Fibromyalgia: "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.
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event." The Mayo Clinic website
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) "is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that can't be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn't improve with rest.
This condition is also known as systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Sometimes it's abbreviated as ME/CFS.
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, although there are many theories — ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Some experts believe chronic fatigue syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors.
There's no single test to confirm a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. You may need a variety of medical tests to rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms. Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome focuses on symptom relief." The Mayo Clinic Website.
Craniosacral Therapy and Myofascial Release are powerful approaches for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related disorders because they help break the cycle of pain and illness and allow the body/mind to recover by balancing the autonomic nervous system, releasing stress/tension patterns, facilitating neuroplasticity, and aiding in detoxification.
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is an important piece in the treatment of many chronic health conditions including fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- The ANS is the master controller of the body's metabolism, hormone production, immune system, and emotions.
- When the ANS becomes imbalanced from excessive stress and trauma, it can create many chronic problems resulting in many symptoms.
- The ANS controls most of the body’s involuntary processes, including, digestion, circulation, respiration, and metabolism. It also is responsible for our fight/flight/freeze responses.
- When the ANS becomes imbalanced it can create many chronic problems resulting in many symptoms.
- Dysautonomia - is a term used to describe dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. It is typically used as a term for certain illnesses including Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy(RSD) and POTS.
- However, some researchers and clinicians believe that Dysautonomia is a contributing factor with many other chronic illnesses including: Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, MCS, PTSD, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME, CFS).
ANS imbalance may also be related to many other conditions and symptoms including:
Post Concussion syndrome
High/low Blood Pressure
**It is important to always see a medical doctor to address any medical conditions and symptoms. Symptoms may be a sign of serious illness.
Stress, trauma, and the ANS
There are many sources of stress and trauma including: emotional, psychological, physical, chemical, viral, and bacterial that have an impact on optimal brain function.
This can overload the nervous system and put it in a chronic state of autonomic nervous system imbalance that can result in many chronic health problems and physical/ emotional symptoms.
This can sensitize the brain which keeps a person stuck in a state of "fight/ flight/freeze", keeping the body from regenerating.
This wreaks havoc on all of the systems of the body resulting in a multitude of symptoms. When the nervous system is imbalanced due to excessive stress or trauma it keeps the body's systems from functioning properly.
“What a great majority, if not all, ‘syndromal’ clients have in common is a functional disorder in how the autonomic nervous system is responding to stress.” Peter Levine- founder of Somatic Experieincing
The Power of Neuroplasticity:
The good news is that our brain and nervous system is more malleable then was previously thought. We can rewire our brain and learn to balance our nervous system through the power of neuroplasticity.
In Dr. Norman Doidge's book, "The Brain's Way of Healing" , he describes how the mind and body can become partners in healing the brain. He gives examples of how somatic and sensory based approaches can help rewire the brain.
Craniosacral Therapy and Myofascial Release address the following areas to help balance the autonomic nervous system, release tension patterns, decrease stress, and improve energy flow for health, healing, and wellness:
Structural/physical restrictions (cranial, fascial, visceral, muscular neural) can affect the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Structural restrictions and tension patterns in the tissues, organs, nerves, and membranes can put mechanical strains on the body and brain keeping the nervous system in a chronic state of activation making it difficult to recover.
Brain/neural sensitization (limbic kindling, distorted sensory perception, hyperactive amygdala, hyperactive fear reflexes ). When the brain becomes sensitized from stress, illness, or trauma, it begins to perceive and interpret internal and external stimuli as a threat. This creates a chronic state of vigilance creating imbalance in the ANS. Manual therapy helps rewire these pathways.
Vagus Nerve Dysfunction- the vagus nerve is our 10th cranial nerve and has both parasympathertic and sympathetic functions. It is the longest nerve of the ANS and influences the heart, lungs and digestive tract. It can be become restricted in the diaphragm, thorax, neck, and occiput creating ANS dysfunction. The vagus nerve can also become functionally disrupted from excessive stress, physical/ emotional trauma, viruses, toxins, and excessive sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) activation. There are many ways to increase vagal tone, which acts as a regulator or brake for excessive sympathetic (fight/flight/freeze) reactions.
Postural imbalances can create mechanical strain and stress which can restrict breathing, disrupt physiology, and put pressure on nerves. ( i.e a tight diaphragm can over stimulate the vagus nerve causing many symptoms).
Neuro/Emotional Stress - (conscious and unconscious) There is a growing body of evidence that supports the concept that pain and ANS dysfunctions may develop as a result of unexpressed emotions. This may cause a "bracing" or "tightening up" on an unconscious level, which causes the muscles to contract and tighten, putting pressure on pain sensitive structures, creating many bizarre symptoms of pain, weakness, neuropathy, nervousness, irritability, and loss of motion. Dr. John Sarno, a medical doctor from the Rusk institute in New York, is a pioneer in mind/body pain relief. His book "Healing Back Pain" as helped shed light on how emotions can cause the muscles to tighten outside of our awareness resulting in many types of pain syndromes, neuropathies, and chronic functional disorders.
** a brain healthy diet is also recommended. It is important to work with a nutritionist or functional medicine doctor to balance your diet.
There are many ways to help retrain your ANS:
EFT- Emotional Freedom Techniques
spending time in nature
connect to others
chi kung/tai chi
Limbic Retraining programs
Vagus Nerve stimulation
**The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment or prescription for any disease or illness. The decision to use, or not to use, any of this information is the sole responsibility of the reader. Always consult with a licensed health care practitioner when dealing with as disease, illness, or health condition.
copyright 2018 Walter Blick, New York, New York
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