Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain — Part 2

In the first part of this arti­cle, I began to sum­ma­rize some of the main points of agree­ment about fibromyal­gia that are emerg­ing as a sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus.  You can catch up with the first part of the arti­cle here.

Here are some fur­ther impor­tant points about fibromyal­gia:

  1. Anoth­er aspect of fibromyal­gia is “dysau­tono­mia”.  That means your auto­nom­ic ner­vous sys­tem is off bal­ance.
  2. The “auto­nom­ic nerve sys­tem” refers to the out­go­ing nerve sig­nals that con­trol so-called “auto­mat­ic” func­tions – such as diges­tion, the cal­iber of blood ves­sels, heart rate – basi­cal­ly, all inter­nal process­es.
  3. The auto­nom­ic ner­vous sys­tem has two basic sub-com­po­nents that we call the sym­pa­thet­ic and parasym­pa­thet­ic sys­tems.  They coun­ter­bal­ance each oth­er to con­trol bod­i­ly action.
  4. The sym­pa­thet­ic sys­tem revs us up in the face of a threat or to chase down that ante­lope we’ve just spot­ted across the savan­nah.  When the sym­pa­thet­ic sys­tem is at a peak, more blood is sent to the mus­cles and less to the diges­tive tract, for instance.
  5. In con­trast, the parasym­pa­thet­ic sys­tem enhances our abil­i­ty to digest food, rebuild our tis­sues, and heal from an injury.
  6. In our mod­ern age, doc­tors take it for grant­ed that most patients will have too much sym­pa­thet­ic acti­va­tion.  A physi­cian is almost nev­er wrong in advis­ing a patient to med­i­tate, prac­tice relaxed breath­ing, chew food more slow­ly, lis­ten to relax­ing music, etc. – activ­i­ties that enhance parasym­pa­thet­ic tone and calm down our fight or flight reac­tions.
  7. The typ­i­cal fibromyal­gia suf­fer­er is an even more extreme exam­ple of auto­nom­ic imbal­ance.  Your sym­pa­thet­ic sys­tem is fly­ing high and your parasym­pa­thet­ics are over­whelmed.
  8. There’s a new gen­er­a­tion of drugs out there for fibromyal­gia.  They’re not pain reliev­ers like aspirin or ibupro­fen – those drugs tar­get the periph­er­al pain sig­nals com­ing into the brain from the rest of the body.  The new­er fibromyal­gia drugs are cen­tral­ly act­ing – they tar­get the way the brain process­es pain.
  9. The best treat­ment for fibromyal­gia is high­ly cus­tomized and takes into account the spe­cif­ic symp­toms you’re expe­ri­enc­ing and, impor­tant­ly, the psy­choso­cial dimen­sions of your sit­u­a­tion.

Based on this sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge and my many years’ expe­ri­ence treat­ing patients with chron­ic pain, I’ve sum­ma­rized key treat­ment rec­om­men­da­tions.  I’ll cov­er them in Part 3 of this arti­cle.


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Fibromyal­gia and Chron­ic Pain, Part 1

Fibromyal­gia and Chron­ic Pain, Part 3

Dr. Lavine’s Detox

Neu­ro­Tac­tile Ther­a­py



About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty five years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website,, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.
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