Improvements in Heart Rate Variability Following Chiropractic Care
In the journal The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research is the result of a case study published on June 29, 2020, documenting the improvement on heart rate variability of a patient under chiropractic care. The importance of heart rate variability is that is can shed light on the overall function of the autonomic nervous system.
The study begins by noting that "The autonomic nervous system is understood to have two branches, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system." It goes on to further explain that "Both branches of the autonomic nervous system play a critical role in the overall picture of health, as both are critically necessary in their own respect and must work in tandem for optimum health to be achieved."
The heart is predominantly under the control of the autonomic nervous system. In response to activities, the heart should vary the rate at which it beats. A lower rate of variability means the heart is not reacting properly to change which is an indicator of health issues. A higher heart rate variability, but not too high, is a healthier response.
Chiropractors have maintained that subluxations to the spine affect nerve system function. This could then have a negative effect on heart rate variability. In this study, a 38-year-old man went to the chiropractor primarily for lower back pain that started two weeks earlier.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included palpation, range of motion, spinal thermal scans, surface EMG scan and spinal x-rays. A significant reduction in the man’s spinal range of motion was noted. Additionally, a pulse wave profiler was utilized to determine the man’s heart rate variability to see if there could be subluxations affecting the autonomic nervous system.
The authors explained why this procedure was done by saying, "The effects of chiropractic care on autonomic dysfunction can be analyzed through heart rate variability. This helps determine one's overall ability to adapt to the environment."
From the examination, it was determined that subluxations were present. A series of specific chiropractic spinal adjustments were done to address the subluxations. On a subsequent re-examination, the man’s symptoms had improved. The pulse wave profiler was again used to access any changes to the heart rate variability. On this follow-up evaluation, significant increase in the heart rate variability was noted indicating improved function of the autonomic nervous system.
In their conclusion the study authors state, "Heart rate variability is demonstrated to be a valid and reliable indicator of overall health and indicates that a decreased heart rate variability is consistent with poor health and autonomic function." They go on to say, "Evidence supports that chiropractic care should be utilized for individuals who demonstrate autonomic dysfunction."
Infant with Congenital Torticollis Helped by Chiropractic
In the June 2020 issue of the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic is a published case study documenting the positive outcome from chiropractic care of an infant suffering with torticollis. The John Hopkins Medical webpage describes torticollis by saying "Torticollis, also known as wryneck, is a twisting of the neck that causes the head to rotate and tilt at an odd angle."
The study begins by explaining "Torticollis can develop due to a constrained intrauterine position in the last weeks of pregnancy, breech lie, birth trauma/forces during delivery, and late gestational age." This type of torticollis is known as congenital torticollis. If torticollis occurs after birth, it is known as acquired torticollis. Although many cases of torticollis are mild, it is estimated that it occurs in 3 out of every 100 babies.
Some of the symptoms of torticollis include the baby's inability to turn the head side to side or up and down easily. There may also be a soft lump in the baby’s neck muscle on one side. The baby will want to look over his/her shoulder to see the parent rather than follow with his/her eyes. Breastfeeding on one side may also become difficult, and a flat spot on one side of the head may appear.
In this case, a mother brought her 3-week-old infant to the chiropractor because she had felt a nodule in her baby daughter’s neck and the mother noticed that her daughter was always turning her head to the right. The infant also had a restricted range of motion in her neck and left arm.
The history in this case revealed that the mother had a difficult birth and delivered at 41 weeks of pregnancy. The birth was induced, but when unsuccessful, forceps were used three times to assist the delivery.
The chiropractor performed an age-appropriate examination which showed significant restriction in neck motion with a visible head tilt to the left with a right rotation. The baby’s head was also misshapen, and a nodule could be felt in the lower neck muscles. It was also found that the top neck bone, the atlas, was malpositioned. Based upon the findings, chiropractic care was started. The mother was instructed to perform some minimal range of motion movements and to massage the nodule on the neck daily at home.
The results showed that within five visits, the infant regained 90% of her neck range of motion. As care continued, the nodule in the neck released, and the baby girl’s arm movement improved. Eventually, the baby girl's neck problems were resolved and her only issue was a misshaped head due to the prolonged time she was on one side. Medical care in the form of a helmet was used to assist with the head shape.
Effects of Chiropractic Care on Strength, Balance, and Endurance
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published the results of a study on June 12, 2020, showing that chiropractic care was able to cause an increase in strength, endurance, and balance in active duty military personal participating in this study.
A number of studies have shown that benefits of chiropractic care for military personnel. Physical ailments are common in the military due to the active nature of training and activities. Numerous studies have shown a high degree of satisfaction among military personnel who undergo chiropractic care.
Legislation in the U.S. established chiropractic care at many military facilities, thus making chiropractic more available than in the past to those serving in the armed forces. One large study published on May 18, 2018, in the JAMA Network Open under Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation showed that adding chiropractic to standard medical care gave superior results for lower back pain than just standard medical care among active U.S. military personnel.
This controlled trial study was designed to see if chiropractic had an effect on strength, balance, and/or endurance in active-duty United States military personnel 18–40 years of age with low back pain. In this study, 4 weeks of chiropractic care was given to 110 active-duty military personnel who were suffering with lower back pain.
The chiropractic care rendered to the participants in this study consisted of spinal adjustments (referred to as manipulation in this study), education, advice, and reassurance. All the care was rendered at the Naval Air Technical Training Center branch clinic at the Naval Hospital Pensacola Florida.
To measure strength, the participants were asked to do isometric pulling from a semisquat position. Balance was tested by having participants perform a single-leg balance with eyes open and eyes closed. Endurance was measured by a test called the Biering–Sorensen test. This test requires the participant to lie face down on a table with the top half of their body extending over the table. They are then tested to see how long they can keep extended straight out from the table using their torso muscles. These tests were performed initially, and after four weeks of chiropractic care.
The results showed that there was a statistical improvement in strength and endurance for the group after chiropractic care as compared to their initial testing. Balanced was improved after chiropractic with the eyes closed, but no statistical difference was seen when the eyes were kept open. The participants also saw improvement in lower back pain (LBP) and disability due to the chiropractic care.
In their conclusion the authors wrote, "Active-duty military personnel receiving chiropractic care exhibited improved strength and endurance, as well as reduced LBP intensity and disability, compared with a wait-list control."
Chronic Headaches and Neck Pain After Whiplash Helped by Chiropractic
A case study published in the Journal of Contemporary Chiropractic on February 14, 2020, describes the improvement with chiropractic of a woman who had been suffering with headaches and neck pain after a whiplash injury.
A normal neck curve as seen from the side x-ray should show a sweeping curvature forward. When the curvature is reduced or reversed, known as a cervical kyphosis, it is many times associated with a number of health issues. According to this study, two of the more common issues seen with cervical kyphosis are neck pain and headaches.
Headaches and neck pain are very common problems. The study reports that "Tension-type headaches are the most common headache worldwide affecting greater than 40% of the population. Neck pain is also prevalent and will affect up to 70% of the population." They note that these problems are commonly seen together. "Those suffering from headache have a high chance of also having neck pain, a 90% prevalence rate, particularly following motor vehicle collisions (MVCs)."
In this case, a 29-year old mother of 3 went to the chiropractor with a chief complaint of severe headaches. The woman had been suffering with headaches for 13 years ever since being involved in a motor vehicle accident from which she was diagnosed with severe whiplash. Over the years, her headaches persisted and got worse.
The woman also suffered from neck and upper back pain as well as lower back pain. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, she rated her pain as follows: headaches 8 out of 10, upper back pain 4 out of 10, and lower back pain 8-9 out of 10. She also was suffering with numbness in her legs and feet as well as cold fingers, right arm pain, ringing in her ears, difficulty digesting greasy foods, low energy, restless legs, cramping, and irregular periods.
An examination showed limited muscle strength as well as reduced ranges of motion. A side x-ray of her neck showed a reversal of her neck curve in the upper portion of her neck. Based upon these findings, specific chiropractic care, along with home exercises, was started to address these issues.
After care was started, a re-examination was performed and showed an increase in muscle strength as well as a greater range of motion. As care continued, the woman reported that her neck pain had reduced by 90%, and her lower back pain improved by 70%. She also reported that she was no longer having severe headaches and dizziness, except for an occasional slight headache. Additionally, the woman reported that she no longer suffered from cold fingers, ringing in her ears, restless legs, pelvic cramping and irregular periods.