Changes in your Nervous system
On this page I will attempt to describe our approach, how we learn about your individual symptoms and what we can do about it. I hope you find this interesting and I encourage you to contact us if you would like any further information.
Learning about you
Your Fibromyalgia is as individual as you are. You aren’t a list of symptoms that make up FMS. Your FMS is a result of your past, which is unlike anyone else’s. For this reason we have to take time to get to know you, both present and past. We ask you to fill in a History Form detailing your life leading to your FMS starting. This helps us to get as much background information as possible for our consultations.
If you think back to the homepage list of symptoms and consider where you are currently at, you’ll hopefully realise that the list of symptoms has developed as the years passed by. Your whole Fibro picture didn’t happen on day one; it developed. For this reason we are primarily interested in your past. What lead you to develop Fibromyalgia when the people around you did not? So we look at your medical history, past injuries, surgeries, scars, traumas, emotional states etc and try to place them in a chronological order because these are all traumas that may still be disrupting your nervous system today. Here is an example, taken from a real patient:
Jane Doe's Path to FMS
Tyre blew out. Car rolled. No record of any injuries to me. Was in baby car seat.
Fall on Ice
I had bad fall on ice. Impact was directly onto coxyx and was badly winded. Back pain for some time afterwards and seemed to be the start of intermittent back pain.
Mild whiplash after rear ended in car in which I was a passenger. No treatment sought.
Pleurisy in 2008. Treated with antibiotics.
1985 - 1987
Until 1987 there were 5 or so instances of being punched repeatedly in back of head by school bullies with closed fists.
1997 - 2000
Went through a time of regularly spraining ankles, right worse. Sprained ankles approx 5 times right, 2 times left.
Cosmetic breast reduction
Cosmetic breast reduction after significant weight loss.
Sought help in 2007 after at least 7 years of intermittent depression. Became worse antenatal. Prescribed Citalopram and have been on this ever since.
Fell from a horse at a riding school. No apparent injury at the time but have never felt the same since. Certain this was the trigger event.
As you can see from the above example, there are several life events that may have lead to the nervous system not being able to fully compensate at the time of the 2014 accident. Think of it like ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’. Each trauma itself is not all that significant, but a build up of these traumas, and their compensations, leads to a point one day where no more compensation can be made. This then results in disorganisation of the nervous system and an inability to rebalance. It is then our job to work out what your nervous system has held on to.
Whether at our clinic or via Skype, once we have had a chance to read your History Form, it is time to chat. Ideally this is in the clinic because we can also take the opportunity to test your reflexes. This face-to-face meeting is a great opportunity for you to ask questions, hear my thoughts and decide whether you wish to continue with this treatment approach, and it is free of charge.
If we get a chance to test your base reflexes we can give you our thoughts right there and then. This is useful to help you understand our thought process and settle any of your anxieties about treatment. Please remember, at this point, or at any other time, you are welcome to walk away. There really is no pressure because the most effective treatment happens when the patient is ready to participate.
playing the game
After the Face-to-Face meeting we can book you in and get to work. We like to encourage you to commit to a six session block for treatment. Why? Because treating any patient, with or without FMS, is like playing that card game Pairs: All the cards are there, face down on the table, but you don’t know in which order they are in to pair them up. Over the course of the game you begin to learn where things are, so when you turn a Queen of Diamonds you know where the Queen of Hearts was last seen.
So session one and two may seem like there is no significant change but we are learning fast about the way your nervous system is disorganised. You will start to make sense to both of us as we begin to see order in the disorganisation. Then over the following sessions we can start to make progress. Remember our definition of Fibromyalgia?
“A disorganised nervous system trying but failing to respond . . .”
So the aim is to help the nervous system reorganise. So how do we go about that?
Step 3.2: Making
The nervous system can change instantly if it can recognise the fault it has created. We test your reflexes and how they respond in your muscles. For example, if we touch a problem area with a tooth pick, we stimulate the withdrawal reflex that would remove your hand from that sharp object. The sensation only needs to be mild so it is completely painless for you. We then test the related muscles to see if we can spot an inappropriate pattern. These faults tend to be around sensory receptors that were involved in the trauma event. So we use your history to help narrow down where to look.
Once we find the fault we can simulate it and cause a new reflex. This resets the fault so the nervous system no longer needs to make compensations for it. It is a complex mind game for me, working to make sense of the disorganisation, but for you it is as simple as allowing your body to do what it does naturally… fault or no fault. You really don’t need to understand the process to benefit from it.
This method was developed by an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr José Palomar MD. He realised many patients were going under his knife because no physical reason for their pain could be found in their MRI scans – This is known as investigative surgery. I liken this to the problem of FMS because no physical reason can be found here either. Dr Palomar would notice that when looking inside there was no issue lurking in the tissue either (other than what he just created by cutting them open!) so he began to theorise that the discomfort felt was NOT ‘in the tissue’ and NOT ‘all in the head’ but instead in the interpretation within how the nervous system responded to the insult. He has developed his non-invasive work over the past 30 years through his profound research into the nervous system and successfully treats patients with all kinds of orthopaedic pain conditions. He now travels, teaching his protocols to people like me, who have been lucky enough to learn directly from him and apply the teaching to our own patient groups. You can learn more about Dr Palomar on his teaching website here.
When learning this technique it was instantly clear to us that this could be the reason our FMS patients did not respond to conventional therapy. We realised that their nervous system was actually responding as if a threat was being placed upon it. We have written up a few of our patient stories below so you can see how this method has changed their lives.