Posts Tagged ‘chiropractic’

Induced Spinal Cord Compression in Mice

10 June 2013 1 comment

While there have been several pro-chiropractic studies demonstrating the effects of a spinal cord compression, this is a in-lab study done on mice. I am not in favor with animal testing, however this topic is so intriguing that I couldn’t pass it up. The study was designed to essentially observe the cellular effect of a chronic spinal cord compression. To a chiropractor, it is easy to understand that spinal cord compression could be caused by a misaligned vertebra, but in this study they used a artificial calcified mass that  continued to grow as the mice matured. The damaged that was caused by the compression was measured by the tissue response. You might want to catch up on your histology before reading the original.

It is also a nice coincidence that the location they decided to compress the spinal cord was at the C1-C2 region. We should all understand that the body has an intelligence that governs every function. Our body responds to the stresses it receives and compensates accordingly. For the most part, our body processes the stress and regains homeostasis. When there is a compressive force interfering with the communication in our body, it starts to break down. This may include a decreased cellular function or hypersensitivity to stress. As the compression continues to exist, the rest of the body begins to suffer from the decreased communication and compensations occur in various regions. The article demonstrates this breakdown in scientific terms and at the site of compression on a cellular level.

Cervical compressive myelopathy, e.g. due to spondylosis or ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament is a common cause of spinal cord dysfunction. Although human pathological studies have reported neuronal loss and demyelination in the chronically compressed spinal cord, little is known about the mechanisms involved. In particular, the neuroinflammatory processes that are thought to underlie the condition are poorly understood.

I would certainly add “subluxation” to this list of common obstructions to the spinal cord. As for a correction of this compressive force, the article recommended “The only treatment available at present is the surgical removal of the cause of chronic spinal cord compression.” I agree, in part. Remove the interference and restore proper communication and function to the brain and body. In the case of a large calcified mass compressing on the cord, you might need the extreme option. It is much more likely that a misaligned bone may be causing the compression and can be removed by a skilled upper cervical doctor.

If this interest you, read the article. This study was not written by or for chiropractors, however the findings are relevant to chiropractic principles that every effect has an cause, that there can exist an interference caused by subluxation (compression on spinal cord by misaligned vertebrae), and this will cause dis-ease within the body.

Read full article headache



Case Study: Chronic Neck Pain

The purpose of this case study is to demonstrate the application of Cone Beam CT (CBCT) scan as an effective imaging method for highly specific upper cervical chiropractic corrections.

Patient History

A 38 year old male presented to the clinic with a chief complaint of neck pain that has persisted for the past 7-8 years. The pain was progressing and becoming intrusive in his desired lifestyle. The patient stated that when the pain is at it’s worst, it radiates into bilateral shoulders and arms.

The precipitating cause is unknown. However the patient did have a MVA 4-5 years prior to the onset of symptoms and has actively participated in soccer for the past 30 years and recalls several times that the symptoms have increased following games where the head was used to deflect the ball.

The patient listed several associated complaints including lightheadedness and loss of equilibrium causing the patient to stop his routine and rest until the spell has past.

The patient also describes headache symptoms of both a tension headache and classic migraine precipitated by alcohol use. Pt states 2 episodes/week. Family history includes similar symptoms of migraine headaches. There is also mid back pain localized to the thoracic/lumbar region that is most notable in the evening.

Patient utilizes pain medication to manage the neck and headache symptoms, which helps but the problem persists.

Chiropractic Exam

Flexion of the neck causes increased pain refereed to the shoulders and arms. There was a negative sharp purser orthopedic test. Left C1 – C4 point tenderness and inflammation nodules were found at the posterior lateral vertebral joints.

The patient had muscle tightness on the left side of the neck as well as multiple muscle spams of the right upper Trapezius and Levator scapulae.

Posture analysis concluded an elevated left head by 2 cm, even shoulders and a high right hip by 1 cm.

Leg length inequality check revealed a 2 cm right short leg with a positive right c2 challenge.

Cervical temperature pattern was established using a Titron thermographic instrument.

Imaging Analysis

Imaging was ordered utilizing a seated 3D CBCT unit. OnDemand3D software was used for the analysis of the images following a variation of the Blair x-ray analysis.

The Foramen Magnum/Spinal Canal study found a large right rotation of axis. This was confirmed on the 3D view. The simulated protracto views found a double posterior misalignment of atlas. An exceptionally “tilted” atlas was found on the posterior 3D view that is also observed on the frontal generated x-ray view.


Upper cervical chiropractic care following the Blair corrective protocol was elected to correct this upper cervical misalignment. Following the first correction and a 20 min rest period the thermographic scan demonstrated a change. The leg length inequality was found to be normal. The patient commented that he felt a bilateral burning sensation in the lower leg region, following the Achilles tendon.

A follow up visit two days later found the burning sensation in the lower legs continued. Cervical thermographic scan and leg length inequality tests were performed and found to negative. This means that the scan was remarkable different from the pattern that was established prior to care and the legs that were found to be uneven before care were found equal after the initial adjustment and continue to be equal 2 days later. The patient also noted a decrease in neck symptoms.

In all, 4 upper cervical adjustments were given in a 3 month period and the patient continued to improve. The patient experiences fewer and less severe episodes of lightheadedness and reports that the tension headaches have become an infrequent occurrence.


Neck pain is a common finding in the population. It is one of the main reasons people seek chiropractic care. Using a CBCT, the chiropractor will have a clearer understanding of the structures involved and be able to screen for anomalies that make some cases particularly difficult.

As with the case above, many times the cause of neck pain is unknown. It is very plausible that the case above was caused or at least exacerbated by the Motor Vehicle Accident sustained a few years earlier. It is also common to find that little traumas, such as deflecting a soccer ball with your head, can complicate and increase the intensity of the existing problem. Identifying and correcting the underlying cause will yield the best result whether that is correcting a bone, changing a habit or modifying the lifestyle.

The Holy Grail

Cross section of the spinal cord.

Cross section of the spinal cord.

If there is one thing chiropractors can agree on, it is that the nervous system can be disturbed and cause negative effects on the body. There are varying theories as to the reason for this but most chiropractors conclude it is related to the bones in the vertebral column being out of alignment. The Dentate Ligament – Cord Distortion Hypothesis is just one of those theories. This is, to some chiropractors, the Holy Grail to their rational and purpose in caring for patients.

The Dentate Ligament theory follows the premise that the spinal cord is anchored to various points in the vertebral column and chronic mal-positioning of these structures could lead to torsion of the spinal cord. The torsion on the spinal cord may irritate and cause disturbances in transmission of mental signals or impulses leading to a diverse number of symptoms to appear in the person.

If the spinal cord is directly attached to the upper cervical spine, and if the vertebra were put out of alignment, would that cause interference with the nervous system?

Dr. John D. Grostic explains in his research:

This hypothesis states that misalignments of the upper cervical vertebrae, because of their unique attachment to the spinal cord by means of the dentate ligaments, can directly stress and deform the spinal cord. Subsequently, this stress on the cord, in addition to direct mechanical irritation, may produce venous occlusion with stasis of blood and resulting anoxia in particular areas of the upper cervical cord.

Venous occlusion and stasis of blood in the cranial region is something being heavily researched for it implications on neuro-degenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. This is being looked at by vascular surgeons as a possible accessory to the cause of some of these diseases.

The research identifies three “challenges” that validate the presupposition that a misaligned vertebra in the upper cervical region will cause torsion on the spinal cord rendering interference of mental impulses and demonstrating physical and/or neurological manifestations.

Challenge 1

Is the dentate ligament mechanically linked to the osseous structures of the upper cervical spine?

Challenge 2

Is the dentate ligament strong enough to deform the spinal cord?

Challenge 3

Are the osseous misalignments large enough to cause mechanical irritation to the cord?

The author relates positive findings of all three challenges, confirming the theory that the plausibility of a misalignment in the upper cervical region to cause physical and neurological disturbances in the individual.

I encourage you to read the full article to gain a better understanding of how this phenomena is explained.

Read full article


  • Grostic, John D. The Dentate Ligament – Cord Distortion Hypothesis Chiropractic Research Journal published 1988

A Case For Improved Headache Evaluation

Several causes of headaches relate to the alignment of the first two bones of the neck.

Headaches, in general terms, lie on a spectrum from an occasional annoyance to debilitating and causing loss time at work and enjoying family. Headaches come in all shapes and sizes and so do the treatments. There have been studies demonstrating the effectiveness of many types of treatments.

First off, we need to agree that a normal headache does not exist. Headaches are alarms telling you that something is amiss in your body. This could be as subtle as not drinking enough water to experiencing a stroke. If you have headaches, even if they are just occasional, understand that this is not a normal function of the body.

In the study published in the “Headache: The Journal of  Head and Face Pain” on chronic headache due to hypertonic muscles that attach to the dura matter, a surgical intervention was performed to sever the muscles from the spinal cord. The article explains a normally occurring muscle in the sub-occipital region attaches to the spinal cord. The patient, 35 year old male, had a traumatic incident and subsequent tightness of this muscle putting tension and distortion on the spinal cord/brainstem and causing symptoms of a headache. It was noted that since the incident, the patient had developed a poor immune response as evidenced by the frequency of respiratory and intestinal infection.

The intervention was to surgically sever the tight muscle in hopes that this would relieve the tension and torsion on the spinal cord/brainstem and decrease the severity of the headaches. While the intervention was successful in the sense that the muscle was severed and the patient recovered from surgery, the headaches lessened only in intensity, not in frequency. Common side effects of such procedures are described as “post operative headaches”.

The patient’s complaint persists and is a failure on the part of the exam doctor to understand the anatomy and the mechanics involved. The other attachments of this muscle are on the back of the skull and the first bone in the neck – Atlas. It is very probable and likely that during the traumatic incident that the Atlas became misaligned and torqued, a condition called an upper cervical subluxation, pulling on the muscle and various other structures causing distortion of the spinal cord/brainstem. This is evidenced by several features common in an upper cervical subluxation: sudden onset of headaches following a traumatic incident, tight sub-occipital muscles due to misalignment of bone structures, decreased immune response owed to reduced communication of the brain to the body.

Various structures are affected by an upper cervical subluxation.

This is further demonstrated by a failure to only partially reduce the symptoms of a headache. The procedure eliminated one instigating agent but did not address the various other factors of an upper cervical subluxation, so the patient would not be able to fully heal. There is so much happening at this location with skeletal, ligamentous and muscular tissue not to mention the nervous tissue that carries body intelligence to every part of your body. An appropriate evaluation of this area is essential to proper treatment of upper cervical subluxation for the best patient care.

Effective upper cervical care can be accomplished and thousands of patients have been helped by removing the causative agent of many types of headaches. This is done without exposing the patient to chemical drugs, surgery, or other lengthy procedures. Not only do the symptoms subside, the effect is realized throughout the entire body improving the immense response and decreasing blood pressure in many cases. Headaches do not need to interfere with your quality of life. Check out the links on the right for other research and testimonies of patients with headaches and become informed of your treatment options.

Another popular management option that does not address the cause of the symptoms is medication. Medication may silence the symptoms, but the inciting problem persists and you can expect the symptoms to return. The liver and kidneys take the brunt of the effects of the medication and there are almost always negative events in response to these chemicals.

Again there is no such thing as a normal headache. Turning off the alarm without addressing the fire will only result in ashes.

Suspended Nerves

14 February 2012 1 comment

The organization of the body is amazing! Each muscle and ligament has an attachment to another structure and therefore is influenced by or can influence the structure. Everything is tied together and is dependent that each part functions correctly.

I think of a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The road is being suspended by hangers which are themselves suspended by cables. The cables run the length of the bridge and from tower to tower. Each tower provides an anchoring point for the cables but also the rigid structure from which the rest of the bridge can “suspend”. Imagine if one of those towers could pivot. The cables would pull taught or let loose depending on the direction of the pivot. That would cause the road to pull up on the side of increased tension and let down on the opposite. Thus the towers influence the function or dysfunction of the bridge.

There was a study done on where the origin and attachment sites are on each of the cervical nerves. I find it interesting that there are four ligaments that “suspend” each nerve as it passes though the IVF. Each of these ligaments have their own different attachment site and different movements will pull or let loose part of the spinal nerve and therefore cause temporary deformation or obstruction of the nerve. This is normal and the body can tolerate this temporary distortion well. The problem arises when there are chronic mal-positions of these nerves due to misaligned vertebra.

As upper cervical doctors, we have a special interest in the Occipital-Atlas-Axis complex. The article talks about the how the C2 spinal nerve is attached to the transverse process of Atlas. We have seen some wicked rotation films of Atlas, some exceeding 7-8 degrees. I can’t help but wonder how the tension of that ligament is affecting that spinal nerve, not to mention the spinal cord as a whole.

I am so grateful that the knowledge is available so we all can benefit from reducing the subluxation and restore the full functioning potential of the miracle that is our body.

Check out the article for your own enjoyment.

Patient Satisfaction To Upper Cervical Chiropractic Treatment

9 January 2012 5 comments

A study was published by Kirk Eriksen, Rodric Rochester, and Eric Hurwitz in October of 2011 that evaluated patient response to upper cervical chiropractic treatments. This is a unique study as it does not include all chiropractic therapies, but just those that are considered upper cervical specific. What is the difference between the chiropractic therapies? Glad you asked, check out the “About Chiropractic” side menu to learn more.

Read the article for full details but here’s a rundown of things I found interesting:

  • 1090 patients and 83 doctors participated in this study.
  • 28 different chief complaints were represented.
  • It was common to see a worsening of chief complaint initially.
  • Most patients found their undesirable reaction to be mild and last less than 24 hours.
  • The study found that of all the patients that had experienced a systematic reaction other than chief complaint, tiredness was the most common.
  • Patients gave a golden 9.1/10 for overall satisfaction for the care received.
  • A 57% average improvement of low back pain. Interestingly only the neck was adjusted.
  • Over 5 million combined career adjustments were reported by the 83 participating doctors without any serious adverse reaction.

It is typical to experience some undesired reactions such as muscle soreness and weakness or headache, this is only temporarily and in most cases subsides within 24 hours while improving your overall health. Compare that to the medication commercials that list endless side effects, many of them worst than your existing condition. This entertaining “label” could be applied when visiting your upper cervical doctor:

The mean of  9.1/10 satisfaction rating observed in this study is incredible! This is significant in that a 0-10 scale was used to quantify level of satisfaction not just a “yes/no” reply or similar grading system. Combine this with most patients undergoing short term, mild discomfort and an estimated 5 million career adjustments of the participating 83 doctors without any serious adverse reaction, you have yourself a remarkably safe and effective system to treat patients of varying conditions. Upper cervical practitioners are already familiar with this safe and satisfying procedure of care, but the well written study by Erikson et al. illustrates and quantifies how patients perceive the efficacious treatment provided.

Related studies that are not upper cervical specific only:

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