June 2017

Resolution of Chronic Headaches and Neck Pain with Chiropractic

From the May 11, 2017, edition of the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research comes a case study of a woman who had been suffering with long-term headaches and neck pain being helped by chiropractic. Headaches are the most common type of pain and one of the leading reasons that people miss work.

The Mayo clinic website defines tension headaches by saying, "A tension headache is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head that's often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. A tension headache (tension-type headache) is the most common type of headache, and yet its causes aren't well-understood."

This study begins by noting that tension headaches are the most common type of headaches. They report that about 42% of the population suffers headaches. They also note that neck pain is also very common affecting about 70% of the population at some time. People with headaches usually have neck pain in 90% of the cases.

The study lists many types of treatments for headaches including over-the-counter or prescription pharmaceuticals, injections, physiotherapy, massage therapy, spinal manipulation therapy (SMT), and chiropractic adjustments.

Headaches are one of the more common problems that cause people to seek chiropractic. In these cases, it is often found that subluxations are present and there is an alteration to the normal forward neck curvature.

In this case, a 55-year-old woman suffering from chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain and sinus pressure went to the chiropractor. Eight years earlier, she was involved in a car accident where she hit her head. She was also involved in a earlier accident where her head struck the windshield. After this accident, she immediately felt neck and shoulder pain. In addition to these car accidents, the woman was also struck in the face by a hockey puck that was estimated to be traveling at about 90 miles an hour. This injury required 11 sutures.

The woman had been suffering with headaches for the past 4 years. These headaches would get so bad that she described them as pounding, and often caused her to vomit. Her medical doctor told her that these headaches were caused by dust, dirt, and mold.   

An examination was performed that showed elevated blood pressure, a decreased neck range of motion, and other postural irregularities. X-rays were also taken and showed a reversal of what should be a normal forward cervical curve. Additionally, an x-ray from the back of her neck showed that her head was laterally translated to her right making her head look like it had been pushed to her right side. Based upon all the findings, chiropractic care was started.

After 36 visits, the woman was re-assessed to determine the progress that had been made. She reported that her headaches were gone and that her neck pain was reduced to negligible. Her neck range of motion had also returned to normal and no longer caused pain.  A follow-up x-ray from the back of the neck was performed showing that the lateral translation of her head had been corrected.

The authors summed up this case by saying, "This report documents the successful outcome in a 55-year old patient with chronic headaches as well as neck and shoulder pain with a lateral head shift posture."


Scoliosis Reduced in Boy through Chiropractic

The Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published a case study on May 25, 2017, documenting the improvement in scoliosis in a young boy due to receiving chiropractic care. The Mayo Clinic website defines this condition by saying, "Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty."

The study authors begin with an interesting historical overview of scoliosis. "Scoliosis is a word that stems from the ancient Greek word "skolios" which means curved or crooked," note the authors. "The first to describe scoliosis in writing was Hippocrates (460-370 BC)."

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, scoliosis affects 2-3 percent of the population. The primary age of development is between 10 and 15 years. Scoliosis occurs at an even rate between boys and girls but seems to be more severe on average in girls.

Scoliosis is classified into three types: neuromuscular, congenital, or idiopathic.  Neuromuscular scoliosis is when the curvature is secondary to another disease process such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord trauma, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy or spina bifida. Congenital scoliosis is from a vertebrae that mal-forms during the development in the womb. Idiopathic scoliosis accounts for about 80% of all scoliosis and is determined when both neuromuscular and congenital scoliosis have been ruled out. This type is usually diagnosed during puberty.

Medically, the two options for treatment of scoliosis are bracing and surgery. Bracing is not effective for correction of a curvature and is used to try to stop a curve from getting worse up till the point where the patient is fully grown. Surgery is a drastic step that should only be used as a last resort in the most severe of cases. Surgery has many other long term issues and must be weighed against how severe the problem was in the first place.

In this case, a 7-year-old boy with a recent diagnosis of idiopathic scoliosis was brought to the chiropractor. There was no associated pain or complaints. The boy's mother was concerned due to the diagnosis and that she was told her son would need to wear a brace to prevent the curve from getting worse. The child was not taking any medications and had no other health issues.

A chiropractic examination was performed which included postural analysis, orthopedic testing, motion and static palpation, range of motion, and a spinal x-ray.  The tests showed positive findings and the x-ray showed a considerable scoliosis curvature that was measured at 25 degrees. It was determined that there were subluxations present in the boy's spine, so  a series of 16 chiropractic adjustments were given over a 5 week period.

After the 16 adjustments, a second spinal x-ray was taken for comparison. In this new x-ray, the scoliosis had decreased considerably, going from 25 degrees to just 11 degrees for a improvement of 14 degrees. Postural analysis also showed improvements over the initial examination. The boy continued to receive chiropractic adjustments at a reduced schedule.

In their conclusion, the authors of the study wrote, "This case shows a situation in which chiropractic adjustments seem to have a positive effect on reduction of the scoliotic curve in this 7-year-old male. It is possible that the subluxation plays a role in the development of scoliosis and managing them accordingly may improve curvature in certain individuals."


Failed Neck Surgery Helped by Chiropractic

The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published a study on May 18, 2017, documenting the improvement of neck pain and migraines in a patient who had previously undergone neck surgery. Although some people are apprehensive about seeing a chiropractor after having had spinal surgery, this study and many others, along with thousands of clinical accounts, demonstrate that many people who have had spinal surgery receive benefit from chiropractic care.

This study begins by discussing the importance of a normal forward curve in the neck. A normal curve not only helps the neck absorb shock, but helps the head be in a more normal upright position. The authors wrote, "The loss of cervical lordosis and anterior head posture has long been identified with numerous significant health issues. These health issues include cervical, shoulder, and headache pain. The loss of cervical curvature also causes anatomical changes to the cervical spine including a shortening of the anterior or posterior vertebral column."

A loss of the normal cervical curve can also result in long-term degenerative issues. The study points out, "The loss of cervical curve results in degenerative changes to the cervical vertebrae and discs. This degenerative process has been shown to be the result of poor posture, prolonged periods of sitting, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. When the cervical curvature is lost, these degenerative changes can lead to an early increased rate of degeneration and associated cervical pain."

In this case, a 43-year-old woman went to the chiropractor for help with long-term neck pain and stiffness. Over the past 11 years, she had also been suffering with frequent and severe migraines, sleep deprivation, shoulder pain and weight issues. In her history, she noted a past car accident and that her work requires her to stand for 10 hours a day which she believe contributes to fatigue and poor posture.

Her medical history for her pain included steroids and other medications. Additionally, she had spinal surgery where a disc was removed at the level of her 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae, and a fusion was performed. Unfortunalty, these medical approaches did not give the woman any relief. Because of this, she considered chiropractic as her last resort.

A chiropractic examination was performed which included a detailed postural analysis and spinal x-rays. Based upon the findings, specific chiropractic care was started appropriate to the patient's condition and her surgical history.

After 36 visits, an update comparison was performed and revealed that the woman's neck curve had shown a significant 12 degree improvement. Additionally, she reported that she felt improvements in her neck and upper back pain, an increase in her energy level, and an improvement in the frequency, duration, and severity of migraine headaches. Overall, she noted that she felt improvement in the activities of her daily life.

In explaining the results in their conclusion, the authors wrote, "Loss of cervical curve and other postural distortions result in adverse mechanical tension and distortion of tissue. This adverse mechanical tension leads to degeneration of vertebral discs and facet joints." They continued, "In this case study, the patient's posture and spinal alignment were corrected and as a result, the cervical lordosis and left head translation were improved."


Seizures in Child Reduced with Better Quality of Life for Child Due to Chiropractic

On May 15, 2017, the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published a case study documenting the reduction of epileptic seizures in a four-year-old boy as a result of receiving chiropractic care. The Epilepsy Foundation states that "Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures and can cause other health problems." They continue, "Epilepsy is a spectrum condition with a wide range of seizure types and control varying from person-to-person."

The study authors point out that epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases, with the World Health Organization estimating that 50 million people suffer with this condition worldwide. In the United States it is estimated that 2.9 million people of all ages have epilepsy. Each year, 460,000 new cases are diagnosed in children under the age of eighteen years.

The authors offered a technical explanation of epilepsy by stating, "Seizures occur as a result of abnormal and asynchronous distribution of neuronal electrical discharges in the brain and can result from both increased excitatory synaptic neurotransmission or decreased inhibitory neurotransmission."

In children, frontal lobe epilepsy is the second most common type of epilepsy. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for motor functions, voluntary eye movements, speech and language abilities, and social competency. Epilepsy in children is often treated using a variety of antiepileptic drugs. These drugs are not effective in about 20% of the cases and come with a variety of adverse effects including slowed neurological development, decrease in cognitive and executive function, behavior difficulties, and learning disorders.

In this case, a 4-year-old boy was brought to the chiropractor by his mother. The boy had been suffering from daily seizures since birth. His mother was hoping to improve the quality of her son's life by reducing the frequency of his seizures. Shortly after birth, the mother noticed the seizures which seem to occur when her baby woke up from either a nap or deep sleep. The baby boy was later evaluated by his pediatrician and a pediatric neurologist, and was subsequently placed on an anti-epileptic drug. Over the next several months, the medications were changed in a failed attempt to control the seizures. After not seeing results from the medications, the boy was eventually diagnosed with intractable frontal lobe epilepsy at eighteen months of age.

A chiropractic examination was performed which included paraspinal thermography to determine heat variations at the spinal level to help determine when a chiropractic adjustment was needed. After obtaining parental permission, specific chiropractic adjustments were performed to correct vertebral subluxations.

At the second adjustment visit, the mother reported that her son had not had any seizures since receiving his first adjustment. Over a seven month period, the young boy continued to show improvement. His parents reported that they noticed improvements in their son's balance, speech, and a significant decrease in eye rolling. The boy has shown significant improvement in coordination, speech, and overall quality of life. The report noted that his medication has been reduced and the number of seizures the boy was having at the writing of the study had reduced to three to four seizures per week.

In their discussion, the authors point out that this case of chiropractic helping a patient with epileptic seizures is not isolated. "There is a significant body of research regarding chiropractic and seizures. Most are case studies where the chiropractor or patient reports are used to determine outcomes. These studies using chiropractic care show a positive relationship between the use of chiropractic care and the reduction of seizure episodes and associated symptoms."


Glaucoma Patient's Eye Pressure Helped Under Chiropractic Care

On June 1, 2017, the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published a study documenting the improvement in intraocular pressure of a patient who was diagnosed with borderline glaucoma. On their website, the American Academy of Ophthalmology answers the question of what is glaucoma by saying, "Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye's optic nerve. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. That extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, damaging the optic nerve."

The authors of this study report that glaucoma affects between 1% and 3.4% of the population. It is the second leading cause of blindness, behind diabetes. Estimates are that 60.5 million people worldwide had glaucoma in 2010, with that number expected to rise to 79.6 million people suffering with this condition by the year 2020. The medical approach to this problem has been medications designed to reduce intraocular pressure.

In this case, a 40-year-old mother of two went to the chiropractor because she was suffering from numbness in her arms and hands which began two weeks earlier. She rated her symptoms as five out of ten with ten being unbearable. Additionally, she related that she also suffered from a large number of issues that included, neck pain, shoulder pain, dizziness, headaches, migraines, vertigo, anxiety, low back pain, right hip pain and clicking, numbness in the bottom of her feet, chronic fatigue, and cervical and lumbar intervertebral disc problems.

Twelve years earlier, she had what was described as a sledding incident resulting in constant neck tightness from then forward. Her lower back issues began fourteen years earlier when her son was born. She suffered from headaches three times per week for the past 28 years. Several times per year, she would develop a migraine headache that she rates as an eight out of ten in severity. Additionally, she was diagnosed by her ophthalmologist with borderline glaucoma as her steady intraocular pressure was rising, going from 14.5 mmHg to 18 mmHg. 

A chiropractic examination was performed which included a physical examination, paraspinal thermal and static surface electromyography scans, and spinal x-rays. The presence of vertebral subluxations was determined, and specific chiropractic care was started.

A re-examination and assessment was made after about two and a half months of chiropractic care. The patient reported moderate improvement in her low back pain and her headaches. She reported that she noticed much improvement in neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, and dizziness. She also reported total resolution of the numbness she was experiencing in both her hands and feet.

During the course of her care, the woman was asked to rate the improvement of her symptoms. The study records that by the fourth visit, she reported a 30% improvement in her overall condition. On the sixth visit, she reported a 40% improvement. On the thirteenth visit, she reported a 70% improvement, and on the 15th visit, she reported a 90% improvement in her overall condition. She also reported that she was able to avoid carpal tunnel surgery which was previously being considered.  

The woman also had a re-examination with her ophthalmologist about two months into her chiropractic care. It was noted that her progression of elevation in intraocular pressure not only ceased, but reversed. Because of this positive change, her ophthalmologist decided that there was no need for medical intervention


Improvement in Parkinson's Disease Symptoms Following Chiropractic Care

Published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research on June 5, 2017, comes a case study documenting the improvement in symptoms of a patient suffering from Parkinson's Disease. The Parkinson's Disease Foundation defines this condition by stating, "Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time."

The study reports that Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease. About one million people in the U.S. suffer with this condition. Parkinson's typically strikes between the ages of 45 and 65.  It is estimated that between 1.5% and 2.0% of the population after 65 years of age will develop Parkinson's disease. The initial complaints of this condition are difficulty moving and the beginning of tremors.  

Although the mechanism is not medically known, head trauma may be associated with an increase in the prevalence of Parkinson's.  It has been observed that boxers are more likely to develop Parkinson's, such as in the case of the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali. Standard medical treatment for this condition is only focused toward managing the symptoms of the condition.

In this case, a 76-year-old man suffering from Parkinson's disease presented himself to the chiropractor. He had been diagnosed with the condition more than 5 years earlier and was taking ten doses of Leva-dopa medication per day. The man was using a walker for stabilization and mobility.  His symptoms from Parkinson's included right-sided tremors, memory loss, balance issues, constant leg pain, occasional poor circulation, and decreased muscular strength. 

A chiropractic examination was performed which included specific postural analysis, leg length checks, and spinal x-rays. The results of the tests confirmed the presence of subluxation. Specific forms of chiropractic care were begun to address the subluxations and postural findings.

The study records that after the man's first adjustment, he no longer needed his walker for assistance with his walking. He also noted that there was a reduction in his tremors. Over the course of his chiropractic care in the next six months, his symptoms from his Parkinson's continued to improve. The man reported that he responded extremely well to chiropractic care and he considered the improvements in his Parkinson's to be "remarkable". Although the man was still taking medication, his neurologist was able to reduce the quantity of the medication he was taking by almost half.

The authors of this study also reported that they had found ten additional studies of patients with Parkinson's being cared for with chiropractic. All ten of these studies documented a decrease in the symptoms of Parkinson's as well as an improvement in the quality of life for those patients receiving chiropractic care.

In their discussion, the study authors explain these results by stating, "The profession of chiropractic is rooted in the understanding of vertebral subluxation, in which misalignment of the bones of the spinal column can cause torsion and tension on the spinal cord, creating interference in the functioning of the central nervous system and causing symptoms of dis-ease." The use of the term "dis-ease" is intentionally different from disease in that chiropractors see a lack of ease in body function as a precursor to disease processes.

In their conclusion they wrote, "This case presents evidence of a link between vertebral subluxations, postural distortions and the expression of Parkinson's disease and advocates that more research needs to be conducted for healthcare providers to best serve patients with neurodegenerative disorders."