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Help for chronic fatigue syndrome

March 9, 2018
BY DR. ERIN ELSTER D.C. , Lahaina News

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) can negatively impact an individual's quality of life as well as his or her state of mind.

CFS symptoms include extreme exhaustion that is not improved with rest; muscle pain; memory and concentration problems; tiredness after mental or physical exertion lasting over 24 hours; irregular sleep patterns; sore throat; headaches; and joint pain without swelling. In order to be diagnosed with CFS, patients have no other medical conditions to explain the fatigue; in addition, symptoms are ongoing for six months or more.

While the exact cause of CFS is unknown, many patients report a precipitating event - an incident of physical trauma directed at the head and neck prior to CFS onset. In fact, medical researchers increasingly are naming head and neck trauma as a primary cause of CFS.

Common sources of trauma include blows to the head, whiplash and/or concussion sustained as a result of motor vehicle accidents, falls and through high-impact sports such as surfing, soccer, gymnastics and horseback riding. Any of the above may cause ligaments supporting the head and neck to be sprained (stretched,) which forces the upper cervical (neck) vertebrae out of their normal biomechanical position. This upper cervical misalignment can affect brainstem function and may lead to CFS symptoms.

Many patients who suffer from CFS are also diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Along with CFS, fibromyalgia has also been linked to head/neck trauma by medical researchers. Researchers believe that trauma triggers changes in the brainstem including abnormal production of stress hormones and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that signal pain and an increased sensitivity in the brain's pain receptors. This disruption of brainstem function can lead to fibromyalgia symptoms.

Fortunately, a chiropractic technique that focuses upon the alignment of the upper cervical vertebrae, known as upper cervical care, shows promise for both CFS and fibromyalgia patients. Upper cervical chiropractic care utilizes two diagnostic tools - thermal imaging and digital X-rays - to accurately assess a trauma-induced cervical injury. After determining a diagnosis of cervical injury, each patient's injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially-designed knee chest table. Many patients notice improvement in symptoms with just a few treatments.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disorder that affects the quality of life of millions of people. The relationship between head/neck trauma, CFS onset and upper cervical care provides hope for these patients.

With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has been working with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia patients for the past four years on Maui. For more information on upper cervical care, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or



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