April 2007


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Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

The above headline comes from a March 16, 2007 article on WebMD. The article is based on a study done at the Hypertension Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center and published in the March 2, 2007 issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension. 

In this study, 50 patients with hypertension were divided into two groups of 25 each.  One group of 25 received a specific light force chiropractic adjustment (administered by a chiropractor) to the Atlas vertebrae (uppermost bone in the neck).  The other group of 25 received a similar procedure but with no adjustment being given. Researchers called this procedure the "sham adjustment". Since the type of adjustment given was very light force, the patients involved in this study did not know if they were receiving the real or sham adjustments.

The results were surprising to even the medical researchers conducting the study.  After 8 weeks of care the 25 people in the group receiving the real chiropractic adjustments all showed a significant reduction in blood pressure compared to the group that received the sham adjustment. Those patients who got the real adjustment showed an average of 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count), and an average of 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number) over those who got the fake or sham adjustment.

In his interview with WebMD, study leader George Bakris, MD commented, "This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination.  And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems."

When they first analyzed the data, Dr. Bakris and his statistician had trouble believing the data.  He noted, "When the statistician brought me the data, I actually didn't believe it. It was way too good to be true. The statistician said, 'I don't even believe it.' But we checked for everything, and there it was."

X-rays were used to confirm that the chiropractic adjustments actually changed the position of the Atlas vertebrae.  Dr. Marshall Dickholtz was the chiropractor who performed the specific adjustments and commented in WebMD, "At the base of the brain are two centers that control all the muscles of the body. If you pinch the base of the brain -- if the Atlas gets locked in a position as little as a half a millimeter out of line -- it doesn't cause any pain but it upsets these centers." 

Even with the overwhelming results, the authors of the study were cautious in their conclusions and posed several questions.  They commented, "The mechanism as to why this improvement in blood pressure occurs is unknown and cannot be determined by this study”.  They continued, “The data presented, however, raise a number of important questions including: a) How does misalignment of C1 affect hypertension?; and b) If there is a cause and effect relationship between C1 misalignment and hypertension, is malposition of C1 an additional risk factor for the development of hypertension?"



Antibiotics Overprescribed According to Sinus Study

A study published in the March 2007 issue of the scientific periodical the Archives of Otolaryngology suggested that antibiotics are being greatly overprescribed for sinus infections because most cases are caused by a virus rather than bacteria, and antibiotics have no beneficial effect on viruses.  This study looked at two national surveys of patient data from 1999 to 2002 and showed that there were 14.28 million doctor visits for diagnosed chronic rhinosinusitis (sinus infections) and another 3.12 million for acute rhinosinusitis.

The study showed that in the acute cases 83 percent of patients were treated with antibiotics, additionally 70 percent of the chronic sufferers were treated with antibiotics. According to a March 19, 2007 article on the study, WebMD notes that only "about 3 percent to 5 percent of acute sinus infections are bacterial in nature, meaning that they respond to antibiotic treatment."

Dr. Don Leopold, chair of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Department of Otolaryngology who worked on the sinus study commented, "We don't want to be using up our antibiotics on these people." He further noted that there are no approved drugs to treat sinus infections and no recommended course of treatment.

In an interview with WebMD Dr. Leopold added, "By the current guidelines it does appear that antibiotics are being overused. This may be due to the fact that we feel the need to give patients something and there are not a lot of effective treatments. And it could be that antibiotics really do help patients feel better."

Dr. David Spiro, a pediatrician and professor at Oregon Health and Science University, commented on the rate of antibiotic treatment for sinus infections and commented that it is "extremely high for a condition that, for the most part, self-resolves."  He added, "Antibiotics are not harmless. They have side effects themselves. You can have a really severe allergic reaction."

In an interview in the same article, ear, nose, and throat specialist Michael Benninger, MD, told WebMD that in Europe, antibiotics are rarely prescribed for sinus infections.  He noted, "In this country, I really don't think we have gotten to the point where we tell patients they don't need antibiotics."  He added, "The bottom line is we should not be treating a virus with an antibiotic, and we should not assume that antibiotics are the best treatment for acute or chronic rhinosinusitis."



Chiropractic Patient Writes Book on Experience - I Stand Amazed

There is probably no better advocate for chiropractic care than a patient whose life has been changed by it. Geri Carlson is just such an individual who was so moved by her life changing experience, that she decided to write about it.  Her book, "I Stand Amazed: How Chiropractic Saved My Life" chronicles her journey from desperation to amazement.

As described in her book, published in early 2007, Geri awoke one late January morning in 2004 and as she put it, "My world was about to collapse." On that morning she awoke and was having trouble breathing as well as a feeling of "numbness in her brain".  She had difficulty focusing or even performing simple tasks.  She felt like she was "jumping out of her skin" and she believed she was going to die.

Over the next several weeks the sleeplessness, hysterical crying, and myriad of other symptoms left Geri at wits end.  Her visits to a variety of medical doctors produced no answers and only served to fuel her desperation.  At one point she felt hopeless and was barely able to speak when one physician, who was offering new medication told her it would take several more weeks to know if the medicine could help. At this low point having lost hope, she uttered, "I won't be here."

It was at this low point that Geri started care with a chiropractor she had gone to some time ago. Not to give the book away, but in her words the results were, "Miraculous, instantaneous, and amazing."   The drastic change in her life that resulted from her chiropractic care led her to write this book.

Although scientific evidence and studies are always a welcome addition to any health care process, a patient's responses are the ultimate goal. "I Stand Amazed" by Geri Carlson is a testament to how chiropractic can change the lives of people during the darkest of health times.  The book is for sale at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Target.  You can see more information at the book's website at: www.istandamazed.com.



Chiropractic Helps Women Avoid C-Section

From the April 1, 2007 issue of the Monterey Herald  in California comes an article with a story of a woman who was having trouble with her pregnancy.  Jennifer Hernandez was 36 years of age, and 32 weeks pregnant when her obstetrician told her she was facing a Caesarean delivery because the baby in her womb was in a high-risk position. 

Hernandez's obstetrician performed an ultrasound which showed that her baby was 180 degrees from the normal head-down position for birth.  With this news and wanting to avoid a possible C-section, she then sought the services of Dr. Anne Lundquist, a prenatal chiropractor certified since 2001 in the Webster In-Utero Constraint Technique.

Hernandez reported her reaction after starting chiropractic care, "I felt a great relief after the first adjustment." The article then noted that after two sessions with Dr. Lundquist, a new ultrasound showed the baby was in the proper head-down position. "Immediately after the first treatment I felt he moved," Hernandez said.

Dr. Jeanne Ohm, a chiropractor and executive coordinator of the Philadelphia-based International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, the organization that certifies chiropractors in the technique, described the technique by saying, "It reduces interference to the nervous system, balances out pelvic muscles and ligaments, which in turn removes torsion to the uterus. It allows the baby to get into the best possible position for birth."

Dr. Ohm, who has 25 years of chiropractic experience and 10 at teaching the "Webster" technique noted that the  technique doesn't involve any risk.  However, the article did note that the success rate drops if the patients have passed the 34-week mark of their pregnancies.



Post-Surgical Laminectomy Patient Helped With Chiropractic - a Case Study

A case study report documented in the March 19, 2007 issue of the scientific periodical, the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, reported on the case of a 37 year old male who suffered from persistent low back and leg pain following a L4-L5 surgical laminectomy.  The surgery was performed 6 months prior to this case study and the initiation of chiropractic care.

The young man in this study had suffered a work injury 11 months before chiropractic care that resulted in continuous severe lower back pain and numbness in the leg.   Five months after his accident his orthopedic surgeon diagnosed him with an L4 and L5 disk herniation and was told he needed back surgery.  The surgical procedure performed was extensive as the patient underwent a double laminectomy to the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae.  Following the surgery, he was given pain medication and told to take it twice daily.

The surgical procedure was not successful in correcting the patient's pain and finally at 11 months after his initial accident he got a chiropractic examination and x-rays.  The finding showed no pathologies except those created by the surgery.  However, there were significant structural spinal abnormalities and postural issues present. 

Chiropractic care was initiated and continued regularly for several months.  Re-examinations were routinely performed to monitor structural changes and patient progress.  Ultimately, even though this patient has undergone an extensive surgical procedure, he did improve both structurally and in his symptoms and quality of life.  As the researchers in this case explained, the patient improved, "achieving a significant reduction in symptoms not obtained following recent surgery."  A follow up was performed 9 months later and showed that the patient had maintained his structural corrections as well as his symptomatic improvement.



Wheeled Shoes Raise Safety Concerns, Say Chiropractors

The above headline comes from a March 15, 2007 PRNewswire and USNewswire release. The original release from the American Chiropractic Association expresses safety concerns both for the children who use them and others who must dodge children skating in crowded shopping centers and parks.

These sneakers, commonly known as Heelys® are very popular but have been banned in many public places such as stores and malls.

Dr. Steven Conway a Doctor of Chiropractic in Athens, Wisconsin commented in the release, "Parents should be concerned about Heelys® and other wheeled sneakers because of the potential for head, wrist, elbow and ankle injuries due to falls, as well as the possibility of injuries due to altered gait patterns." He continued to explain, "When wearing the shoes on a surface that isn't skatable, children must walk on their toes. This altered gait forces their posture into unnatural positions, and if worn regularly for walking, this could potentially cause strain on growing bodies, especially in the foot, ankle and lower back."

The release also noted that when children are skating with these shoes they place all their weight on their heels which could potentially create another set of issues.

In the article the American Chiropractic Association offered some safety tips when wearing Heelys® and other brands of wheeled shoes.  These recommendations include:

  • Always wear the proper safety equipment including helmets, wrist guards and protective pads.
  • Use the shoes for recreation only -- not for regular wear -- and always remove the wheels when walking in the sneakers.
  • Do not allow children to wear the shoes in crowded malls, near busy streets or other areas where collisions with other pedestrians -- or worse yet, automobiles - could occur. Urge children to be aware of their surroundings and mindful of fellow pedestrians.
  • Remind children to be aware of how their bodies feel. Pain is the first sign of a problem.



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