.

If you would like more information or schedule an appointment, we offer a complimentary 15-minute over-the-phone consultation direct with Dr. Hannah so that you can discuss your particular condition and ask any questions. To find out if upper cervical care may be right for you, you can call us direct at 07 3188 9329 or email us through the Contact Us link on this page. We look forward to assisting you to the best of our ability. Atlas Health Australia - “Hope healing and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”

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Bragée B, Michos A, Drum B, Fahlgren M, Szulkin R, Bertilson BC. Signs of Intracranial Hypertension, Hypermobility, and Craniocervical Obstructions in Patients With Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Front Neurol. 2020 Aug 28;11:828. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00828. PMID: 32982905; PMCID: PMC7485557. 

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