Fibromyalgia Pain and Ear Problems: How Are They Related?

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Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with ear-related symptoms such as feeling of ear fullness, earache, and tinnitus (ringing in the ear). We have seen improvements in ear problems in those who are suffering with fibromyalgia and those who are not. Recent research that appeared in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology sought to determine how fibromyalgia pain is related to ear problems.

Concluding the article, the researchers from Japan said “given our findings, we suspect the onset of ear fullness may be associated not with abnormal findings in the middle and inner ear function but with other causes, such as central sensitization.”

So the ear symptoms many people who suffer with fibromyalgia experience are associated with central sensitization. So what is central sensitization?

Your Body’s Alarm System

In order to understand what central sensitization is and why it’s important for you to understand your fibromyalgia symptoms, it’s important for you to understand what the central nervous system is designed to do. Nerves make the arms and legs move. Nerves make the heart beat and the lungs breathe. Ultimately, the entire nervous system is designed to keep the body alive. That is its most primal function. If a lion is chasing, the body runs. If the hand touches something hot, it jerks away. Just like a built-in alarm system, this system of nerves will alert the body to danger and trigger automatic protective responses. Normally, this system works beautifully and life is preserved well into adulthood.

However, in some cases, this alarm system goes haywire. For example, what happens if this alarm system is too sensitive? Now instead of feeling no pain, one is left to feel too much pain. Just like a car alarm system that triggers anytime the wind blows, an overly sensitive nervous system can lead to false alarms and alarms that never turn off. Scientists have studied the process that leads to an overly sensitive nervous system and have called It central sensitization.

This hypersensitive nervous system will have many false alarms that are triggered by normally non-threatening activities like walking, sitting, standing, talking, breathing, and moving. These false alarms cause life for someone with a sensitized nervous system to be a hellish state of constant pain and agony over seemingly benign activities. Flare-ups that happen with no rhyme or reason lead to a life of  fear and anxiety. Afraid to move, a person can become trapped inside her/his own body that is full of sensitized nerves.

In this sensitized state, sometimes the alarm does not turn off. More annoying than a car alarm that will not shut off, more annoying than a fire alarm that will not shut off; the sensitized nervous system is in a constant state of threat.   Hence, this faulty alarm system can generate a constant signal output of  nerve pain, even when the threatening “lion” is gone.

There is a known association between PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), a condition common to soldiers, and fibromyalgia.

What Causes This Hypersensitivity?

Frequently, this hypersensitivity will begin with a physical trauma such as car crash, a fall, sports injury, etc. People with fibromyalgia frequently have had a number of physical and emotional traumas, leading to increasing hypersensitivity in the central nervous system.

Upper cervical chiropractic care has shown to be extremely effective at helping people with fibromyalgia. Chiropractic leader Dr. Gerry Clum has been quoted as saying “Fibromyalgia involves turmoil of the central nervous system, yielding a situation known as central sensitization, which causes heightened nervous system responses. Overall health and wellness is affected by an individual’s nervous system, an area in which chiropractors are proficiently trained to address, making chiropractic care a viable option for fibromyalgia patients.”

When an upper cervical chiropractor is able to help someone with fibromyalgia the pain seems to be the key: once the pain has been managed, the myriad symptoms seen with fibromyalgia, for instance depression, chronic fatigue, and sleep disturbances, tend to lessen or even evaporate. When that happens, fibromyalgia patients can return to their normal lives.

First Female General helped by Chiropractic

A great example of this is seen in retired Brig. Gen. Becky Halstead, who suffered from fibromyalgia at the time she served in Iraq where she was the U.S. Army’s first female general to hold a command. “The adjustments and nutritional advice I received from my chiropractor helped in treating the fibromyalgia and made me feel better on a day-to-day basis,” claimed Halstead, a West Point graduate who has been urging that access to chiropractic care become a given for all U.S. soldiers. “Personally, I hope someday that chiropractic care becomes part of all our military’s healthcare programs, so that all soldiers can have the opportunity to benefit from the care that only a doctor of chiropractic can provide.”

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