Back Pain: Who Should Be Seen First & WHY

Chiropractor vs. Medical Primary Care Doctor

A report on the scientific literature 


By Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP

William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP

 

Reference: Studin M., Owens W. (2015) Back Pain: Who Should Be Seen First & WHY, Chiropractor vs. Medical Primary Care Doctor, American Chiropractor 37 (9) 50, 52, 54, 56

 

 

 

As Chien and Bajwa(2008)pointed out, one of the most common maladies in our society today is back pain and 97% of the time, the pain is considered mechanical back pain. That is pain that arises from things other than fractures, tumors or infection and is one of the leading causes of visits to primary care medical doctors. Peterson, Bolton and Humphreys (2012), Baliki, Geha, Apkarian, and Chialvo (2008), and Apkarian et al. (2004) all agreed that at any given time, upwards of 10% of the population suffers from back pain and upwards of 80% of those back pain sufferers have chronic problems.  For pain to be considered chronic, it must persist for greater than 6 months.

 

The problems that exist regarding chronic back pain are compounded by an unsuspecting public that historically, initially seeks care from their primary care medical providers who do not have strong grasps on mechanical back pain. According to Apkarian et al. (2004), back problems constitute 25% of all disabling occupational injuries and are the fifth most common reason for visits to the clinic; in 85% of such conditions, no definitive diagnosis can be made. In other words, virtually every time a patient goes to see his/her primary care doctor as a result of his/her chronic back pain, the doctor does not know the cause of the problem, yet treats an area that he/she is not equipped to diagnose.  

 

When we look at the human population on a larger scale and from a medical perspective, we see there is a deficit in spinal education with resultant negative sequellae of chronic back pain.  The above conclusion was drawn by querying allopathic (medical) doctors who have little to no training or experience in treating mechanical back pain, AKA spinal dysfunction of biomechanical origin, AKA chiropractic subluxation complex.  Raissi, Mansoon, Madani, and Rayegani (2006) reported regarding medical providers. Most respondents (92.2%) believed that musculoskeletal education had not been sufficient in general practitioner training courses. Of the respondents, 56.8% had visited at least one disabled patient during the previous month, while 11% had visited more than 10 in the same period, but 84.3% had not studied disabilities. Musculoskeletal physical examination was the most needed educational field cited by general practitioners” (Raissi et al., 2006, p. 167).

 

Day, Yeh, Franko, Ramirez, and Krupat (2007) reported that only 26% of fourth year Harvard medical students had a cognitive mastery of physical medicine.  Schmale (2005) reported, “…incoming interns at the University of Pennsylvania took an exam of musculoskeletal aptitude and competence, which was validated by a survey of more than 100 orthopaedic program chairpersons across the country. Eighty-two percent of students tested failed to show basic competency. Perhaps the poor knowledge base resulted from inadequate and disproportionately low numbers of hours devoted to musculoskeletal medicine education during the undergraduate medical school years. Less than 1⁄2 of 122 US medical schools require a preclinical course in musculoskeletal medicine, less than 1⁄4 require a clinical course, and nearly 1⁄2 (57/122) have no required preclinical or clinical course. In Canadian medical schools, just more than 2% of curricular time is spent on musculoskeletal medicine, despite the fact that approximately 20% of primary care practice is devoted to the care of patients with musculoskeletal problems. Various authors have described shortcomings in medical student training in fracture care, arthritis and rheumatology, and basic physical examination of the musculoskeletal system (p. 251). 

 

With continued evidence of a lack of musculoskeletal medicine and a subsequent deficiency of training in spine care, particularly of biomechanical (subluxation) orientation, the question becomes, “Which profession has the educational basis, training and clinical competence to manage these cases?”  Let’s take a closer look at chiropractic education as a comparison. 

 

Fundamental to the training of doctors of chiropractic is 4,820 hours (compared to 3,398 for physical therapy and 4,670 to medicine) and students receive a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology. As a result, all accredited doctor of chiropractic degree programs focus a significant amount of time in their curricula on these basic science courses. It is so important to practice these courses that the Council on Chiropractic Education, the federally recognized accrediting agency for chiropractic education, requires a curriculum which enables students to be proficient in neuromusculoskeletal evaluation, treatment and management. In addition to multiple courses in anatomy and physiology, the typical curriculum in chiropractic education includes physical diagnosis, spinal analysis, biomechanics, orthopedics and neurology. As a result, students are afforded the opportunity to practice utilizing this basic science information for many hours prior to beginning clinical services in their internships.

To qualify for licensure, graduates of chiropractic programs must pass a series of examinations administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE). Part one of this series consists of six subjects, general anatomy, spinal anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pathology and microbiology. It is therefore mandatory for a chiropractor to know the structure and function of the human body as the study of neuromuscular and biomechanics is weaved throughout the fabric of chiropractic education. As a result, the doctor of chiropractic is expert in the same musculoskeletal genre that medical doctors are poorly trained in their doctoral educationas referenced above.

 

A 2005 study byDeVocht, Pickar, & Wilder concluded through objective electrodiagnostic studies (neurological testing) that 87% of chiropractic patients exhibited decreased muscle spasms.This study validates the reasoning behind the later study that people with severe muscle spasms in the low back respond well to chiropractic care and this prevents future problems and disabilities. It also dictates that care should not be delayed or ignored due to a risk of complications.

 

The above statistic indicates that while medicine cannot conclude an accurate diagnosis in 85% of their back pain patients, chiropractic has already helped 87% of the same population. We also know that chiropractic is one of the safest treatments currently available in healthcare for spinal treatment and when there is a treatment where the potential for benefits far outweighs any risk, it deserves serious consideration. Whedon, Mackenzie, Phillips, and Lurie(2015) based their study on 6,669,603 subjects after the unqualified subjects had been removed from the study and accounted for 24,068,808 office visits. They concluded, “No mechanism by which SM [spinal manipulation] induces injury into normal healthy tissues has been identified”(p. 5).

 

References:

 

1. Chien, J., J., & Bajwa, Z. H. (2008). What is mechanical spine pain and how best to treat it? Current Pain and Headaches Report, 12(6), 406-411

2. Peterson, C. K., Bolton, J., & Humphreys, B. K. (2012). Predictors of improvement in patients with acute and chronic low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 35(7), 525-533.

3. Baliki, M. N., Geha, P. Y., Apkarian, A. V., & Chialvo, D. R. (2008). Beyond feeling: Chronic pain hurts the brain, disrupting the default-mode network dynamics. Journal of Neurosciences, 28(6) http://www.jneurosci.org/content/28/6/1398.full

 4. Apkarian, V., Sosa, Y., Sonty, S., Levy, R., Harden, N., Parrish, T., & Gitelman, D. (2004). Chronic back pain is associated with decreased prefrontal and thalamic gray matter density. The Journal of Neuroscience, 24(46), 10410-10415.

5. Raissi, G. R., Mansoon, K., Madani, P., & Rayegani, S. M. (2006). Survey of general practitioners’ attitudes toward physical medicine and rehabilitation. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 29(2), 167-170.

6. Day, C. S., Yeh, A. C., Franko, O., Ramirez, M., & Krupat, E. (2007). Musculoskeletal medicine: An assessment of the attitudes of medical students at Harvard Medical School. Academic Medicine, 82(5), 452-457.

7. Schmale, G. A. (2005). More evidence of educational inadequacies in musculoskeletal medicine. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 437, 251-259.

 8. DeVocht, J. W., Pickar, J. G., & Wilder, D. G. (2005). Spinal manipulation alters electromyographic activity of paraspinal muscles: A descriptive study.Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics, 28(7), 465-471.

 9. Whedon, J. M., Mackenzie, T. A., Phillips, R. B., & Lurie, J. D. (2015). Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66-69 years. Spine, 40(4), 264-270.

 

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Published in Low Back Problems

Chiropractic Can Prevent Absenteeism in the Workplace from Chronic Pain

 

  • A Potential Savings of $140 - $159,000,000,000 (billion) in Unnecessary Health Care Expenditure to Federal and Private Insurers
  • A Potential Savings of $52 - $58,000,000,000 (billion) from Absenteeism and Lowered Productivity to the United States Economy

 

 

A report on the scientific literature 


 

By Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP

 

According to Cady (2014) over 100 million Americans experience chronic pain with common painful conditions including back pain, neck pain, headaches/migraines, and arthritis, in addition to other painful conditions such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, etc...In a large study in 2010, 30.7% of over 27,000 U.S. respondents reported an experience of chronic, recurrent pain of at least a 6-month duration. Half of the respondents with chronic pain noted daily symptoms, with 32% characterizing their pain as severe (≥7 on a scale ranging from 0 to 10). Chronic pain has a broad impact on emotional well-being and health-related quality of life, sleep quality, and social/recreational function.

Peterson ET. AL. (2012) reported, “The … prevalence of low back pain is stated to be between 15% and 30%, the 1-year period prevalence between 15% and 45%, and a life-time prevalence of 50% to 80%” (pg. 525).  Apkarian Et. Al. (2004) reported that “Ten percent of adults suffer from severe chronic pain. Back problems constitute 25% of all disabling occupational injuries and are the fifth most common reason for visits to the clinic; in 85% of such conditions, no definitive diagnosis can be made.” (pg. 10410) The reference to no definitive diagnosis is reflective of allopathy, or in common terms, the medical community.

 

 

In contrast, Peterson ET. AL. (2012) reported “investigate outcomes and prognostic factors in patients with acute or chronic low back pain (LBP) undergoing chiropractic treatment. In chronic LBP, recent studies indicate that significant improvement is often fairly rapid, usually by the fourth visit, and that patients initially receiving treatment 3 to 4 times a week have better outcomes. Patients with chronic and acute back pain both reported good outcomes, and most patients with radiculopathy (neurogenic) also improved” (pg. 525). “At 3 months, 69% of patients with chronic pain stated that they were either much better or better. This is unlikely to be due to the natural history of low back pain because these patients have already passed the period when natural history occurs “(pg. 531).  As a note, this author has been caring for chronic back pain sufferers for 34 years and my personal observation is that 90%+ of all patients feel better and have significantly increased function in a short amount of time. However, for the purposes of this article, I will utilize the published 69%.  

 

Cady (2014) wrote “In addition to the pervasive personal suffering associated with this disease, chronic pain has a substantial negative financial impact on the economy. Direct office visits, diagnostic testing, hospital care, and pharmacy costs are only a portion of the picture, with combined medical and pharmacy costs averaging $5,000 annually per individual (Pizzi, 2005). Chronic pain results in a significant economic burden on the healthcare system, with estimated costs ranging from $560 to $635 billion 2010 dollars, more than the annual cost of other priority health conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes (Gaskin & Richard, 2012). Moreover, the estimated annual costs of the workplace impact of pain range from $299 to $335 billion from absenteeism and reduced productivity (Gaskin & Richard, 2012).” (pg. 1-2)

 

We have already established that 10% of adults suffer from chronic pain and that back pain constitutes 25% of that population and chiropractic helps 69% of chronic sufferers. Therefore if 25% of all chronic pain is back pain and chiropractic helps 69%, then the numbers extrapolate as follows: 

 

Economic burden on the healthcare system:

$560-$635 billion x 25% (back pain) = $140-$159 billion

$140-$159 billion x 69% (chiropractic helps) = $97-$110,000,000,000 (billion)

 

Absenteeism and Reduced Productivity Costs

$299-$335 billion x 25% (back pain) = $75-$84 billion

$75-$84 billion x 69% (chiropractic helps) = $52-$58,000,000,000 (billion)

 

We also know that chiropractic is one of the safest treatments currently available in healthcare and when there is a treatment where the potential for benefits far outweighs any risk, it deserves serious consideration. Whedon, Mackenzie, Phillips, and Lurie (2015) based their study on 6,669,603 subjects after the unqualified subjects had been removed from the study and accounted for 24,068,808 office visits. They concluded, “No mechanism by which SM [spinal manipulation] induces injury into normal healthy tissues has been identified (Whedon et al., 2015, p. 5).

 

Unfortunately, the likelihood that a medical provider in any subspecialty will encounter chronic pain and its complications will only increase in the future as the population advances in age and body mass. In addition, based upon the statistics there needs no extrapolation as to who should be the primary spine care provider or first option to treat chronic back pain or any mechanical back pain (no fracture, tumor or infection). We have verified that allopathy (medical doctors) not being able to conclude a diagnosis 85% of the time, where chiropractic has verified diagnosis and solutions 69% (or my 90% +) in verified scientific outcomes.

 

 

The conclusions are not an indictment against medicine, it is a conclusion based upon science to put billions back into our economy while first helping those in chronic pain with a “best outcome” solution.

 

 

References:

  1. Block, C. K. (2014). Examining neuropsychological sequelae of chronic pain and the effect of immediate-release oral opioid analgesics (Order No. 3591607). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1433965816). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1433965816?accountid=1416
  2. Peterson C., Bolton J., Humphreys K., (2012) Predictors of Improvement in Patients With Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain Undergoing Chiropractic Treatment, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 35(7) 525-533
  3. Apkarian V., Sosa Y., Sonty S., Levy R., Harden N., Parrish T., Gitelman D., (2004) Chronic Back Pain Is Associated with Decreased Prefrontal and Thalamic Gray Matter Density, The Journal of Neuroscience, 24(46) 10410-10415
  4. Whedon, J. M., Mackenzie, T. A., Phillips, R. B., & Lurie, J. D. (2015). Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66-69 years. Spine, 40(4), 264-270.

 

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Published in Low Back Problems

Case Report

 

By: Karen M. Callaghan, DC

Title: Spinal Adjustments are Safe in the Presence of Herniated disc with the Absence of Cord Compression

Abstract: The objective was to explore the use of MRI to increase the efficacy and safeness of adjusting the cervical spine in the presence of a disc herniation when there is no evidence of cord compression on MRI.

Key Words: Chiropractic, spinal adjustment, MRI, herniation

Introduction:  A 30 year old male patient presented to the office on 1/8/14 with injuries from a motor vehicle accident.  The motor vehicle accident had occurred 3 weeks prior to his first visit.  The patient was the restrained front seat passenger.  The car he was travelling in struck another car and the patient’s car was flipped over onto its roof.  While the car remained on its roof the patient was able to crawl out and awaited medical attention.  The patient was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was examined and testing was ordered.  The patient had multiple CT scans of the head and X-rays of the cervical and lumbar.  The CT of the head revealed a nasal fracture and the patient underwent immediate surgery to repair his broken nose. 

The patient presented three weeks post-accident with persistent and progressive daily occipital headaches, neck pain into the shoulders bilaterally, upper back pain and lower back pain that radiates into the legs and down into the feet bilaterally. He has swelling at the left anterior knee and bandages around the right elbow and two black eyes. 

The patient states that he was having difficulty with regular activities of daily living including walking for more than 15-20 minutes, long periods of standing, more than an hour of sitting, any bending or lifting and any regular daily chores.  The patient also states he was having difficulty getting a restful night’s sleep due to the pain.  The patient’s visual analog scale rating was 10 out of 10.

History: The patient denied any prior history of neck or back pain.  No reported prior injuries or traumas.

Objective Findings:  An examination was performed and revealed the following:

            Range of Motion: 

Cervical Motion Studies:

Flexion: Normal=60                      Exam-   25 with pain  with spasm 

Extension: Normal=50                  Exam-   20 with pain  with spasm

Left Rotation: Normal=80             Exam-   35 with pain  with spasm

Right Rotation: Normal=80           Exam-   35 with pain  with spasm

Left Lat. Flex: Norma=-40             Exam-   15 with pain  with spasm

Right Lat. Flex: Normal=40           Exam-   15 with pain  with spasm

 

Dorsal-Lumbar Motion Studies:

Flexion: Normal=90                  Exam-   35 with pain   with spasm

Extension: Normal=30              Exam-   10 with pain  with spasm 

Left Rotation: Normal=30         Exam-   10 with pain  with spasm

Right Rotation: Normal=30       Exam-   5 with pain  with spasm 

Left Lat. Flex: Normal=20         Exam-   5 with pain  with spasm 

Right Lat. Flex: Normal=20       Exam-   5 with pain  with spasm 

 

               

Orthopedic Testing

The orthopedic testing revealed the following positive orthopedic tests in the cervical spine: Valsalva’s indicating the presence of a disc at L4-S1 and the lower cervical region, foraminal compression indicating radicular pain in the lower cervical region, Jackson’s compression , shoulder depressor and cervical distraction all indicating pain in the lower cervical region.  The lumbar testing revealed a positive Soto-Hall with pain at the L4-S1 level, Kemps positive with pain from L4-S1, Straight Leg raiser with pain at 60 degrees, Milgram’s with pain at the L5-S1 level, Lewin’s with pain at L5-S1, and Nachlas eliciting pain in the L5-S1 region.

 

Neurological Testing

The neurological exam revealed bilateral upper extremity tingling and numbness into the shoulder on the left and down the right arm into the hand. The lower extremity revealed tingling and numbness into the gluteal’s bilaterally with left sided radicular pain in to the leg into left foot.  The pinwheel revealed hypoesthesia at C7 bilaterally and L5 bilaterally dermatome level. The patient was unable to perform the heel-toe walk

The chiropractic motion palpation and static palpation exam revealed findings  at C 1,2 , 5, 6, 7 and T 2,3,4,9, 10  and L 3,4,5 as well as the sacrum.

X Ray  Studies:

The hospital had cervical x-rays and a CT of the head on the day of the accident. Thoracic and lumbar studies were needed as a result of the positive testing and the patients history and complaints The x-ray studies revealed a reversed cervical curve and misalignment of the C1,2,5,6,7 and the lumbar studies revealed a mild IVF encroachment at L5-S1 with rotations at L3,4,5.

The results of the exam were reviewed.  The patient’s positive orthopedic testing, neurological deficits coupled with the decreased range of motion and positive chiropractic motion and static palpation indicated the necessity to order both cervical[1]and lumbar[2]  MRI’s4.

 MRI results

The MRI images were personally reviewed.  The cervical MRI revealed a right paracentral disc herniation at the level of C5-6 with impingement on the anterior thecal sac.  There is also a C6-7 disc bulge impinging on the anterior thecal sac. The lumbar MRI revealed an L5-S1 disc herniation.  There are disc bulges at from L2-L4.

                  CERVICAL MRI STUDIES

LUMBAR MRI IMAGES

Treatment Plan:

After reviewing the history, examination, prior testing, x-rays, MRI’s and DOBI care paths3 it was determined that chiropractic adjustments6  wereclinically indicated

The patient was placed on a treatment plan of spinal manipulation with modalities including intersegmental traction, electric muscle stimulation and moist heat.  Diversified technique was used to adjust the subluxation diagnosed levels of C1,2,5,6,7 and L3,4,5.  Although there were herniated and bulging discs present in the cervical and lumbar spine there was no cord compression. Therefore; there was no contraindication to performing a spinal adjustment.  As long as there is enough space between the cord and the herniation or bulge then it is generally safe to adjust.5

The patient responded quite favorably to the spinal adjustments and therapies over the course of 6 months of treatments.  Initially, the patient was seen three times a week for the first 90 days.  The patient demonstrated subjective and objective improvement and his care plan was adjusted accordingly and reduced to two visits per week for the next 90 days of care.  His range of motion returned to 90% of normal:

Range of Motion: 

Cervical Motion Studies:

Flexion: Normal=60                      Exam-   55 with no pain 

Extension: Normal=50                  Exam-   40 with mild tenderness

Left Rotation: Normal=80             Exam-   75 with mild tenderness

Right Rotation: Normal=80           Exam-   75 with mild tenderness

Left Lat. Flex: Norma=-40             Exam-   35 with no pain 

Right Lat. Flex: Normal=40           Exam-   35 with no pain

 

Dorsal-Lumbar Motion Studies:

Flexion: Normal=90                  Exam-   80 with tenderness

Extension: Normal=30              Exam-   25 with tenderness 

Left Rotation: Normal=30         Exam-   25 with no pain

Right Rotation: Normal=30       Exam-   25 with no pain

Left Lat. Flex: Normal=20         Exam-   20 with no pain 

Right Lat. Flex: Normal=20       Exam-   20 with no pain

 

The patient had decreased spasm, decreased pain, increased ability to perform ADL’s and his sleep had returned to normal. The patient states that he was no longer having the same difficulties with regular activities of daily living.  He was now able to walk for 45 minutes to 1 hour before the lower back pain flared up, he is able to stand for 1-2 hours before the lower back pain begins, he is able to sit for an hour or more before the lower back pain flares up. When the patient bends or lifts he has learned to use his core and lifts less than 20-30 pounds to avoid exacerbating his low back.  The patient also states he was no longer having difficulty getting a restful night’s sleep.  The patient’s visual analog scale rating was 3 out of 10.

Conclusion:

The patient presented 3 weeks post trauma with cervical and lumbar pain as well as headaches.  The symptoms were progressing and the pain was radiating into the upper and lower extremities.  The history and exam indicated the presence of a herniated disc in the lower lumbar and cervical region.  Cervical and lumbar MRI’s were ordered to identify the presence of the herniated disc as well as to determine whether or not the patient should be adjusted.  The MRI results of both the cervical and lumbar MRI revealed herniated discs, however, because these discs were not causing cord compression it was safe to adjust the cervical and lumbar spine5.

Competing Interests:  There are no competing interests in the writing of this case report.

 

De-Identification: All of the patient’s data has been removed from this case.

 

References

  1. New England Journal of Medicine; Cervical MRI, July 28, 2005, Carette S. and Fehlings M.G.,N Engl J Med 2005; 353:392-399MRI for the lumbar disc, March 14  2013, el Barzouhi A., Vleggeert-Lankamp C.L.A.M., Lycklama à Nijeholt G.J., et al., N Engl J Med 2013; 368:999-1000 http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/pipinfo/carepat1.htm -16.7KB
  2. New England Journal of Medicine; Cervical-Disk HerniationN Engl J Med 1998; 339:852-853September 17, 1998DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199809173391219
  3. Is It Safe to Adjust the Cervical Spine in the Presence of a Herniated Disc? By Donald Murphy, DC, DACAN, Dynamic Chiropractic, June 12, 2000, Vol. 18, Issue 13
  4. Treatment Options for a Herniated Disc;  Spine-Health, Article written by:John P. Revord, MD

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Published in Case Reports

Case Report


by Donald Capoferri DC, DAAMLP


Title: The Efficacy of Chiropractic Adjustments in the care of Migraine Headache with patients presenting with cervical disc bulge. 


Abstract: Objective: To explore the efficacy of chiropractic adjustments, and non-surgical spinal decompression in the treatment of cervical spine disc conditions presenting as neck pain, migraine headache, dizziness and visual disturbances. Diagnostic studies included physical examination, computer aided range of motion, orthopedic and neurological examinations, plain film x-ray studies, brain MRI, cervical spine MRI examinations.  Treatments included specific spinal adjustments, low level laser therapy and spinal decompression.  The patient’s outcome proved excellent in reduction of neck pain, headache severity and frequency as well as elimination of dizziness and visual disturbances.


Key Words: Migraine, chiropractic adjustment, disc bulge, spinal decompression.


Introduction: On 11/19/13 a 37-year-old female presented for examination and treatment of neck pain, migraine headaches with associated dizziness and visual disturbances.  The patient denies and recent injuries. 

Presenting Concerns: The patient reports neck pain in the cervical occipital region as a 4 on the Verbal Analog Scale of 0 meaning the complete absence of pain and 10 being unbearable pain.  The duration of the current symptom picture is 2 years and 1 month.  The patient further reports episodic migraine headaches starting at the upper cervical region and progressing into her occipital area.  These episodes are accompanied by dizziness and visual disturbances described as kaleidoscope vision.  At the time of the initial consultation these episodes were occurring 2-3 times per week.  The patient reports being afraid to drive her car due to concerns about headache onset.  The patient reports past consultations with her medical doctor who diagnosed her with vertigo and previous chiropractic care without results.  The records from both consultations were reviewed personally. 

Clinical Findings:  The patient presents with complaints of neck pain, headaches, dizziness and visual disturbances of 2 years duration.  The patient is a 37-year-old female who is a mother of 2.  The ages are 16 and 3.  

Her vital signs are:

Height - 5 ft. 0 inches

Weight - 130 lbs.

Handedness - R

Blood Pressure - L - 107 systolic and 78 diastolic 

Radial Pulse - 75 BPM

The patient’s Review of Systems and Family History were unremarkable.

Palpation/Spasm/Tissue changes:  The patient was evaluated by palpation and observation with the following findings: Bilateral cervical spine spasms rated at +2 in the cervical-occipital region.  Orthopedic testing was unremarkable.  Range of motion examination revealed mildly decreased left lateral flexion, moderately decreased flexion, right lateral flexion and extension. No pain was produced during range of motion examination.

Neurological Examination: Biceps, Triceps and Brachioradialis reflexes were rated at a +2 bilaterally.  Sensory examination revealed normal sensation bilaterally for dermatomes C-5 through T1.  Motor/Muscle testing revealed 5 out of 5 bilaterally for Deltoids, Biceps, and Triceps, Forearm and Intrinsic Hand muscles.



Radiographic findings: reversal of the cervical curve with altered C5/C6 disc space is noted. (Fig. 1, (A) (B) A small osteophyte is observed on the posterior inferior body of C5.  Flexion malposition of C5 is also noted.  (Fig. 1, (B).

Fig. 1,  (A), (B) show loss of the cervical lordosis, flexion malposition of C5, partial collapse of C5/6 anterior disc space.





Fig. 1. (B) shows upon magnification a small posterior-inferior osteophyte.





Fig. 2,  (A), (B) shows in T2 MRI images (A) is Sagittal and (B) is Axial a 

C5/6 central disc herniation contacting the ventral cord. 


Diagnostic Focus and Assessment: 
Diagnoses considered are: Brain Tumor, Cervical Disc Displacement, and Cervical-cranial     syndrome.  A brain MRI was ordered and produced normal findings.  Diagnostic reasoning included the C5/C6 disc/osteophyte complex and the encroachment into the ventral aspect of the central canal and contact with the cervical spinal cord. (1) Peter J. Tuchin, GradDipChiro, DipOHS, Henry Pollard, GradDipChiro, GradDipAppSc, Rod Bonillo, DC, DO.  Received 29 June 1999.  Another consideration was the treatment schedule because the patient lives 60 miles west of the clinic and 2 treatments was the ordered therapeutic schedule.

Therapeutic Focus and Assessment:  Assessment of the cervical spine MRI both sagittal and axial views of the C5/C6 and C6/C7 segmental levels revealed adequate space between the cervical cord and posterior vertebral elements.  It was determined that conservative management of this patient was appropriate.  Therapeutic focus was reducing the pressure of the C5/C6 disc/osteophyte complex on the ventral cord.  Promoting healing of damaged nerve tissue and restoring more favorable position and motion of vertebral segments C5/C6.  The modalities used to treat this patient were:

1.     Specific Spinal Adjustments: utilizing a Sigma Precision Adjusting Instrument to introduce a percussive force of 20 lbs. with a maximum of impact number of 50.

2.     Spinal Decompression: A Hill Spinal Decompression table was utilized with 8 lbs. of pull maximum and a cycle of 5 minute at maximum and 5 minutes at reduction to 50% over a 25 minutes treatment session.  The patient completed 18 sessions in total.  

3.     Low Level Laser Therapy was used to promote healing on a cellular level using a Dynatron Solaris system.  Treatments consisted of 30 seconds of exposure to an 860-nanometer beam at C5/C6 and C6/C7 levels.

Follow-up and Outcomes: The patient’s compliance to the treatment schedule as rated at 9 of 10.  Completion of the recommended 18 treatments required 1 week longer than anticipated.  For personal reasons the patient missed 2 treatment sessions but made them up by adding a week to the estimated completion date. Upon discharge examination the patient reports her neck pain on the Verbal Analog Scale a 2 of 10 with 0 being the complete absence of pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable. She further reported her headaches as a 1 on the Verbal Analog Scale.  Both symptoms were constant since 10/01/11.  This is duration of 25 months prior to her first visit. Her symptoms of dizziness and visual disturbances have been absent since 12/13/13.

Discussion: Headaches and Migraine Headaches are a big health     problem. It has been estimated that 47% of the adult population have headache at least once within last year in general.  More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine. American employers lose more than $13 billion each year as a result of 113 million lost workdays due to migraine. (2) Schwartz BS1, Stewart WF, Lipton RB.

              J Occup Environ Med. 1997 Apr; 39(4): 320-7.

 This case report is very limited because it represents the experience and clinical findings for just 1 patient. However a study of the references included with this report as well as reports by care providers as well as testimonials from patients indicates that more study should be invested in the relationship of the cervical spine, its structures and biomechanics during the diagnostic workup on headache and migraine patients.  

Informed Consent: The patient provided a signed informed consent.

Competing Interests: There are no competing interests writing of this case report.

De-Identification: All the patient’s related data has been removed from this case report.

References:

1. Schwartz BS1, Stewart WF, Lipton RB.

J Occup Environ Med. 1997 Apr; 39(4): 320-7.

Lost workdays and decreased work effectiveness associated with headache in the workplace.

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (2010, July). Human musculoskeletal system. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musculoskeletal

2. Vernon, H., Humphreys, K., & Hagino, C. (2007). Chronic mechanical neck pain in adults treated by manual therapy: A systematic review of change scores in randomized clinical trials, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 30(3), 215-227.


3. Peter J. Tuchin, GradDipChiro, DipOHS, Henry Pollard, GradDipChiro, GradDipAppSc, Rod Bonillo, DC, DO.  Received 29 June 1999

A randomized controlled trial of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine


4.Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP, William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP Chronic Neck Pain and Chiropractic. A Comparative Study with Massage Therapy.

5. D’Antoni AV, Croft AC. Prevalence of Herniated Intervertebral Discs of the Cervical Spine in Asymptomatic Subjects Using MRI Scans: A Qualitative Systemic Review. Journal of Whiplash & Related Disorders 2006; 5(1):5-13.

6.  Murphy, D. R., Hurwitz, E. L., & McGovern, E. E. (2009). A nonsurgical approach to the management of patients with lumbar radiculopathy secondary to herniated disk: A prospective observational cohort study with follow-up. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 32(9), 723-733.

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Published in Case Reports

Case Report

By David DePaolis, DC, DAAMLP   

   

Title: Abatement of radiculopathy clinical signs and symptoms after chiropractic treatment in an older patient with trauma induced posterolateral disc herniation, superimposed on an underlying disc bulge.

 

Abstract: Objective: To examine the concomitant clinical diagnosis of a lumbar disc bulge and lumbar disc herniation at the same spinal level, in an older traumatically injured patient with radicular symptoms. Diagnostic studies include physical examination, including orthopedic and neurological examination, lumbar MRI without contrast, and plain film x-rays. Treatments included low force instrument adjusting without manual manipulation, diversified chiropractic manipulation, flexion-distraction treatment, intersegmental traction, electric muscle stimulation, ice, heat and massage/trigger point therapy. The patient’s outcome was very good and resulted in complete abatement of initial L5 paresthesia and radiating symptoms into the left leg, although mild lower back pain remained upon discharge from active treatment.

 

Key words: Lumbar posterolateral disc herniation, nerve root compression, lumbar radiculopathy, bulging lumbar disc

 

Introduction: A 63 year old, 6’ 0”, 193lbs., male was seen for a chief complaint of lower back pain radiating into the left leg with numbness in the dorsum of the left foot which started immediately following a motor vehicle accident with a frontal impact. During the collision, he reported his right knee struck the dashboard and his head struck the ceiling of his vehicle causing him to briefly lose consciousness. The patient additionally reported immediate neck and right knee pain. He was taken via ambulance to the hospital where he was evaluated, x-rayed, given medications and released the same day. He was unable to work as a bailiff in a courthouse due to worsening pain and after 3 days sought treatment in my office.

 

The patient noted that prior to the accident he did not have any physical limitations and that he played soccer weekly. He was observed to have a trim, fit build. He reported no prior motor vehicle accidents or other serious injury. He reported no previous neck or lower back pain and denied the use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.

 

 

Clinical Findings: Lasague’s, Braggard’s and Kemps orthopedic testing was positive on the left and lumbar motion was decreased approximately 60% collectively. Lasague’s and Braggard’s revealed an increase in radiating pain into the left leg and Kemps was positive bilaterally for pain into the left lower extremity. These orthopedic tests were positive indicating nerve root irritation. Dermatomal evaluation revealed a decreased sensation in the dorsum of the left foot representing the L5 dermatome. Motor evaluation revealed a weakness when attempting to walk on the heel of the left foot and weakness of the left extensor hallicus longus muscle, again indicating possible L5 nerve root compromise. Lumbar x-rays revealed a severe decrease of the normal lumbar lordosis, mild L3-L4 spondylosis (arthritis) and a posterior misalignment of L4 in relation to L5. The patient’s review of systems, surgical and family history were all unremarkable as reported.

 

Therapeutic Focus and Assessment: A non-contrast lumbar spine MRI was ordered immediately with 2 mm slice thickness and no gap in between slices on a 1.5 Tesla machine for optimal visualization of pathology due to the clinical presentation of left L5 nerve root compression. Lumbar MRI’s revealed a L4-L5 broad-based left posterolateral disc herniation superimposed on an underlying disc bulge with severe left lateral recess narrowing, compressing the descending left L5 nerve root.

 

 

Note: the findings of a disc bulge AND disc herniation at the same spinal level do not contradict each other. Patients often have an underlying disc bulge (degenerative thinning of the outer fibers (annulus) of the disc causing “bulging”). When subject to trauma, a focal displacement of disc material through a tear in the annular fibers, disc herniation, then occurs through the thinned annulus of the bulging disc. Further, a bulging disc is actually more likely to herniate with trauma due to the thinning of the annulus than a normal healthy disc.

 

          Definition –Bulging disc: A disc in which the contour of the outer anulus extends, or appears to extend, in the horizontal (axial) plane beyond the edges of the disc space, over greater than 50% (180 degrees) of the circumference of the disc and usually less than 3mm beyond the edges of the vertebral body apophyses. (Ref. 2)

 

          Definition - Herniated disc: Localized displacement of disc material beyond the normal margins of the intervertebral disc space. (Ref. 2)

Again, the key distinction is the localized (aka focal displacement) of disc material that differentiates a herniated disc from a bulging disc. Or stated this way,“The bulging disk is defined as a disk that extends diffusely beyond the adjacent vertebral body margins in all directions” (Ref. 1)

 

Follow-up and Outcomes: Upon discovery of a L4-L5 posterolateral disc herniation compressing the left L5 nerve root finding on MRI evaluation, the patient was referred for neurologic consult. The neurologist diagnosed a left L4-L5 radiculopathy after a positive lower extremity EMG/NCV study was performed.

 

Radiculopathy is a general term used to describe any disease of the nerve roots. In this case, the cause of the radiculopathy was a traumatically induced lumbar posterolateral disc herniation.

 

Definition – Radiculopathy: Sometimes referred to as a pinched nerve, it refers to compression of the nerve root - the part of a nerve between vertebrae. This compression causes pain to be perceived in areas to which the nerve leads.(Ref. 3)

 

The patient underwent approximately 5 months of active chiropractic treatment after which an ordered gap in treatment of approximately 7 weeks occurred. After the gap in treatment, the patient reported they continued to experience no remaining radicular symptoms and re-evaluation showed no remaining clinical findings consistent with radiculopathy. However, the patient did report continuing to experience mild, intermittent lower back pain.

 

 

DISCUSSION: It is appropriate to immediately order MRI imaging in patients with a history of trauma leading to sudden onset of obvious clinical signs and symptoms of radiculopathy to ascertain an accurate diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan. Is it important to understand the difference between herniated and bulging disc findings on MRI evaluation and that herniation can and does occur after a pre-existing disc bulge at the same spinal level. The patient in this case experienced immediate onset of radicular symptoms after trauma and was promptly evaluated with a lumbar MRI. The lumbar MRI confirmed a disc herniation compressing the left L5 nerve root as well as an underlying disc bulge.  EMG testing confirmed the radiculopathy diagnosis at L4-L5 on the left. Chiropractic treatment resulted in a very favorable outcome aided by an accurate diagnosis.

 

 

SUMMARY: Lumbar posterolateral disc herniation (interestingly, the most common type of disc herniation – Ref. 4) can affect a lumbar nerve root, causing radiculopathy. Further, “The stress of annulus circumference is higher at the posterolateral region than that of other regions of annulus circumference” – (Ref. 5). I report a case of a healthy 64 year old male who presented with lower back pain radiating into the left leg with no relevant personal or family history or previous trauma, after a front impact collision while driving in which his right knee struck the dashboard. The patient showed immediate clinical signs and symptoms of lumbar disc herniation and left L5 radiculopathy. A lumbar MRI without contrast was ordered immediately and revealed a L4-L5 left posterolateral disc herniation superimposed on an underlying disc bulge, compressing the left L5 nerve root. Subsequent EMG testing confirmed a left L4-L5 radiculopathy. The diagnosis of herniation and disc bulge does not mean the herniation was pre-existing, as bulging discs are a risk factor for disc herniation due to a thinner, weaker annulus. The patient's history of no previous trauma and sudden onset of lower back pain radiating into the left leg, confirm the traumatic cause of the posterolateral disc herniation. Conservative chiropractic treatment was effective at eliminating all radicular signs and symptoms, even after an approximate 2 month gap in active treatment. Chiropractic care has been shown to be both safe and effective in treating patients with disc herniation and accompanying radicular symptoms. (Ref. 6, 7, 8, that can be reviewed for further study and investigation)

 

Informed consent: The patient provided a signed informed consent.

 

Competing Interests: There are no competing interests writing this case report.

 

 

De-Identification: All patient related data has been removed from this case report.

References:

  1. Milette PC. The proper terminology for reporting lumbar intervertebral disk disorders. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 1997;18:1859-66.
  1. David F. Fardon, MD, Alan L. Williams, MD, Edward J. Dohring, MD. Lumbar disc nomenclature: version 2.0 Recommendations of the combined task forces of the North American Spine Society, the American Society of Spine Radiology and the American Society of Neuroradiology. The Spine Journal 14 (2014) 2525–2545
  1. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/radiculopathy
  1. Gopalakrishnan N1, Nadhamuni K2, Karthikeyan T3 Categorization of Pathology Causing Low Back Pain using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) J ClinDiagn Res. 2015 Jan;9(1):TC17-20.
  2. Guo LX, Teo EC. Influence prediction of injury and vibration on adjacent components of spine using finite element methods. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2006 Apr;19(2):118-24.
  1. Leeman S., Peterson C., Schmid C., Anklin B., Humphreys B., (2014) Outcomes of Acute and Chronic Patients With Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Confirmed Symptomatic Lumbar Disc Herniations Receiving High-Velocity, Low Amplitude, Spinal Manipulation Therapy: A Prospective Observational Cohort Study With One-Year Follow Up, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37 (3)155-63
  1. McMorland, G., Suter, E., Casha, S., du Plessis, S. J., & Hurlbert, R. J. (2010). Manipulation or microdiscectomy for sciatica? A propective randomized clinical study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 33
  1. Whedon, J. M., Mackenzie, T.A., Phillips, R.B., & Lurie, J.D. (2014). Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66-69. Spine,  (Epub ahead of print) 1-33.

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Published in Case Reports

Chiropractic has a Positive Effect on Depression and Anxiety

 

A report on the scientific literature 


 

By: Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP

 

Many patients who experience pain, also have concurrent anxiety and/or depression. Sometimes the pain doesn’t have to be severe or traumatically caused, it just exists for reasons unknown. Through the years, too many patients go to doctors and state they have been depressed or have an unusual amount of anxiety for reasons unknown and the doctor when asking probing questions uncovers that the patient has been in pain. Intuitively, the doctor and patient have concluded the reason for the depression or anxiety has been one of frustration out of being in pain for so long.

 

 

This author has experienced that for over 3 decades of treating patients in both acute and chronic pain with no answer better than “This too shall pass, be patient.” Research has now given us answers.

 

 

“Within the brain, the pain experience is subserved by an extended network of brain regions including the thalamus (THA), primary and secondary somatosensory, cingulate, and insular cortices. Collectively, these regions are referred to as thepain processing network (PPN) and encode the sensory discriminate and cognitive and emotional components of the pain experience. Perception of pain is dependent not merely on the neural activity within the PPN [pain processing network] but also on the flexible interactions of this network with other functional systems, including the descending pain modulatory system” (Gay et al., 2014, p. 617).  This is part of the reason why some patients experience pain differently than others.  Some have anxiety, depression and are at a loss to function while others can “ignore” the pain and maintain an adequate functional level as a productive member of society.  Pain is deeply tied to the most primitive regions of the central nervous system and it appears as chiropractors have observed clinically for 116 years that therapeutically speaking, we can have an influence on these higher centers with little or no side-effects. Simply put, patients under chiropractic care have reported an improvement of both anxiety and depression after chiropractic care, which has also been this author’s repeated experience.

 

 

Gay et al. (2014) went on to report, “This study assessed the relationship of brain activity between regions of the PPN [pain processing network] before and after MT [manual therapy or chiropractic spinal adjustments]. Using this approach, we found common and treatment-dependent changes in FC [functional changes]…Our study is unique in our neurophysiologic measure because we used resting-state fMRI [functional MRI] in conjunction with FC [functional change] analyses. Our results are in agreement with studies that have found immediate changes using other neurophysiologic outcomes, such as Hoffman-reflex and motor-neuron excitability, electroencephalography with somatosensory-evoked potentials, transcranial magnetic stimulation with motor evoked potentials, and task-based fMRI with peak BOLD response” (p. 619 and 624).  This study concludes that chiropractic spinal adjustments create functional changes in multiple regions of the brain based upon multiple outcome measures.   In the study by Gay et al. (2014), this was measureable and reproducible. 

 

We also know that chiropractic is one of the safest treatments currently available in healthcare and when there is a treatment where the potential for benefits far outweighs any risk, it deserves serious consideration. Whedon, Mackenzie, Phillips, and Lurie(2015) based their study on 6,669,603 subjects after the unqualified subjects had been removed from the study and accounted for 24,068,808 office visits. They concluded, “No mechanism by which SM [spinal manipulation] induces injury into normal healthy tissues has been identified(Whedon et al., 2015, p. 5).

 

References:

 

 

  1. Gay, C. W., Robinson, M. E., George, S. Z., Perlstein, W. M., & Bishop, M. D. (2014). Immediate changes after manual therapy in resting-state functional connectivity as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging in participants with induced low back pain.Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37(9), 614-627
  2. Whedon, J. M., Mackenzie, T. A., Phillips, R. B., & Lurie, J. D. (2015). Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66-69 years. Spine, 40(4), 264-270.

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Published in Neck Problems

How Does the Chiropractic Adjustment Work?

A Literature Review of Pain Mechanisms & Brain Function Alteration

A report on the scientific literature 


By: Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP

William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP

 

Reference: Studin M., & Owens W., (2015) How Does the Chiropractic Adjustment Work? A Literature Review of Pain Mechanisms and Brain Function Alteration, The American Chiropractor 37(8)  30, 32-34, 36-38, 40, 42-43

 

Were D.D. and B.J. Palmer right with their bone on nerve theory?According to Charles A. Lantz, DC. PhD. Director of Research, Life Chiropractic College West (2015), Montgomery and Nelson cited the context within which medical authors in the mid- to late 19th century referred to subluxation, one that was similar to how D.D. Palmer later would:

 

A vertebra is said to be displaced or luxated when the joint surfaces are entirely separated. Sub-luxation is a partial or incomplete separation: one in which the articulating surfaces remain in partial contact. This latter condition is so often referred to and known by chiropractors as sub-luxation. The relationship existing between bones and nerves are so nicely adjusted that anyone of the 200 bones, more especially those of the vertebral column, cannot be displaced ever so little without impinging upon adjacent nerves. Pressure on nerves excites, agitates, creates an excess of molecular vibration, whose effects, when local, are known as inflammation, when general, as fever. A subluxation does not restrain or liberate vital energy. Vital energy is expressed in functional activity. A subluxation may impinge against nerves, the transmitting channel may increase or decrease the momentum of impulses, not energy. http://www.chiro. org/LINKS/FULL/A_Review_of_the_Evolution.shtml#Citation_7

 

Lance (2015) also reported, "According to BJ Palmer, a subluxation represented a displaced bone that impinged on a nerve, thus interfering with the transmission of vital nerve energy (or, more specifically, the transmission of ‘mental impulses.’)” (http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/A_Review_of_the_ Evolution. shtml)

 

For over a century, doctors of chiropractic have been explaining chiropractic by teaching patients and the medical community that there are bones compressing/irritating spinal nerves. The ensuing nervous system dysfunctions have negative effects on the function of peripheral nervous systems, central nervous systems and patients’ overall ability to maintain homeostasis. Essentially, they go into states of dis-ease.  These discussions were in large part due to the teachings of D.D. Palmer and B.J. Palmer as previously cited. Based on the results rendered in chiropractic offices across the country and in a patient-driven model of success, the general consensus in both private practice and chiropractic academia had been to maintain status quo and simply teach what has worked in the absence of conclusive evidence, particularly in light of a lack of serious governmental funding and support for chiropractic research.  In addition, dogma has also created blinders for many, as evidence evolves to further chiropractic and its understanding, application and expansion.

 

Over the last 10-15 years, research has been published by the scientific community that has begun to verify that D.D. and B.J. Palmer’s hypotheses were fundamentally correct, while clarifying the specific physiological mechanisms related to chiropractic’s ability to alleviate pain.  As a result of initially studying pain mechanisms, contemporary research has also begun to set the foundation for understanding why chiropractic works with systemic and autonomic dysfunction and potential disease treatment through the adjustment – central nervous system connection. It is the understanding of that connection with pain that is helping people to begin to understand the full impact of the chiropractic spinal adjustment and render the evidence to help more get well.

 

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM PROCESSING OF PAIN REDUCTION

 

Coronado et al. (2012) reported that, “Reductions in pain sensitivity, or hypoalgesia, following SMT [spinal manipulative therapy or the chiropractic adjustment] may be indicative of a mechanism related to the modulation of afferent input or central nervous system processing of pain” (p. 752). “The authors theorized the observed effect related to modulation of pain primarily at the level of the spinal cord since (1) these changes were seen within lumbar innervated areas and not cervical innervated areas and (2) the findings were specific to a measure of pain sensitivity (temporal summation of pain), and not other measures of pain sensitivity, suggesting an effect related to attenuation of dorsal horn excitability and not a generalized change in pain sensitivity” (Coronado et al., 2012, p. 752). These findings indicate that a chiropractic spinal adjustment affects the dorsal horns at the root levels which are located in the central nervous system.  This is the beginning of the “big picture” since once we identify the mechanism by which we can positively influence the central nervous system, we can then study that process and its effects in much more depth.    

 

One of the main questions asked by Corando et al. (2012) “…was whether SMT (chiropractic adjustments) elicits a general response on pain sensitivity or whether the response is specific to the area where SMT is applied. For example, changes in pain sensitivity over the cervical facets following a cervical spine SMT would indicate a local and specific effect while changes in pain sensitivity in the lumbar facets following a cervical spine SMT would suggest a general effect. We observed a favorable change for increased PPT [pressure pain threshold] when measured at remote anatomical sites and a similar, but non-significant change at local anatomical sites. These findings lend support to a possible general effect of SMT beyond the effect expected at the local region of SMT application (p. 762).

 

The mechanisms of SMT are theorized to result from both spinal cord mediated mechanisms and supraspinal mediated mechanisms [brain]. A recent model of the mechanisms of manual therapy suggests changes in pain related to SMT result from an interaction of neurophysiological responses related to the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system at the spinal and supraspinal level” (Coronado et al., 2012, p. 762).  This demonstrates that the chiropractic adjustment influences the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system.  “Collectively, these studies provide evidence that SMT has an immediate effect on reducing pain sensitivity, most notably at the remote region of stimulus assessment with similar results in clinical and healthy populations” (Coronado et al., 2012, p. 763). 

 

  1. ACTIVATION OF BRAIN & DESCENDING NERVE PATHWAYS BEYOND AREAS TREATED
  2. CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENT VS. SPINAL MOBILIZATION

 

Reed, Pickar, Sozio, and Long (2014) reported:

…forms of manual therapy have been clinically shown to increase mechanical pressure pain thresholds (i.e., decrease sensitivity) in both symptomatic and asymptomatic subjects.Cervical spinal manipulation has been shown to result in unilateral as well as bilateral mechanical hypoalgesia. Compared with no manual therapy, oscillatory spinal manual therapy at T12 and L4 produced significantly higher paraspinal pain thresholds at T6, L1, and L3 in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. The immediate and widespread hypoalgesia associated with manual therapy treatments has been attributed to alterations in peripheral and/or central pain processing including activation of descending pain inhibitory systems.

Increasing evidence from animal models suggests that manual therapy activates the central nervous system and, in so doing, affects areas well beyond those being treated. (p. 277)

Reed et al. (2014) also reported:

 

The finding that only the higher intensity manipulative stimulus (ie, 85% BW [body weight] vs 55% BW or control) decreased the mechanical sensitivity of lateral thalamic neurons to mechanical trunk stimulation coincides with other reports relating graded mechanical or electrical stimulus intensity to the magnitude of central inhibition…

Several clinical studies indicate that spinal manipulation [chiropractic spinal adjustment] alters central processing of mechanical stimuli evidenced by increased pressure pain thresholds and decreased pain sensitivity in asymptomatic and symptomatic subjects following manipulation. (p. 282)

 

Thalamus. (2015). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.orgwiki/Thalamus

The thalamus has multiple functions. It may be thought of as a kind ofhubof information. It is generally believed to act as a relay between different subcortical areas and thecerebral cortex. In particular, every sensory system (with the exception of theolfactory system) includes a thalamic nucleus that receives sensory signals and sends them to the associated primary cortical area. For the visual system, for example, inputs from theretinaare sent to thelateral geniculate nucleusof the thalamus, which in turn projects to thevisual cortexin theoccipital lobe. The thalamus is believed to both process sensory information as well as relay it—each of the primary sensory relay areas receives strong feedback connections from the cerebral cortex. Similarly themedial geniculate nucleusacts as a keyauditoryrelay between theinferior colliculusof themidbrainand theprimary auditory cortex, and the ventral posterior nucleusis a keysomatosensoryrelay, which sends touch andproprioceptiveinformation to theprimary somatosensory cortex.

 

The thalamus also plays an important role in regulating states ofsleep and wakefulness.Thalamic nuclei have strong reciprocal connections with the cerebral cortex, formingthalamo-cortico-thalamic circuitsthat are believed to be involved withconsciousness. The thalamus plays a major role in regulating arousal, the level of awareness, and activity (“Thalamus,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalamus).

 

This indicates that the chiropractic spinal adjustment reduces pain by effecting the thalamus and descending central pain pathways, while mobilization does not show evidence of having the same effect.  In addition, with our current knowledge of the chiropractic adjustment effecting the thalamus, we can begin to offer an explanation of how the first historically reported chiropractic adjustment by D.D. Palmer helped Harvey Lilard regain his hearing. 

CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS REDUCES PAIN IN MULTIPLE REGIONS DUE TO LOCAL AND CNS STIMULATION

 

Mohammadian, Gonsalves, Tsai, Hummel, and Carpenter (2004) investigated “the hypoalgesic effects of a single SMT on acute inflammatory reactions and pain induced by capsaicin [hot pepper extract]. These effects were assessed by measuring both sensory (allodynia [central nervous system pain], hyperalgesia, spontaneous pain intensity) and local vascular parameters (blood flow)” (p. 382). They reported “As expected, topical capsaicin induced primary hyperalgesia in the application area and secondary hyperalgesia outside that area. While the local vascular parameter blood flow was not affected by a single SMT [spinal manual therapy], the results indicated that sensory parameters (spontaneous pain perception and areas of both secondary hyperalgesia and allodynia) were significantly altered after spinal manipulation compared with N-SMT [non-spinal manipulative therapy]. These results clearly demonstrated that in contrast to the N-SMT condition, a single spinal manipulation triggered hypoalgesic effects” (Mohammadian et al., 2004, p. 385).

 

“In the present study, local blood flow was not affected by a single SMT. However, significant changes were observed on sensory parameters, supporting the hypothesis of centrally mediated effects of a single SMT. It is well known that secondary hyperalgesia appears to be due to central sensitization of the spinal dorsal horn neurons,while primary hyperalgesia is caused by nociceptor sensitization. It has also been discussed that mechanisms underlying allodynia are centrally mediated.Our findings also confirm the view that the hypoalgesic effects of a single SMT might be due to central modulation. These effects could also be explained as a result of a stress reaction caused by spinal manipulation treatment…Other studies discussed thatspinal manipulation [chiropractic spinal adjustments] stimulates mechanoreceptors of the spinal joints, resulting in afferent discharges and subsequently causing inhibitory reactions on the dorsal horn neurons.Vicenzino et al. demonstrated also a strong correlation between hypoalgesic and sympathoexcitatory effects, suggesting that a central control mechanism might be activated by manipulative therapy… previous studies as well as the present investigation…indicate that hypoalgesic effects of spinal manipulation are more likely mediated through central modulation” (Mohammadian et al., 2004, p. 386).  This study suggests that the chiropractic spinal adjustment affects the nociceptors and the mechanoreceptors at the joint level causing central modulation of an effect at the cord and/or brain level(s) and pain reductions in multiple areas as a result.

CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS CREATE HIGHER FUNCTION IN CORTICAL REGIONS

 

Gay, Robinson, George, Perlstein, and Bishop (2014) reported, “With the evidence supporting efficacy of MT [manual therapy or chiropractic spinal adjustments] to reduce pain intensity and pain sensitivity, it is reasonable to assume that the underlying therapeutic effect of MT is likely to include a higher cortical component” (p. 615).   It is in this place in particular that chiropractic must lead in both clinical application and academic processes such as formal continuing education lectures and research.

 

In the study conducted by Gay et al. (2014), “…pain-free volunteers processed thermal stimuli applied to the hand before and after thoracic spinal manipulation (a form of MT).  What they found was that after thoracic manipulation, several brain regions demonstrated a reduction in peak BOLD [blood-oxygen-level–dependent] activity. Those regions included the cingulate, insular, motor, amygdala and somatosensory cortices, and the PAG [periaqueductal gray regions]” (p. 615). In other words, thoracic adjustments produced direct and measureable effects on the central nervous system across multiple regions, which in the case of the responsible for the processing of emotion (cingulate cortex, aka limbic cortex) are regarding the insular cortex which also responsible for regulating emotion as well has homeostasis. The motor cortex is involved in the planning and execution of voluntary movements, the amygdala’s primary function is memory and decision making (also part of the limbic system), the somatosensory cortex is involved in processing the sense of touch (remember the homunculus) and, finally, the periaqueductal gray is responsible for descending pain modulation (the brain regulating the processing of painful stimuli).

 

Brain Region

Function

Cingulate Cortex

Emotions, learning, motivation, memory

Insular Cortex

Consciousness, homeostasis, perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive function

Motor Cortex

Voluntary movements

Amygdala Cortex

Memory, decision making, emotional reactions

Somatosensory Cortex

Proprio and mechano-reception, touch, temperature, pain of the skin, epithelial, skeletal muscle, bones, joints, internal organs and cardiovascular systems

Periaqueductal Gray

Ascending and descending spinothalamtic tracts carrying pain and temperature fibers

 

This is a major step in showing the global effects of the chiropractic adjustment, particularly those that have been observed clinically, but not reproduced in large studies.  “The purpose of this study was to investigate the changes in FC [functional changes] between brain regions that process and modulate the pain experience after MT [manual therapy]. The primary outcome was to measure the immediate change in FC  across brain regions involved in processing and modulating the pain experience and identify if there were reductions in experimentally induced myalgia and changes in local and remote pressure pain sensitivity” (Gay et al., 2014, p. 615).  Simply put, can the processing of pain be modulated or regulated from an external force without the use of pharmacy or surgery? 

 

“Within the brain, the pain experience is subserved by an extended network of brain regions including the thalamus (THA), primary and secondary somatosensory, cingulate, and insular cortices.Collectively, these regions are referred to as the pain processing network (PPN) and encode the sensory discriminate and cognitive and emotional components of the pain experience.Perception of pain is dependent not merely on the neural activity within the PPN [pain processing network] but also on the flexible interactions of this network with other functional systems, including the descending pain modulatory system” (Gay et al., 2014, p. 617).  This is part of the reason why some patients experience pain differently than others.  Some have anxiety, depression and are at a loss to function while others can “ignore” the pain and maintain an adequate functional level as a productive member of society.  Pain is deeply tied to the most primitive regions of the central nervous system and it appears (as chiropractors have observed clinically for 116 years) that therapeutically speaking, we can have an influence on these higher centers with little or no side-effects.   

 

Gay et al. (2014) went on to report, “This study assessed the relationship of brain activity between regions of the PPN [pain processing network] before and after MT [manual therapy or chiropractic spinal adjustments]. Using this approach, we found common and treatment-dependent changes in FC [functional changes]…Our study is unique in our neurophysiologic measure because we used resting-state fMRI [functional MRI] in conjunction with FC [functional change] analyses. Our results are in agreement with studies that have found immediate changes using other neurophysiologic outcomes, such as Hoffman-reflex and motor-neuron excitability, electroencephalography with somatosensory-evoked potentials, transcranial magnetic stimulation with motor evoked potentials, and task-based fMRI with peak BOLD response” (p. 619 and 624).  This study concludes that chiropractic spinal adjustments create functional changes in multiple regions of the brain based upon multiple outcome measures.   In the study by Gay et al. 2014), this was measureable and reproducible. In addition, this has far reaching effects in setting the foundation for understanding how the adjustment works in systemic and possibly autonomic changes by being able to measure and reproduce functional changes within the brain as direct sequellae.

 

  1. MUSCLE IMPAIRMENT CREATES CNS ALTERATIONS & THE NECESSITY FOR BOTH SHORT-TERM & LONG-TERM CHIROPRACTIC CARE
  2. ADJUSTMENTS WORK – SPINAL MOBILIZATION DOES NOT

 

Daligadu, Haavik, Yielder, Baarbe, and Murphy (2013) also reported that “Numerous studies indicate that significant cortical plastic changes are present in various musculoskeletal pain syndromes.In particular, altered feed-forward postural adjustments have been demonstrated in a variety of musculoskeletal conditions including anterior knee pain, low back pain,and idiopathic neck pain.Furthermore, alterations in trunk muscle recruitment patterns have been observed in patients with mechanical low back pain” (p. 527). What this means is that there are observable changes in the function of the central nervous system seen in patients with musculoskeletal conditions.  That is something that chiropractors have observed clinically and shows the medical necessity for chiropractic care for both short and long term management as well as in the prevention of pain syndromes. 

 

Daligadu et al. (2013) stated the following:

 

There is also evidence in the literature to suggest that muscle impairment occurs early in the history of onset of spinal complaints,and that such muscle impairment does not automatically resolve even when pain symptoms improve. This has led some authors to suggest that the deficits in proprioception and motor control, rather than the pain itself, may be the main factors defining the clinical picture and chronicity of various chronic pain conditions.

Furthermore, recent evidence has demonstrated that spinal manipulation can alter neuromuscular and proprioceptive function in patients with neck and back pain as well as in asymptomatic participants. For instance, cervical spine manipulation has been shown to produce greater changes in pressure pain threshold in lateral epicondylalgia than thoracic manipulation; and in asymptomatic patients, lumbar spine manipulation was found to significantly influence corticospinal and spinal reflex excitability. “Interestingly, Soon et al did not find neurophysiological changes following mobilization on motor function and pressure pain threshold in asymptomatic individuals, perhaps suggesting that manipulation [chiropractic spinal adjustments], as distinct from mobilization, induces unique physiological changes. There is also accumulating evidence to suggest that chiropractic manipulation can result in changes to central nervous system function including reflex excitability, cognitive processing, sensory processing, and motor output.There is also evidence in SCNP [sub-clinical neck pain] individuals that chiropractic manipulation alters cortical somatosensory processingand elbow joint position sense.This evidence suggests that chiropractic manipulation may have a positive neuromodulatory effect on the central nervous system, and this may play a role in the effect it has in the treatment of neck pain. It is hoped improving our understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms that may precede the development of chronic neck pain in individuals with SCNP will help provide a neurophysiological marker of altered sensory processing that could help determine if an individual is showing evidence of disordered sensorimotor integration and thus might benefit from early intervention to prevent the progression of SCNP into more long-term pain states.  (p. 528)

 

The authors went on to state, “Previous work using paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the motor cortex has indicated that cervical spine manipulation can alter sensorimotor integration of the upper limb by decreasing the amount of short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI).A recent somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) study involving dual SEPs from the median and ulnar nerves demonstrated that cervical manipulation of dysfunctional areas in patients with a history of reoccurring neck pain or stiffness was able to affect sensorimotor integration…spinal manipulation altered the way the central nervous system responded to the motor training task” (Daligadu et al., 2013, p. 528).

 

Furthermore, the authors added, “…altered afferent input from the neck due to joint dysfunction leads to disordered sensorimotor integration within the cerebellum and a subsequent derangement in motor commands to the upper limb. The cerebellum plays a fundamental role in detecting the encoded afferent signal and relaying this information as part of the body schema. When the input signal is no longer encoded as a result of joint dysfunction and altered afferent input, the cerebellum must adjust to new encodings that dictate the body schema and affect proper execution of the motor task” (p. 529).

 

“Motor sequence learning tasks have been previously shown to induce plasticity within the circuitry of both the motor cortexand the cerebellum…Neck manipulation [chiropractic spinal adjustments] has also been shown to provide a modulatory effect on the motor cortex by reducing the amount of intracortical inhibition.” (Daligadu et al., 2013, p. 533).

 

“This study further adds to the literature by demonstrating an alteration in cerebellar modulation of motor output in SCNP [sub-clinical neck pain] patients when they received a manipulation-based chiropractic treatment before performing motor sequence learning.In the healthy control group, there was no change in CBI seen following motor sequence learning alone” (Daligadu et al., 2013, p. 534).

 

“If the motor sequence learning task had a significant effect on the cerebellum in this group of participants due to their neck pain and altered sensorimotor integration, then it is possible that a decreased level of CBI [cerebellar inhibition] output to the motor cortex would result in an increase in SICI [short-intracortical inhibition]” (Daligadu et al., 2013, p. 534). The significance of this study is that it suggests that the chiropractic spinal adjustment improves not just neck dysfunction, but through plasty changes in the cerebellum, there is resultant motor learning and increased function. 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Based upon the scientific evidence, chiropractic spinal adjustments stimulate mechanoreceptors and nociceptors of the spinal joints resulting in afferent discharges and subsequently causing central modulation with an effect at the cord and brain levels. This causes pain reductions and secondary hyperalgesia (pain reduction in remote regions) which appears to be due to central sensitization of the spinal dorsal horn neurons,while primary hyperalgesia is caused by nociceptor sensitization.

 

This verifies that chiropractic adjustments influence the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. In the central nervous system, chiropractic spinal adjustments reduce pain by effecting the thalamus and descending central pain pathways.

 

Chiropractic spinal adjustments also create functional changes in multiple regions of the brain based upon multiple outcome measures that are measureable and reproducible. The areas of the brain affected by chiropractic adjustments effect the following functions: emotions, learning, motivation, memory, consciousness, homeostasis, perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive function, voluntary movements, decision making, touch, temperature, pain of the skin- epithelial tissue-skeletal muscles-bones-internal organs and cardiovascular system. This has far reaching effects in setting the foundation for understanding how the adjustment works in systemic and autonomic changes by being able to measure and reproduce functional changes within the brain as direct sequellae.

 

The evidence also reveals that only chiropractic adjustments (high velocity-low amplitude) render these findings and mobilization of joints conclusively do not. In addition, muscle impairment does not automatically improve with symptoms abating creating the necessity for both short and long-term care. This indicates that the deficits in proprioception and motor control, rather than the pain itself, may be the main factors defining the clinical picture and chronicity of various chronic pain conditions.

 

References:

1. Lantz, C. A. (1995). A review of the evolution of chiropractic concepts of subluxation. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, 2(2). Retrieved from http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/A_Review_of_the_Evolution.shtml

2. Coronado, R. A., Gay, C. W., Bialosky, J. E., Carnaby, G. D., Bishop, M. D., & George, S. Z. (2012). Changes in pain sensitivity following spinal manipulation: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Electromyography Kinesiology, 22(5), 752-767.

3. Reed, W. R., Pickar, J. G., Sozio, R. S., & Long, C. R. (2014). Effect of spinal manipulation thrust magnitude on trunk mechanical activation thresholds of lateral thalamic neurons. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37(5), 277-286.

4. Thalamus. (2015). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalamus

5. Mohammadian, P., Gonsalves, A., Tsai, C., Hummel, T., & Carpenter, T. (2004). Areas of capsaicin-induced secondary hyperalgesia and allodynia are reduced by a single chiropractic adjustment: A preliminary study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutic, 27(6), 381-387.

6. Gay, C. W., Robinson, M. E., George, S. Z., Perlstein, W. M., & Bishop, M. D. (2014). Immediate changes after manual therapy in resting-state functional connectivity as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging in participants with induced low back pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37(9), 614-627.

7. Daligadu, J., Haavik, H., Yielder, P. C., Baarbe, J., & Murphy, B. (2013). Alterations in coritcal and cerebellar motor processing in subclinical neck pain patients following spinal manipulation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 36(8), 527-537.

 

 

Dr. Mark Studin is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Chiropractic at the University Of Bridgeport College Of Chiropractic, an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Clinical Sceinces at Texas Chiropractic College and a clinical presenter for the State of New York at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for post-doctoral education, teaching MRI spine interpretation and triaging trauma cases. He is also the president of the Academy of Chiropractic teaching doctors of chiropractic how to interface with the legal community (www.DoctorsPIProgram.com), teaches MRI interpretation and triaging trauma cases to doctors of all disciplines nationally and studies trends in healthcare on a national scale (www.TeachDoctors.com). He can be reached at 631-786-4253.

 

Dr. Bill Owens is presently in private practice in Buffalo and Rochester NY and has created chiropractic as the primary spine care referral for the primary care medical community and emergency rooms in both regions.  He is an Associate Adjunct Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and is an Adjunt Assistant Professor of Clinical Sceinces at the University of Bridgeport, College of Chiropractic and Texas Chiropractic College.  He also works directly with doctors of chiropractic to help them build relationships with medical providers in their community. He can be reached at www.mdreferralprogram.com or 716-228-3847  

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Published in Brain Function

 

Chiropractic vs. Oral Steroids vs. Muscle Relaxants: Outcomes for Low Back Pain and Sciatica

 

A report on the scientific literature 


By Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP

 

Reference: Studin M. (2015) Chiropractic vs. Oral Steroids vs. Muscle Relaxants: Outcomes for Low Back Pain and Sciatica,The American Chiropractor, 37(7) 42-47

 

Choices. Every health care practitioner is caring for his/her patients having multiple treatment options and often those choices are influenced by pieces of information. That information can be what was learned in formal training, colleagues sharing anecdotal experience, patients giving direct feedback or well-scripted “representatives” of the pharmaceutical industry who only have one agenda…sales.As a result of doctors managing their patients’ conditions, there are two major parameters that are utilized, best medical practice, also known as “experience,” and evidence-based practice or that which has only been concluded in the medical literature. Both have a strong place in a healthcare delivery system with the best possible outcomes as the ultimate goals.

 

“A best practiceis a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. In addition, a "best" practice can evolve to become better as improvements are discovered. (“Best Practice,” http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Best practice).”

 

“Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an interdisciplinary approach to clinical practice that has been gaining ground following its formal introduction in 1992. It started inmedicineasevidence-based medicine (EBM) and spread to other fields such as dentistry, nursing, psychology, education, library and information science…” (“Evidence-Based Practice,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_practice) and other fields. Its basic principles are that all practical decisions made should 1) be based on research studies and 2) that these research studies are selected and interpreted according to some specific norms characteristic for EBP. Typically such norms disregardtheoretical studiesandqualitative studiesand considerquantitative studiesaccording to a narrow set of criteria of what counts asevidence.

 

 

“’Evidence-based behavioral practice’(EBBP) entails making decisions about how to promote health or provide care by integrating the best available evidence with practitioner expertise and other resources, and with the characteristics, state, needs, values and preferences of those who will be affected. This is done in a manner that is compatible with the environmental and organizational context. Evidence is comprised of research findings derived from the systematic collection of data through observation and experiment and the formulation of questions and testing of hypotheses" (“Evidence-Based Practice, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_practice).

 

This highly-debated topic of best practice vs. evidence-based practice has valid issues on each side, but putting together the two concepts as a hybrid would allow them to thrive in any healthcare delivery system as all options would be considered. This would allow advances in healthcare to save more lives, increased quality of life and at the same time, enough safeguards to prevent abuse of those with one-sided agendas to profit. It would also take the blinders off those who have dogmatic prejudice against that which has been verified to be successful in both the best practice and evidenced-based models (experience and literature).   

For years, too many non-chiropractic practitioners have ignored the “best practice” model or the results reported by both the patients and the practicing chiropractors with treatments regarding low back and leg pain (often associated with herniated discs). These non-chiropractic practitioners refuse to consider chiropractic as a first referral option. The main reason cited over the past few decades as this author’s personal experience has been that there is no literature that proves these claims in spite of patients corroborating their positive experiences with the chiropractors’ claims. As a result of ignorance, blinders and possibly a deep rooted prejudice, too many patients have been and are currently being treated with poor alternatives based upon outcomes that are now being clearly reported. Treatment with both oral steroids and muscle relaxers are two often used, but inferior choices and now the literature verifies why chiropractic is the best possible first-line of referral for diagnosis that are the subject for this paper.

 

ORAL STEROIDS

Goldberg et al. (2015) reported: Despite conflicting evidence, [epidural steroid injections] are frequently offered under the assumption that radicular symptoms are caused by inflammation of the affected lumbar nerve root.Epidural steroid injections are invasive, generally require a pre-procedure magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study, and expose patients to fluoroscopic radiation. In addition, the US Food and Drug Administration recently warned of rare but serious neurologic sequella from [epidural steroid injections].Oral administration of steroid medication may provide similar anti-inflammatory activity, does not require an MRI or radiation exposure, can be delivered quickly by primary care physicians, carries less risk, and would be much less expensive than an [epidural steroid injection]. Oral steroids are used by many community physicians, have been included in some clinical guidelines,and are noted as a treatment option by some authors.However, no appropriately powered clinical trials of oral steroids for radiculopathy have been conducted to date. To address this issue, we performed a parallel-group, double-blind randomized clinical trial of a 15-day tapering course of oral prednisone vs placebo for patients with an acute lumbar radiculopathy associated with a herniated lumbar disk... (p. 1916).

 

Results showed that “participants in both blinded treatment groups showed an improvement in symptoms over the initial 6 weeks, with more gradual reductions until the 24-week visit, after which changes were more variable. Baseline ODI [Oswestry Disability Index] scores were 51.2 and 51.1 in the prednisone and placebo groups, respectively; corresponding ODI scores at 3 weeks were 32.2 and 37.5” (Goldberg, 2015, p. 1919-1920). This indicates that both at 3 and 6 weeks there was no difference in the placebo vs. oral steroid groups. Among patients with acute radiculopathy due to a herniated lumbar disk, a short course of oral steroids, compared with placebo, resulted in modest improvement in function and no significant improvement in pain” (Goldberg, 2015, p.1922).

 

MUSCLE RELAXANTS

 

Hoiriis et al. (2004) reported, “Reviews of low back pain studies often fail to distinguish between manipulative interventions. Manipulation and spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) are vague terms describing procedures used by chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and osteopaths. These maneuvers may decrease ligamentous adhesions and myospastn, increase disk nutrition, or alter the function of the nervous system. The manipulative procedures used in this study, referred to as chiropractic adjustments, involve specific application of force thought to restore mechanical and neurological function to the spine…This study was a randomized clinical trial (RCT) in which subjects and assessors were blinded to the interventions, chiropractic providers were blinded to medical/sham assignment and an independent consultant provided the statistical analysis. Visit lengths and provider-subject interactions were monitored to preserve patient blinding” (p. 389).

 

At the 2 week period, the study revealed that the chiropractic group had statistically slightly better outcomes, but statistically insignificant, than the muscle relaxants and at the 4 week period had a significantly reduced visual analog pain scale of 24% from the muscle relaxant group and 23% from the placebo group. Although the authors reported this as statistically insignificant, I don’t, and one cannot lose sight of the fact that chiropractic outperformed muscle relaxant therapy with the absence of any possibility of side effects from medications, making the utilization of the drugs clinically unnecessary based upon the outcomes of a safer and statistically better alternative.  

 

CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT

 

It was reported by McMorland, Suter, Casha, du Plessis, and Hurlbert in 2010 that over 250,000 patients a year undergo elective lumbar discectomy (spinal surgery) for the treatment of low back disc issues in the United States. The researchers did a comparative randomized clinical study comparing spinal microdiscectomy (surgery) performed by neurosurgeons to non-operative manipulative treatments (chiropractic adjustments) performed by chiropractors. They compared quality of life and disabilities of the patients in the study. 

 

The study was limited to patients with distinct one-sided lumbar disc herniations as diagnosed via MRI and had associated radicular (nerve root) symptoms. Based upon the authors’ review of available MRI studies, the patients participating in the study were all initially considered surgical candidates. Both the surgical and chiropractic groups reported no new neurological problems and had only minor post-treatment soreness. 60% of the patients who underwent chiropractic care reported a successful outcome while 40% required surgery and of those 40%, all reported successful outcomes. This study concluded that 60% of the potential surgical candidates had positive outcomes utilizing chiropractic as the alternative to surgery.

 

Although the previous report concluded that a chiropractic spinal adjustment is an effective treatment modality for a herniated disc, a more recent study by Leemann et al. (2014), further clarifies the improvement with chiropractic care. This study considered both herniated discs and radiculopathy or pain radiating down into the leg as a baseline for analysis. The study also considered acute and chronic lumbar herniated disc pain patients.

 

In this study, the acute onset patient (the pain just started) reported 80% improvement at 2 weeks, 85% improvement at 1 month, and a 95% improvement at 3 months. The study went on to conclude that the patient stabilized at both the six month and one year marks following the onset of the original pain. Although one might argue that the patient would have gotten better with no treatment, it was reported that after two weeks of no treatment, only 36% of the patients felt better and at 12 weeks, up to 73% felt better. This study clearly indicates that chiropractic is a far superior solution to doing nothing and at the same time helps the patient return to his/her normal life without pain, drugs or surgery.

 

Chiropractic Care and Herniated Discs with Leg Pain

 

2 Week Improvement

1 Month Improvement

3 Month Improvement

80.6%

84.6%

94.5%

 

The caveat is that there are patients who could need drugs or surgery and an accurate diagnosis is paramount. It is incumbent upon the doctor of chiropractic to be fully trained in both the diagnostic and treatment facets of care. It is also important that the chiropractor be well-versed in MRI protocols and interpretation as well as disc pathology in order to be able to triage the patient accordingly based upon the clinical presentation inclusive of the MRI results.

 

Chiropractic is one of the safest treatments currently available in healthcare and when there is a treatment where the potential for benefits far outweighs any risk, it deserves serious consideration.  Whedon, Mackenzie, Phillips, and Lurie (2015) based their study on 6,669,603 subjects after the unqualified subjects had been removed from the study and accounted for 24,068,808 office visits. They concluded, “No mechanism by which SM [spinal manipulation] induces injury into normal healthy tissues has been identified (Whedon et al., 2015, p. 5) 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Contemporary research is clearly defining the most effective and safest treatment options for low back pain sufferers with associated leg pain (sciatica). In too many offices today, chiropractic treatment is not being considered the first option for care and the responsibility to change that habit falls to the chiropractic profession. Our profession is no different than the pharmaceutical companies who have an “army” of drug representatives. Pharmaceutical sales representative (formerly detailmen) are sales people employed bypharmaceutical companiesto persuade doctors to prescribe their drugs to patients. Drug companies in theUnited Statesspend ~$5 billion annually sending representatives to doctors,to provide product information, answer questions on product use, and deliver product samples. Companies maintain this provides an educational service by keeping doctors updated on the latest changes in medical science. Critics point to a systematic use of gifts and personal information to befriend doctors to influence their drug prescriptions.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Pharmaceutical_sales_representative)

 

What makes the chiropractic profession different from the “real world” of business? The answer is absolutely nothing and it is incumbent upon every entity of the profession from individual practitioners to organizations to start educating the public and every referral source because we now have the evidence. Oral steroids offer no relief and modest return to function. Muscle relaxants offer some help, but render worse results than chiropractic care with clearly defined side effects that can be avoided. It has been clearly concluded that chiropractic care is an extremely safe environment regarding side effects. That is verifiable with close to 7 million subjects studied. By considering chiropractic as the first-line for referral, the scientific evidence verifies solutions to low back pain and leg pain inclusive of herniated discs. The results indicate that at 2 weeks, 80.6% and at 3 months 94.5% of those with herniated dics show significant improvement with chiropractic care.

 

References:

1. Best Practice. (2015). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_practice

2. Evidence-Based Practice. (2015). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_practice

3. Goldberg, H., Firtch, W., Tyburski, M., Pressman, A., Ackerson, L., Hamilton, L.,…Avins, A. L. (2015). Oral steroids for acute radiculopathy due to a herniated lumbar disk: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 313(19), 1915-1923.

4. Hoiriis, K. T., Pfleger, B., McDuffie, F. C., Cotsonis, G., Elsangak, O., Hinson, R., & Verzosa, G. T. (2004). A randomized clinical trial comparing chiropractic adjustments to muscle relaxants for sub-acute low back pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 27(6), 388-398.

5. McMorland, G., Suter, E., Casha, S., du Plessis, S. J., & Hurlbert, R. J. (2010). Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. .Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 33(8), 576-584.

6. Leeman S., Peterson C., Schmid C., Anklin B., Humphrys K. (2014) Outcomes of Acute and Chronic Patients with Magnetic Resonance Imaging Confirmed Symptomatic Lumbar Disc Herniations Receiving High Velocity, Low Amplitude, Spinal Manipulative Therapy: A Prospective Observational Cohort Study With One Year Follow Up, .Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37(3), 155-163.

7. Whedon, J. M., Mackenzie, T. A., Phillips, R. B., & Lurie, J. D. (2015). Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66-69 years. Spine, 40(4), 264-270.

8. Pharmaceutical Sales Representative. (2015). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Pharmaceutical_sales_representative

 

Dr. Mark Studin is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Chiropractic at the University Of Bridgeport College Of Chiropractic, an Adjunct Professor, Division of Clinical Sciences at Texas Chiropractic College and a clinical presenter for the State of New York at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for post-doctoral education, teaching MRI spine interpretation and triaging trauma cases. He is also the president of the Academy of Chiropractic teaching doctors of chiropractic how to interface with the legal community (www.DoctorsPIProgram.com), teaches MRI interpretation and triaging trauma cases to doctors of all disciplines nationally and studies trends in healthcare on a national scale (www.TeachDoctors.com). He can be reached at or at 631-786-4253 or DrMark@AcademyOfChiropractic.com 

 

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Published in Low Back Problems

Regaining Arms, Legs, Hands and Feet Function Through Chiropractic Care: The Brain Connection

 

A report on the scientific literature 


By Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP

 

Frank was an innocent victim of a drive by shooting that left him a quadriplegic, 20+ years ago. This author was asked if I could help make him a little more comfortable as his neck was tight from being locked in one position for a lifetime and I made house calls for 2 weeks to see if I could help reduce some of the neck tightness. After the first adjustment, he regained some use of his right hand and a few fingers and I never had an explanation as to why because I didn’t treat the specific spinal segments connected to those fingers. From what I recall, Frank went on to become a computer programmer. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rob was a defensive tackle for an NFL football team playing at an all-star level. He came to see me because his back was sore from the pounding of a life of football. After 3 months of care, he reported that his time in the 40 yard dash decreased, his vertical jump increased and he was able to lift more weights in both his arms and legs than before. All things for which I had no explanation for all those years ago.  

 

We are now starting to get answers and reasons for what were once considered “miracles.” The research has verified that the chiropractic adjustment does not deliver miracles, it only helps the body work better and we now know why. This article could easily be titled, "Regaining All Movement and Function with the Chiropractic Spinal Adjustment," and would not be inflammatory based upon the scientific evidence being published today. With an aging population reaching 35,000,000 in 2030 according to Kleinpell, Fletcher, and Jennings (2015), and a mobile society that often gets injured, a key component to health is one of function. In the musculoskeletal genre, functioning is the ability to move and perform activities that range from those required of professional athletes and artists to those of the elderly such as simply walking or writing. In every society, people need to be able to move and function to experience life at its fullest. 

 

According to Haavik and Murphy (2012) “There is growing body of research on the effects of spinal manipulation (chiropractic spinal adjustments) on sensory processing, motor output, functional performance and sensorimotor integration…how an initial episode(s) of back or neck pain may lead to ongoing changes in input from the spine which over time lead to altered sensorimotor integration of input from the spine and limbs” (p. 768). What this simply means is that chiropractic spinal adjustments change how the brain gets its information, how it processes that information and then how it sends it back to the different regions of the body so that we can function and move better. In addition, the research has given evidence that these brain changes cause pain to decrease as a result of the chiropractic spinal adjustments and this can affect all of the limbs.

 

Haavik and Murphy (2012) went on to say, “What has also become apparent is that these plastic changes may occur in a manner that is subjectively positive for the individual, such as with motor learning to enable complex finger movement (e.g. playing the piano). This is known as adaptive neuroplasticity (the brain adapting better.) However, studies are also showing that these plastic changes may occur in a manner that has decidedly negative subjective outcomes for the individual, known as maladaptive neural plastic changes. There is a growing body of literature that demonstrates maladaptive plastic changes are present in a variety of pain conditions/syndromes and musculoskeletal dysfunction and that such adaptive changes can occur remarkably fast following an injury” (p. 769).

 

What this means is that injuries play a significant role in function and individuals can lose function very quickly, but a chiropractic spinal adjustment can help regain that function. The research also suggests that because this is an issue with the brain losing correct information from the limbs, parts not injured also lose function and conversely, when unaffected areas get treated, the brain makes adaptive changes and resolves pain in multiple areas.

“Numerous activities of daily living are dependent on appropriate interaction between sensory and motor systems allow us to engage with our environment. It allows us to reach for and grasp objects, detect and turn towards an auditory stimuli or respond to perturbations from the environment in order to maintain postural stability, balance and locomotion. A breakdown anywhere in these multimodal sensorimotor feedback loops has the potential to greatly affect other interconnected neuroanatomical subsystems, in either an adaptive or maladaptive manner” (Haavik & Murphy, 2012, p. 769).

 

Gay, Robinson, George, Perlstein, and Bishop (2014) reported that chiropractic spinal adjustments create functional changes in multiple regions of the brain based upon multiple outcome measures. In the study by Gay et al. (2014), this was measureable and reproducible. In addition, this has far reaching affects in setting the foundation for understanding how the adjustment works in systemic and possibly autonomic changes by being able to measure and reproduce functional changes within the brain as direct sequellae.

 

We also know that chiropractic is one of the safest treatments currently available in healthcare and when there is a treatment where the potential for benefits far outweighs any risk, it deserves serious consideration.  Whedon, Mackenzie, Phillips, and Lurie (2015) based their study on 6,669,603 subjects after the unqualified subjects had been removed from the study and accounted for 24,068,808 office visits. They concluded, “No mechanism by which SM [spinal manipulation] induces injury into normal healthy tissues has been identified (Whedon et al., 2015, p. 5).

 

References:

  1. Kleinpell, R., Fletcher, K., Jennings, B. M. (2008). Reducing functional decline in the elderly. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2629/
  2. Haavik, H., & Murphy B. (2012). The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 22(5), 768-76.
  3. Gay, C. W., Robinson, M. E., George, S. Z., Perlstein, W. M., & Bishop, M. D. (2014). Immediate changes after manual therapy in resting-state functional connectivity as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging in participants with induced low back pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37(9), 614-627.
  4. Whedon, J. M., Mackenzie, T. A., Phillips, R. B., & Lurie, J. D. (2015). Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66-69 years. Spine, 40(4), 264-270.

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Published in Brain Function

Pregnancy, Low Back Pain and Chiropractic

 

A report on the scientific literature 


 

By: Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP

 

It has been this authors personal experience that pregnant woman experiencing low back pain secondary to her pregnancy has been told to “wait and see” over time, with the hope that the back pain would go away. This is predominantly because the “drug option” is off the table with complications to the fetus and most doctors are not willing to take the chance to relieve mechanical (no tumors, fractures or infection) low back pain.  My patients reported to me that their obstetricians told them their pain was a result of altered biomechanics and hormonal changes affecting the muscles and ligament of their spine. Current research has now verified through scientific evidence what practicing chiropractors and their patients have been claiming for decades, that chiropractic work to help relieve pain for pregnant woman with a safe, conservative treatment for both mother and the fetus. As a result of the effectiveness and safety, it now demands that chiropractic be the first referral option for pregnant woman experiencing low back pain.

 

 

According to Petersen, Muhlemann and Humphreys (2014) “Low back and pelvic pain in pregnant women is such a common phenomenon that it is often considered a normal part of the pregnancy [1-3]. However, the high prevalence of this problem (50-80% of women) and the impact that this may have on their quality of life, as well as the fact that back pain during pregnancy is commonly linked to low back pain persisting after pregnancy, mandates that it be taken seriously by health care practitioners. Many of these patients rate their back pain as moderate to severe with a small percentage claiming to be significantly disabled by the pain [6-8]. Pregnancy-related low back pain is most often divided into 3 categories based on location. These are: lumbar spine pain, posterior pelvic pain, or a combination of these two, with posterior pelvic pain reported to be the most common presentation and the location most specific for pregnant patients. Although the etiology of low back pain associated with pregnancy is not definitively known, the predominate theories include biomechanical changes due to the enlarging uterus resulting in an increasing lumbar lordosis and the influence of the hormone relaxin on stabilizing ligaments leading to hypermobility of joints.” [pg. 2]

 

Petersen went on to report “The results of this current study which showed that a high proportion of pregnant patients with LBP undergoing chiropractic treatment reported clinically relevant improvementsupport those published in a recent cohort study as well as the recent randomized clinical trial (RCT) looking at chiropractic treatment for pregnant patients with low back or pelvic pain.” [pg. 5] Meaning, that chiropractic works for low back pain in pregnant woman and it has been proven in many scientific studies. The result showed that at various times during the pregnancy, upwards of 90% of pregnant woman reported positive results. The specific results reported:

 

52% improved at 1 week

70% improved at 1 month

85% improved at 3 months

90% improved at 6 months

 

All of these were with chiropractic care only and no drugs or any other type of intervention beyond patient education by the chiropractor.

 

 

Mullen ET. Al reported that when interviewing midwives, that 88.8% had an experience with chiropractors and 97% was positive. In addition, 94.5% of those had chiropractors treated their children and had a positive experience.  The most revealing statistic is one of safety. 100% of midwives question answered that chiropractic was safe for their pregnant patients.

 

 

We also know that chiropractic is one of the safest treatments currently available in healthcare and when there is a treatment where the potential for benefits far outweighs any risk, it deserves serious consideration.  Whedon, Mackenzie, Phillips, and Lurie (2015) based their study on 6,669,603 subjects after the unqualified subjects had been removed from the study and accounted for 24,068,808 office visits. They concluded, “No mechanism by which SM [spinal manipulation] induces injury into normal healthy tissues has been identified (Whedon et al., 2015, p. 5) 

 

References:

  1. Petersen C., Muhlemann D., Humphreys B. (2014) Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up, Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 22:15, 1-7
  2. Mullin, L., Alcantara J., Barton D., Dever L. (2011) Attitudes and Views on Chiropractic: A Survey of United States Midwives, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 17 (2011) 135-140
  3. Whedon, J. M., Mackenzie, T. A., Phillips, R. B., & Lurie, J. D. (2015). Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66-69 years. Spine, 40(4), 264-270.

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Published in Low Back Problems

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