A case study documenting the improvement from chiropractic for long-term pain and insomnia was published in the April 23, 2018, issue of the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research. This study featured the improvement in overall quality of life for an elderly chiropractic patient who had been suffering for decades.
The study authors begin by noting that the population, in general, is aging. They point out that the number of people 60 years and above, will double globally, reaching 21.1% of the total population, and exceeding 2 billion by the year 2050. They also explain the aging process clearly by saying, “The ability of older adults to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) depends on largely physical functioning. When gait, balance or range of motion (ROM) is impaired, it can have profound and long lasting effects both physically and mentally. Injury and pain are commonly accepted by the older population as a fact of aging. This can result in immobility which may have the possibility of further injury, therefore resulting in loss of independence and lowered quality of life.”
In this case, a 75-year-old woman went to the chiropractor. Her primary complaints included persistent neck and shoulder pain which she had been suffering with for the past 20 years. She attributed the issues to a fall she had about 25 years ago where she suffered a fractured left clavicle.
The woman described her pain as a burning sensation across her upper back and into her lower neck. She rated the pain most times as a 6 out of 10 with 10 being the worst. Occasionally, with movement, the pain would increase to an 8 out of 10. The pain was affecting her daily activities such as sitting for a short time or doing laundry. Her pain was causing problems with her ability to fall asleep or remain asleep. This resulted in her self-medicating with codeine for pain relief in order to be able to sleep. The codeine then caused the woman to suffer with the side effects of waking drowsy and chronic constipation. In addition to her neck pain, she also suffered with chronic lower back pain which often caused pain down her leg.
A chiropractic examination revealed postural anomalies including a forward head carriage. Additionally, her neck range of motion was reduced and uneven. Thermography and surface EMG studies, along with spinal x-rays, were also done and confirmed the presence of subluxations. Specific forms of chiropractic adjustments were started to address the spinal subluxations.
By the second visit, the patient reported that she noticed less pain than before when doing her laundry. On the fourth visit, the woman reported an increase in pain, which was decreased by the next visit. On her seventh visit, her right shoulder pain had resolved and did not return. On her follow-up evaluation, she reported that her shoulder and neck pain were gone. She also reported that her back pain was resolved, and she was able to sit for three hours without pain.
In their discussion, the authors described how correcting subluxation has a positive effect on health. “Chiropractic care aims to optimize health and wellbeing through the enhancement of the nervous system function by removing nerve interference caused by vertebral subluxations. The correction of vertebral subluxations by chiropractic adjustments are a fundamental component of personal enhancement and wellbeing.”
In their conclusion, the authors summed this case up by stating, “This case study demonstrates that chiropractic care has the potential to improve the quality of life, range of motion and chronic pain that is often experienced in the geriatric population.
The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published a case study on June 28, 2018, documenting the long-term improvement of neck curvature and the improvement of autonomic nerve system function in a patient undergoing chiropractic care. The purpose of this study was to examine changes to the neck curvature because of chiropractic care and the resulting changes to autonomic nerve system function.
The study begins with an explanation of the importance between proper biomechanical structure and body function. “The normal alignment of the spine and its complex biomechanics have been subject to investigation in the past decades. There is now a large body of evidence suggesting that the disruption of its alignment has both physiological and anatomical consequences in the human organism.”
A normal upright human spine should have four curves when viewed from the side on x-rays. These curves include a forward curve in the neck, and curve backward in the upper mid spine, and inward forward curve in the lower back, and a forward curve of the base and tail section at the bottom of the spine. An x-ray from the front or back of the spine should show a spine that is straight with little or no deviation to either side.
The curve that seems to be the most susceptible to change and has drawn the most attention in chiropractic is the neck curvature. According to the study, neck curvature loss has been associated with conditions such as ADHD, otitis media, respiratory conditions, neck and upper back pain, low back pain, sinus infections, vertigo, nausea as well as vascular, migraine and tension headaches.
For the purposes of this research, only the objective biomechanical and functional results were reported in this case study. In this case, a 26-year-old man presented himself to the chiropractor for a several musculoskeletal complaints. No previous surgical interventions or medications were reported. Upon meeting the criteria for inclusion of this study, the man underwent a case history interview as well as chiropractic examination using video-fluoroscopy, static film x-rays as well as infrared thermography heat studies.
The static x-rays of the man’s neck showed a reversal of the cervical curvature with an abnormal forward tilting of the man’s top neck bone, called the atlas. Video-fluoroscopy, also known as motion x-rays, of the man’s neck showed multiple locking-type areas of restricted or reduced movement. These two types of x-ray findings verified a structural problem within the man’s spine.
Infrared paraspinal thermography was also performed to record heat variations along the spine from side to side as well as one spinal level to the next. The variations present, along with a consistent pattern of the variation in this man’s spine, demonstrate an effect on the autonomic nervous system which controls heat levels by varying body surface blood supply.
After a period of time of specific forms of chiropractic care being rendered, motion and static x-rays were performed and compared to the initial studies. Periodic infrared paraspinal thermography scans were also performed and compared to the earlier studies.
The results of these follow-up procedures showed improvements in the curvature of the man’s neck to where it changed from a reversed curvature to a slight forward curvature. Additionally, the motion x-rays showed improvement in segmental motion. These x-ray findings document and confirm an improvement in the biomechanical structure of this man’s spine.
The follow-up thermography scans no longer showed an abnormal pattern, and overall showed a reduction toward normal of heat variations. This demonstrated a positive change in the man’s autonomic nerve system function.
This study begins by noting that neck pain is common. Statistics show that 37.2% of the population will experience neck pain lasting over one year’s duration. Over 50% of the population suffers some form of neck pain in their lifetime. Additionally, neck pain is the fourth leading cause of years lost to disability. Women more commonly suffer with neck pain then men.
In this case, a 46-year-old woman with chronic neck pain and left-hand numbness presented herself to a chiropractic clinic. The neck pain was long-term, and the woman could not recall when and how the problem first started. The numbness she was experiencing in her left hand was intermittent with no defined pattern or timing. She had not seen any other type of doctor for these conditions prior to her visit to the chiropractor.
She described the pain as achy and stiff. She initially rated the pain as a 4 out of 10 initially on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is no pain. She noted that her pain worsened after working long hours or traveling for work. However, she reported that none of her daily activities were affected. Massages did give her some short-term relief for the pain.
In addition to her primary complaint of neck pain and hand numbness, she also reported that she experienced low back pain and tingling, and numbness into the toes. She had previously been diagnosed with lumbar disc herniation and was treated by a physical therapist.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included spinal palpation, range of motion, relevant orthopedic and neurological exams, thermographic heat scans, and a postural analysis. Spinal x-rays of her neck were also performed. The x-rays showed moderate degeneration of mid-neck area.
Based upon the examination and x-rays, specific chiropractic care was started. She was initially seen twice per week and adjusted based upon an evaluation performed each visit. After two months of chiropractic care the patient reported a total resolution of her neck pain and the numbness she was experiencing in her left hand.
Neck pain is one of the more common conditions for which people seek chiropractic care. The authors of the study noted, “Chiropractic care has been used to manage numerous musculoskeletal conditions including neck pain. Neck pain accounts for 25% of the initial consultations and examinations rendered at chiropractic offices.”