What Causes Fibromyalgia? Is Fibromyalgia Caused By The Cervical Spine?

Have you ever asked yourself what causes fibromyalgia?

People who suffer from cervical (neck) injuries are 13.3 times more likely to develop fibromyalgia than others. While no exact percentages are known, it is our experience that the vast majority of patients who suffer from fibromyalgia also suffered from upper cervical trauma at some point. I would venture to put this number as high as 80 percent.

For this reason, we focus heavily on the involvement of this part of the spine in treating the neurologic symptoms of fibromyalgia.

It is important to note that the age of the injury is inconsequential. The mechanism of injury is often a car accident, but it can be attributed to many other mechanisms of injury, such as falls, birth trauma, or injury while under anesthesia. It is very important that you carefully examine your history from birth to adulthood when trying to understand what type of fibromyalgia you suffer from.


Recognizing neck or upper-back trauma in a fibromyalgia patient can be tricky, since the majority of them either do not connect a past injury with their current diagnosis, or think that the injury was too insignificant to matter. Sometimes they may attribute it solely to the emotional stress that often accompanies a traumatic physical event, when both are actually to blame.

I have seen this to be true especially in the case of domestic violence, where the emotional stress does play a role, but the physical injuries are dismissed as long healed.

People even often ask “can herniated discs cause fibromyalgia” or “does scoliosis cause fibromyalgia?”

Here is the truth:

There are a few fibromyalgia causes that tend to point to spinal trauma as a culprit:

  • A known past injury (or injuries) to the neck and/or upper back.
  • Disc problems in the cervical spine, as seen on X-ray or MRI.
  • Pain that does not respond well to medications or other treatments, such as massage therapy, physical therapy, surgery, trigger point injections, or exercise.
  • Most will describe their extremities (hands and feet) as cold, aching, burning, or feeling as if they are “walking on glass.”
  • Severe headaches and/or migraines.
  • The pain will start out more locally but will eventually affect the entire spine, especially low back, and eventually the whole body.
  • Digestive problems.
  • “Foggy” feelings and feelings of confusion. Vision, hearing, speech, smell, balance, or taste may be affected.
  • Pain in shoulders and upper back.
  • Pain in the jaw/TMJ.
  • Central pain (Central pain syndrome is characterized by a mixture of pain sensations, the most prominent being a constant burning. The steady burning sensation is sometimes increased by light touch. Pain also increases in the presence of temperature changes, most often cold temperatures. A loss of sensation can occur in affected areas, most prominently on distant parts of the body, such as the hands and feet. There may be brief, intolerable bursts of sharp pain on occasion).

 Is Fibromyalgia Caused By Toxicity?

Can toxins be part of what causes fibromyalgia? Toxins can enter our bodies from the external environment or be produced by us internally. Our body naturally produces internal toxins as a by-product of the metabolic functions it performs each day.

Antioxidants are crucial in eliminating free radicals from your body. What exactly are free radicals? Free radicals are basically very reactive particles (small loose cannons, if you will) that move all around the cell damaging everything they come in contact with. Most are produced as a by-product of metabolism, but they can also arise from exposure to toxins, such as heavy metals.

In a nutshell, our bodies are bombarded by toxins.


  • When the body digests food, it produces toxins and waste.
  • When it heals and repairs itself, it produces waste.
  • Whenever we experience negative feelings like stress or anger, we also produce harmful toxins.

However, our bodies were designed to be able to naturally eliminate these toxins.

We get into trouble when we are bombarded with the second kind of toxins, which are found in our food, water, and environment: human-made toxins.

We eat them, drink them, breathe them, touch them, inject them, swallow them in our medications, and put them on our skins regularly and repeatedly. Our cells never get a break! We live in a toxic environment, and while you can control some aspects of your environment (such as the food you eat) it is impossible to avoid toxins altogether.

Consider this: according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), four billion pounds of chemicals are released into the ground and hundreds of millions of pounds of chemicals discharged into surface waters such as lakes and rivers each year. In the United States we allow more than ten thousand additives into our food supply. Americans each eat an average of about one hundred and forty-two pounds of additives and toxins each year. Typically, eight pounds come from salt, one hundred and twenty pounds come from sugar, and about fourteen pounds from coloring, preservatives, and flavorings.

It is not a question of “if” we are toxic, but rather of how much it affects our health.

The body gets rid of toxins through breathing and sweating as well as through the colon, kidneys, and liver. When my patients mention a detox, they are most often thinking of a colon detox. However, the liver is incredibly overburdened and must not be ignored. Why may your liver be overworked? The liver performs over five hundred different tasks and is truly an amazing organ. However, your liver is essentially the filter of your bloodstream, and like any filter, it can become clogged with waste materials when it takes in more toxins than it can filter. When toxins overwhelm the liver, it can no longer perform as it should. Fat may accumulate in the liver or in other organs. Toxins build up and get into the bloodstream.

Among the signs of a toxic liver are weight gain (especially around the abdomen), headaches, bloating, indigestion, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, food allergies, memory loss, fatigue, acne, mood swings, depression, and even skin rashes. When the liver cannot do its work, the toxins that we are exposed to accumulate in the body and make us ill in an assortment of ways.

They have damaging effects on many body functions, particularly the immune system. An overworked and undernourished liver is recognized as the root cause of many chronic diseases.

Are Heavy Metals Part Of What Causes Fibromyalgia?

But some people wonder if heavy metals are what causes Fibromyalgia. Heavy metals include lead, mercury, cadmium, antimony, aluminum, arsenic, and many others. Many of the heavy metals, such as zinc, copper, chromium, iron, and manganese, are essential to body function in very small amounts. But if these metals accumulate in the body in concentrations sufficient to cause poisoning, serious damage may occur.

Heavy metals enter our bodies in many ways. They may enter through cosmetics, amalgam dental fillings, water, improperly coated food containers and cookware, vaccinations, cigarettes, and many other things in our environment.

Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning include anemia, fatigue, musculoskeletal complaints, mood disturbances, neurological problems, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, kidney problems, liver dysfunction, endocrine problems, hormonal imbalances, and immune system dysfunction.

Heavy metal toxicity causes systemic problems that may fit the symptoms of many other syndromes. It presents in various body systems, depending on where the biochemical imbalance or disruption occurs, or the area(s) of highest concentrations of the metal(s)—for example, the brain, kidneys, or pituitary.

Long-term exposure may contribute to the onset of slow progressive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.

Laboratory tests routinely used for exposed persons include blood tests, liver and renal function tests, urine tests, fecal tests, X-rays, and hair and fingernail analyses. Many of these tests are not routinely performed in your doctor’s office, but you should be able to find a doctor who can perform a urine test. While it is widely assumed that hair or fingernail analyses are best, we prefer and perform urine analysis.

Hair and fingernail analyses can give an indication of exposure that has occurred over time or in the past but will not show recent exposures. It may also give false positives. Blood will only reflect recent and severe exposure. In addition, the body does not use blood as a detoxifying pathway, but it does use urine as such. Urine will reflect exposures that are chronic or that have happened in the last few days.

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