Fibromyalgia: Revolutionary Advances In Treatment Protocols


By: Dr. John Conde DC, DACNB Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

Primary fibromyalgia syndrome (PFS) affects nearly 6 million people in the United States with a greater prevalence in women.  The age groups typically affected are between 45 and 60 years of age.  PFS was originally thought of as a by-product of clinical depression and was not deemed a valid diagnosis by the majority of physicians in the United States.  Due to the lack of understanding and because it resembles other disorders such as hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, arthritis, and infectious mononucleosis it was routinely misdiagnosed.  Thanks to new, cutting edge research utilizing functional MRI and PET scans we now know that PFS is a true disorder taking on epidemic proportions in this country.

What is PFS and how is it diagnosed?

PFS is a disabling disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and stiffness described as aching, burning, throbbing, and shooting.  The pain is typically greatest in the morning and in muscle groups that are used repetitively.  Fatigue and sleep disturbances (stage 4) are also cardinal signs of this disorder.  Associated symptoms may include irritable bowel and bladder, headaches and transformed migraines, restless leg syndrome, TMJ and face pain, numbness and tingling, impaired memory and concentration, dizziness, anxiety, and depression.

According to the American College of Rheumatology, the criteria for diagnosis of PFS includes finding tenderness or pain in at least 11 of 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied.  Widespread pain must also be experienced in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum of three months.

What is the cause of PFS?

The human brain has inherent pain modulatory systems responsible for the suppression of pain transmission.  Current research is pointing towards faulty brain processing as the causative agent of PFS.  A study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that patients with PFS who were given relatively low levels of pressure seemed to experience the same amount of pain and subsequent brain activity as the control group which were given high levels of pressure.  Due to this faulty brain processing the brain becomes very efficient at transmitting pain so that even a soft touch may produce a pounding sensation.  Over time, an individual may experience pain even without a pain producing stimulus or injury.

Brain-based treatment:

The human brain is highly plastic (changeable).  Sixty percent of the brain is genetically predetermined while forty percent is constantly changing according to environmental influences (work, home, exercise, food, etc.).  We also know that our brain cells require oxygen, proper nutrients, and stimulation for optimal function. Understanding these concepts, neurophysiologic rehabilitation utilizes oxygen acquiring techniques, nutrition, and specific forms of stimulation (light, sound, touch, oculomotor exercises, one-sided balance exercises, cognitive exercises, one- sided chiropractic adjustments) targeted to the under functioning brain regions.  The goal is to restore proper function.  Specifically pertaining to PFS, we have also found that graded aerobic exercise and supplementation of malic acid, magnesium, and melatonin are highly effective.

Dr. John Conde is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist, one of only one thousand in the country. He holds diplomate status through the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. He provides specialized care for difficult cases of back neck pain, numbness-tingling, vertigo-dizziness balance disorders, fibromyalgia, migraines, AD/HD, autism, and dyslexia. His office is located at the Atlantic Grove in Delray Beach, FL and can be reached at 561-330-6096,, and at