Chiropractic and Mental Health

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Chiropractic and Mental Health

Research supports that vertebral subluxations may result in altered autonomic nervous system activity. How does this affect mental health and behavior? We will look specifically the vagus nerve “fight or flight” response and “rest and digest” response. The vagus nerve is a major component of the HPA-axis which coordinates neural, behavioral, endocrine, and immune/inflammatory responses. This is why we check heart rate variability in the office to gauge how well your vagus nerve is functioning, therefore how well your HPA-axis is functioning.

There is a theory called the Polyvagal Theory (PVT) that was proposed by Porges in which nervous system regulation affects our emotional expression, communication, and social behavior. Or in other words the neural pathways supporting behavior are involved in maintaining health.

In a study by Williams et al, “There was some evidence that spinal manipulation improved psychological outcomes compared with verbal interventions.” A different study by Holder et al, looked at patients who received instrument assisted adjustments, the test group who received adjustments showed a significant decrease in anxiety compared to the control group.

Chiropractic care a whole is concerned with totality of the human experience. By correcting subluxations, patients are more optimally able to adapt to the world around them and build resilience. When an adjustment is delivered, a patient’s nervous system immediately responds by altering the body’s ability to function at it’s fullest potential again.

Holder JM, Duncan Robert C, Gissen M, Miller M, Blum K (2001) Increasing retention rates among the

chemically dependent in residential treatment: auriculotherapy and (in a separate study)

subluxation-based chiropractic care. Journal of Molecular Psychiatry 6.

Williams NH, Hendry M, Lewis R, Russell I, Westmoreland A, et al. (2007) Psychological response in spinal

manipulation (PRISM): A systematic review or psychological outcomes in randomized controlled

trials. Complementary Therapis in Medicine 15:271-283.

Sports Performance With Chiropractic

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                Neuromuscular fatigue aka exercise-induced muscle weakness and reduced power are not only detrimental to athletic performance but also increases the risk of sports-related injuries. These factors are brought about by neuromuscular mechanisms in which our brain and spinal cord control how much our muscles contract and reflex responses or how fast our muscles respond to something. By optimizing these factors, athletic performance is likely to be improved.

                Lucky for athletes receiving chiropractic care it has been shown that chiropractic adjustments alters many of the brain functions that control muscle reflexes, muscle endurance, muscle strength, and “muscle memory” (creating muscle patterns). (Herzog et al. 1999; Niazi et al. 2015; Kelly et al. 2000; Lersch et al. 2005; Haavik Taylor and Murphy 2007; Hillermann et al. 2006; Botelho and Andrade 2012).

                In a study performed by Lykke et al., 11 elite Taekwondo athletes were evaluated on muscular strength. In the study, the force during the push-off phase of walking was evaluated and following an adjustment this force was increased. In the control intervention, in which the participants did not receive an adjustment, their force decreased over time. Following the adjustment intervention force increased!

                This study supports the growing research that indicates chiropractic adjustments impact motor control and training. Chiropractic care can benefit patients by improving muscle performance which then affects sports performance, strength training, and other activities.

Chiropractic Care for Babies with Colic

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Chiropractic Care for Babies with Colic

Aside from being stressful, tiring even heart-breaking for parents, infant colic can cause both physical and psychological symptoms in parents and can lead to marital tension, social disruption and child abuse.1 The causes of infantile colic are still unknown and traditional medical intervention is often ineffective.1

The traditional medical management for colic involves prescribing drugs such as simethicone drops or proton pump inhibitors. However, systematic reviews have consistently shown that these interventions are no more effective than placebo.2

What is colic? When a baby cries inconsolably for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week, for longer than three weeks this is known as ‘infantile colic’.2 Colic affects up to 40% of children worldwide.1,2

Why try chiropractic? Chiropractic is a safe and effective choice for even the smallest members of society.3-5 In one study researchers showed that babies who received chiropractic care cried significantly less than those who did not receive care.6 Because so many high-quality clinical trials have shown chiropractic care helps babies with colic cry less – up to 50% less – it’s worth giving it a go!

Over recent years the safety of chiropractic care for children and infants has been investigated by many researchers.3-5 The results of their studies suggest that chiropractic care can be safely provided to even the youngest members of our society. Adverse events in children after chiropractic care are rare and usually don’t require further care.3-5

It’s every parent’s nightmare – your beautiful newborn is in obvious distress, and you can’t figure out how to console your little monkey. The suffocating array of parental advice may be leaving you confused. So, what do you do when your baby has colic?  We have summarized some of the latest research on infants with colic. We hope to bust some myths and put your mind at ease.

A study conducted in the UK looked at the effectiveness of chiropractic care in affected children.6 The researchers observed 104 babies who were randomized into three groups. The first group of babies was given chiropractic care and their parents knew they were seeing a chiropractor. The second group also received chiropractic care, but their parents didn’t know whether their baby was receiving the care or the control intervention. And the third group didn’t get checked by the chiropractor; instead, they received the control intervention.

Parents were asked to complete a 10-day ‘crying diary’. The findings from this study suggest that even without chiropractic care crying time reduced. However, babies under chiropractic care cried up to 3 hours less compared to those who did not receive care.

Interestingly, the parent’s awareness of whether their baby was receiving chiropractic care, or the control did not matter. This confirms previous studies that have also shown babies with colic responding well to chiropractic care.4 It suggests that the child’s improvement is probably due to chiropractic and not parent bias or parent placebo effect.

Further, this study found that excessively crying babies were (at least!) 5 times less likely to cry if they received care, compared to not receiving care. So it’s very likely that chiropractic care really does help at least some babies who are suffering from colic.
Remember that the chiropractor isn’t directly trying to treat the colic. Instead, they’re trying to improve spinal function with the aim of improving your child’s brain’s ability to process what’s going on in their body. And for some kids, this seems to result in less crying time! This has to be a good thing for the whole family!

What is Maintenance Care?

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What is Maintenance Care?

People go to see a chiropractor for many different reasons.1 Some go because they’re in pain, some go because they want to perform better on the sporting field, and some want to sleep better.

But did you know that almost 50% of chiropractic patients go to their chiropractor because they simply want to maintain their health and well-being?

Maintenance care is when patients go to a chiropractor even when they are not in pain or discomfort. The idea with maintenance care is that regular adjustments will help maintain your spine and nervous system function at its optimal level and help you to be your best and to prevent new episodes of pain from developing.2

It makes sense to look after your health, so you don’t get sick, right? And that often you get sick because you have been pushing yourself too hard and you’ve become run down? The research tells us that your spine can get run down too, long before you feel pain. We know that if your brain doesn’t send appropriate protective messages to your core trunk muscles, you will have a higher risk of developing low back injuries.3 This makes sense because a lack of core stability means you’re creating mini whiplash injuries to your spine each time you move around or lift your arm or leg.

If you end up in pain after bending down to tie your shoelaces your pain hasn’t just come out of the blue, it’s usually been developing for some time without you knowing about it. It’s often the thousandth straw that breaks the camel’s back.

All of life’s stressors can build up and impact the way your brain is communicating with your trunk muscles and then all that is needed is one last minor thing to go wrong, and you end up with pain. The goal of maintenance care is to help take the straws off your camel’s back before they cause symptoms or have a big impact on your life. So, the research tells us that chiropractic maintenance care makes perfect sense.

A study published by researchers from Sweden in 20184 showed the benefits of maintenance care in a group of people who suffered from low back pain. In this study, the researchers followed 328 patients with low back pain who went to 40 different Swedish chiropractic clinics. If the patients responded well when they were first adjusted they joined the study and received chiropractic maintenance care over the next year or symptom-guided care. The maintenance care patients were seen every 1 to 3 months with the intention being that they were checked before substantial pain reoccurred. Patients in the control group were told to call if and when pain recurred. 

They were then adjusted until they got better,  and they were told to call again if the pain returned. What the researchers were most interested in was the number of days of bothersome back pain suffered by each group throughout the 1-year trial period.

What they found was that the maintenance care group experienced 13 fewer days of pain over the course of the study on average compared to the symptom-guided group. The amazing thing from this study was that the maintenance care group needed less than 2 extra visits to their chiropractor over the course of a year to have 13 fewer days of pain. This suggests that patients who have had low back pain, and who respond well to care, should see their chiropractor regularly, irrespective of whether their symptoms have returned or not. This study did have some limitations of course. One limitation was that chiropractors were told not to schedule their maintenance care patients more frequently than once a month. So some patients in this group may have benefited even more if the chiropractors had been able to schedule their visits more frequently if they thought that was a good idea.

This study shows that it’s important to keep your spine working well, even if you don’t have pain or symptoms.

So, if you want to function at your optimal potential consider chiropractic maintenance care because the research suggests your spine will love you for it!

References

  1. Adams J, et al. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2017;42(23):1810-16.
  2. Leboeuf-Yde C, Hestbæk L. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2008;16:3-3.
  3. Cholewicki J, et al. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2005;30(23):2614-20.
  4. Eklund, et al. PLoS One 2018;13(9):e0203029.

Acknowledgments

  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc

Chiropractic Care & Reaction Times

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How quickly do you react when someone pulls in front of you when you’re driving, or when a ball comes your way on the sporting field, or when you have a slip and need to catch yourself before you fall?Are you accident prone or a ninja warrior? If you’re accident-prone, how can you bring out your inner ninja warrior?

We all react to these day-to-day challenges at different speeds. Some of us react slowly and some of us react really quickly. How quickly you react to a situation can actually be really important in many ways, from helping to prevent accidents on the road, to reaching your optimal potential on the sporting field.

How quickly we react to a stimulus or situation is called our reaction time, and will depend on how fast our brain can sense what’s happening around us, then process that information, come up with a reaction plan, and then perform the appropriate response.

As you can see from this description, your reaction time depends on how efficiently your brain and nervous system are working. So, what can you do to help improve the efficiency of your nervous system? This is a really interesting question that chiropractic researchers have been trying to help answer. The reason that chiropractors are interested in reaction time is that chiropractic care aims to improve the communication between your brain and your body so you are better able to react and respond to your environment.

When your brain can accurately perceive what is going on inside and out, it can better control your body for the situation at hand, and move your muscles in the right order and at the right speed.1-3

Researchers have now published a number of studies that have shown that chiropractic care can actually make a difference to your reaction time.

One of the first really good studies to look at how chiropractic care affects reaction time was published back in 2000.4 In this study, the researchers asked a group of students to look at a computer screen that had a letter ‘R’ on it and to hit a key on the keyboard to show whether they thought the ‘R’ was the right way around or back to front. To make it tricky, the researchers rotated the ‘R’ to lots of different angles, that way the student being tested had to mentally rotate it back in their head to really work out if it was the right way around or not.

The researchers then got a chiropractor to either adjust the person or have them lie down on a chiropractic table, without doing an adjustment, as a control intervention. What the researchers found was that after an adjustment the study subjects improved their reaction time much more than the subjects who were in the control group. They concluded that the chiropractic adjustments may have affected how quickly their brain processed the information they were seeing, which was a really interesting finding.

In 2016, another group of researchers published a study that looked at how quickly a group of older people could take a step on a platform that had 4 panels that could light up.3 When a panel lit up, they’d have to stand on it as quickly as they could.

Being able to take a fast step is really important because scientists have shown that people who are quicker at taking a step are less likely to fall.5-6 In this study, they tested the older people before, during, and after receiving 12 weeks of chiropractic care or receiving their usual medical care. What they found, was that after 12 weeks there was a dramatic, significant improvement in the chiropractic group’s step time. The improvement seen in reaction time in this study was actually 2 and a half times greater than a large clinical trial that looked at the effects of 6 months of exercise on the same stepping task.7 This might be really important when it comes to someone stopping themselves from having a fall if they trip or slip.

In another study that was published recently, what they found was that after 12 weeks there was a dramatic, significant improvement in the chiropractic group’s step time. The improvement seen in reaction time in this study was actually 2 and a half times greater than a large clinical trial that looked at the effects of 6 months of exercise on the same stepping task.8

Eight researchers tested a group of special operation forces military personnel to see whether chiropractic adjustments improved how quickly they could react and touch a set of panels on the wall in front of them that would light up at random. What they found in this study, was that when these elite soldiers were adjusted, they were quicker at reacting and responding to the lit panels than if they had no adjustment. This is a really significant finding because just imagine how important reaction time could be to a soldier!!

So, you can see that researchers are discovering that chiropractic care really does seem to have an impact on how efficiently your brain can accurately perceive what is going on around you and react to it. And maybe this could help you to move from being accident-prone to a ninja warrior.

If you want to get your ninja warrior on, why don’t you consider having your spine checked by your family chiropractor?

References

  1. Haavik & Murphy. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2012;22(5):768-76.
  2. Haavik & Murphy. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2011;34(2):88-97.
  3. Holt et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2016. 39(4):267-78.
  4. Kelly et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2000;23(4):246-51.
  5. Lord et al. Phys Ther 2003;83(3):237-52.
  6. Lord & Fitzpatrick. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2001;56(10):M627-32.
  7. Lord et al. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003;51(12):1685-92.
  8. DeVocht et al. Trials 2019;20(1):5-5. doi: 10.1186/s13063-018-3133-2. © 2020 Haavik Research Limited

Acknowledgments

  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc

Migraines & Chiropractic

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Migraines

Do you suffer from migraines? If you do, you will know how debilitating they can be. If you don’t, just imagine suffering with a throbbing headache for days on end, and feeling nauseous, and vomiting, and being unable to stand bright lights and loud noises. They really are awful!

For about 1 in 6 people around the world, they experience this on a regular basis, often many times each month.1 They are often severe and are considered by the World Health Organisation to be the most debilitating of all neurological disorders.1 Trying to carry on a normal life when you suffer from migraines can be really challenging. Caring for yourself, let alone a family, can be tough, and trying to work when all you want to do is hide in a dark quiet room can be impossible.

A sad fact is that almost half of sufferers don’t get the relief they need from usual drug treatment options.2 And to make matters worse, commonly prescribed medications for migraines can actually end up causing more headaches and more pain in the long run.2 This is a real problem!

That is why researchers and health professionals have been exploring what other healthcare options may help people who suffer from migraines. One of these options that have received quite a lot of research attention is chiropractic care. This may be because so many people with migraines see a chiropractor for help.2 Let’s take a look at what the research says about chiropractic care and migraines.

In 2019 a systematic review was published that looked at all of the clinical trials that had investigated whether chiropractic care can help people with migraines.2

What they found was that when all of the research is combined, people with migraines who saw a chiropractor or another health professional who provided spinal manipulation had fewer days with migraines each month. And they also experienced less migraine pain. That means that chiropractic care really does seem to help some people who suffer from migraines.

In one of the studies they were looking at, the researchers found that for about 1 in 5 people who suffer from migraines, their migraines almost went away completely after 2 months of chiropractic care!

We don’t know for sure who will respond well to chiropractic care, and we don’t know how much of an influence the placebo effect might have, but for some people, when they get under chiropractic care, their migraines almost completely resolve within just a couple of months.

So, if you suffer from them, or you know someone who does, consider chiropractic care, because it may really make a big difference to you or the people you care about. They don’t have to be a life sentence, so go and see a chiropractor and rediscover what life is supposed to be like.

References

  1. Goadsby PJ, et al. Pathophysiology of Migraine: A Disorder of Sensory Processing 2017;97(2):553-622.
  2. Rist PM, et al. Headache 2019;59(4):532-42.

Acknowledgments

  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc

Chiropractic and Strokes

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Chiropractic and Strokes

Having a stroke can be devastating! Not just for the person who has the stroke, but also for their family, friends, and caregivers. They are one of the leading causes of death and disability in the world.1

In fact, about 17 million people around the world suffer from a significant stroke every year! And about 5 million of them experience long term disability.2

Over the past 20 years, scientists have been showing that chiropractic care can actually change the way your brain works and how it controls your body, including movement and strength.

A stroke is something that causes a problem with the blood supply to the brain. This could be because of a blockage in an artery in the brain or a bleed in the brain itself. We all know how important our brain is, and without blood, it just doesn’t work, which is why strokes can be fatal or result in significant long-term disability.2

One of the most common disabilities after a stroke is muscle weakness, often on one side of the body. This may mean that after a stroke, a person has trouble using their arm or hand, or they may struggle to stand or walk.3 Living with muscle weakness can be really hard and have a big impact on a person’s ability to look after themselves or work.

There are lots of rehabilitative approaches that may help people who have had a stroke from physiotherapy through to robot-assisted therapies.4-6 But doctors and scientists are constantly looking for new approaches to help stroke survivors.3

Over the past 20 years, scientists have been showing that chiropractic care can actually change the way your brain works and how it controls your body, including movement and strength.7-16 A number of recent studies have shown that a single session of chiropractic care can result in an immediate increase in strength.17-20

In one of these studies, the researchers found a 16% increase in strength of leg muscles in a group of students after a session of chiropractic care.17 Another study reported an 8% increase in strength in elite athletes after they were adjusted by a chiropractor,19 and one more study found an 11% increase in jaw strength in a group of healthy people after chiropractic adjustments.18

Chiropractic May Help

But could chiropractic care help someone who has muscle weakness because they’ve had a stroke? A new study says maybe it can!20 In this study that was published in the reputable journal Scientific Reports, researchers looked at changes in strength in weak leg muscles after chiropractic care in people who had suffered from a stroke.20

The team of scientists that did this study measured the strength of weak leg muscles in chronic stroke patients before and after a single session of chiropractic care or a sham control session. They also used electrical stimulations of nerves in their legs, which could help them to work out whether any changes in strength came from their brain or something that was happening in their spinal cord. 

When they analyzed the data from their study, the scientists found an average improvement in strength of almost 65% in the affected leg of these stroke patients. They were blown away by this finding because 65% is a huge difference! They also found that these strength changes were due to changes in the way their brain was communicating with these weak muscles, as opposed to changes in their spinal cord.

These results are really exciting, but you do need to remember that the scientists only looked at immediate changes after chiropractic care, so they don’t yet know how long the changes last for. That’s why they’re now doing another study to look at how longer-term chiropractic care impacts how stroke survivors can walk and move.

However, these initial ground-breaking findings are really important and may mean that chiropractic care can help people who have had a stroke to improve their strength and ability to walk and move. So, if someone you know has suffered from a stroke, let them know that chiropractic care may really help to improve their brain/body communication and to get them moving again!

References

  1. Sherzai AZ, Elkind MS. Advances in stroke prevention. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2015;1338:1-15.
  2. Clarke DJ, Forster A. Improving post-stroke recovery: the role of the multidisciplinary health care team. J Multidiscip Healthc 2015;8:433-42.
  3. Chen JC, Shaw FZ. Progress in sensorimotor rehabilitative physical therapy programs for stroke patients. World J Clin Cases 2014;2(8):316-26.
  4. Veerbeek JM, Langbroek-Amersfoort AC, van Wegen EE, et al. Effects of Robot-Assisted Therapy for the Upper Limb After Stroke. Neurorehabilitation and neural repair 2017;31(2):107-21.
  5. Greisberger A, Aviv H, Garbade SF, et al. Clinical relevance of the effects of reach-to-grasp training using trunk restraint in individuals with hemiparesis poststroke: A systematic review. J Rehabil Med 2016;48(5):405-16.
  6. Wist S, Clivaz J, Sattelmayer M. Muscle strengthening for hemiparesis after stroke: A meta-analysis. Annals of physical and rehabilitation medicine 2016;59(2):114-24.
  7. Haavik H, Murphy B. Subclinical neck pain and the effects of cervical manipulation on elbow joint position sense. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 2011;34:88-97.
  8. Haavik H, Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2012;22(5):768-76.
  9. Haavik Taylor H, Murphy B. Altered cortical integration of dual somatosensory input following the cessation of a 20 minute period of repetitive muscle activity. Exp Brain Res 2007;178(4):488-98.
  10. Haavik Taylor H, Murphy B. Cervical spine manipulation alters sensorimotor integration: A somatosensory evoked potential study. Clin Neurophysiol 2007;118(2):391-402.
  11. Haavik Taylor H, Murphy B. Transient modu-lation of intracortical inhibition following spinal manipulation. Chiropractic Journal of Australia 2007;37:106-16.
  12. Haavik Taylor H, Murphy B. Altered sensorimotor integration with cervical spine manipulation. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2008;31(2):115-26.
  13. Haavik Taylor H, Murphy B. Altered Central Integration of Dual Somatosensory Input Following Cervical Spine Manipulation. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 2010;33 (3):178-88.
  14. Haavik Taylor H, Murphy B. The effects of spinal manipulation on central integration of dual somatosensory input observed following motor training: A crossover study. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 2010;33 (4):261-72.
  15. Marshall P, Murphy B. The Effect of Sacroiliac Joint Manipulation on Feed-Forward Activation Times of the Deep Abdominal Musculature Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2006;29(3 ):196-202.
  16. Niazi I, Türker K, Flavel S, et al. Changes in H-reflex and V waves following spinal manipulation. Exp Brain Res 2015;233:1165-73.
  17. Niazi IK, Turker KS, Flavel S, et al. Changes in H-reflex and V-waves following spinal manipulation. Exp Brain Res 2015.
  18. Haavik H, Ozyurt MG, Niazi IK, et al. Chiropractic Manipulation Increases Maximal Bite Force in Healthy Individuals. Brain sciences 2018;8(5).
  19. Christiansen TL, Niazi IK, Holt K, et al. The effects of a single session of spinal manipulation on strength and cortical drive in athletes. Eur J Appl Physiol 2018;118(4):737-49.
  20. Holt K, Niazi IK, Nedergaard RW, et al. The effects of a single session of chiropractic care on strength, cortical drive, and spinal excitability in stroke patients. Scientific Reports 2019;9(1):2673.

Acknowledgments

  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc

Pain Is Created In The Brain

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Did you know that scientists now know the feeling of pain is something your brain decides you should experience if it believes there is some tissue damage in your body? In fact, your brain can decide that you should feel pain even if it only thinks there is a potential threat of damage! 2-5

It may seem strange, but it’s totally up to your brain to decide whether you should feel pain or not. Your brain may decide you should experience pain even if you have no actual tissue damage yet,6 or your brain may not create the feeling of pain for you when tissue damage has actually occurred! 7 8 This is called the “pain paradox”. It means that the pain you feel does not always reflect the severity or even the location of your problem – if there is a problem at all. Science has shown beyond a doubt that pain is created in your brain! 2 4 9 10 

Sometimes pain can be very helpful and informative.1 Our brains create the experience of pain to let us know something is not ok.1 Maybe we are overexerting ourselves, or maybe we have had an injury that we need to be careful with to allow our body to heal. The pain can let us know what not to do while our body heals the problem.1 This pain is helpful and informative.1

If we listen to our body these pain experiences can be a good thing. But for some people, pain can persist even after the initial injury that caused it has healed.9 11 12 And for some people, the pain can spread to other areas that are not injured at all.6 For these people, the pain has become non-informative and non-helpful.9 11 12 The pain itself has become a problem. The brain has learnt to be in pain.9 11 12

The way the brain does this is very similar to the way the brain learns anything. It’s called neural plasticity – or brain adaptations.9 11 12 Brain scientists now know that what you focus on drives the way your brain will change.13-15 This can be a problem if you are focusing on your pain because it may make your pain worse. So, even if you’re in pain, try to focus on the good things in your life instead of your pain. Focus on what is working well. Focus on what makes you happy. This alone can help you!1

Brain scientists who have studied the effects of chiropractic spinal adjustments, have discovered that adjustments may change brain function.16

Chiropractic has a neuroplastic effect on the brain.16 In particular, adjustments change function in a part of your brain called the pre-frontal cortex.17 This part of your brain is actually the part of your brain that’s very involved in pain becoming chronic.8 18-21 This might be why getting chiropractic care early on when you have a problem has better long-term outcomes.22 It might also be that chiropractic care can prevent pain from becoming chronic.22

Neuroscientists believe that chiropractic care most likely helps reduce your feeling of pain by helping your brain ‘turn down’ or ‘switch off ’ the perception of pain in your brain.23 This means chiropractors may or may not adjust your spine exactly where you feel that it hurts. They are looking for parts of your spine and/or body where there is a lack of proper movement and they will adjust you there – so don’t worry if it’s not where you feel the pain.

References

  1. Seymour B. Pain: A Precision Signal for Reinforcement Learning and Control. Neuron 2019;101(6):1029-41.
  2. Koyama T, McHaffie JG, Laurienti PJ, et al. The subjective experience of pain: Where expectations become reality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2005;102(36):12950-55.
  3. Hadjistavropoulos TD, S; Goubert, L.; Mogil J.S.; Sullivan, M.J.L.; Vervoort, T.; Craig K.D.; Cano, A.; Jackson, P.L.; Rainville, P.; Williams, A.C.; Fitzgerald, T.D. A Biopsychosocial formulation of pain communication. Psychological bulletin 2011;137(6):910- 39.
  4. Wager TD. Placebo-Induced Changes in fMRI in the Anticipation and Experience of Pain. Science 2004;303(5661):1162-67.
  5. Ploghaus A. Dissociating Pain from Its Anticipation in the Human Brain. Science 1999;284(5422):1979-81.
  6. Curatolo M, Arendt-Nielsen L, Petersen-Felix S. Central Hypersensitivity in Chronic Pain: Mechanisms and Clinical Implications. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America 2006;17(2):287-302.
  7. Fenton BW, Shih E, Zolton J. The neurobiology of pain perception in normal and persistent pain. Pain management 2015;5(4):297-317.
  8. Mitsi V, Zachariou V. Modulation of pain, nociception, and analgesia by the brain reward center. Neuroscience 2016;338:81-92.
  9. Apkarian AV, Hashmi JA, Baliki MN. Pain and the brain: specificity and plasticity of the brain in clinical chronic pain. Pain 2011;152(3 Suppl):S49.
  10. Atlas LY, Bolger N, Lindquist MA, et al. Brain Mediators of Predictive Cue Effects on Perceived Pain. 2010;30(39):12964-77.
  11. May A. Chronic pain may change the structure of the brain. PAIN® 2008;137(1):7-15.
  12. Costigan M, Scholz J, Woolf CJ. Neuropathic Pain: A Maladaptive Response of the Nervous System to Damage. Annual Review of Neuroscience 2009;32(1):1-32.
  13. Draganski B, Gaser C, Busch V, et al. Changes in grey matter induced by training. Nature 2004;427(6972):311-12.
  14. Kolb B, Whishaw IQ. BRAIN PLASTICITY AND BEHAVIOR. Annual Review of Psychology 1998;49(1):43-64.
  15. Ungerleider L. Imaging Brain Plasticity during Motor Skill Learning. 2002;78(3):553-64.
  16. Haavik H, Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2012;22(5):768-76.
  17. Lelic D, Niazi IK, Holt K, et al. Manipulation of Dysfunctional Spinal Joints Affects Sensorimotor Integration in the Prefrontal Cortex: A Brain Source Localization Study. Neural plasticity 2016;2016:3704964.
  18. Apkarian AV, Thomas PS, Krauss BR, et al. Prefrontal cortical hyperactivity in patients with sympathetically mediated chronic pain. Neuroscience Letters 2001;311(3):193- 97.
  19. Seminowicz DA, Moayedi M. The Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex in Acute and Chronic Pain. The Journal of Pain 2017;18(9):1027-35.
  20. Kang D, McAuley JH, Kassem MS, et al. What does the grey matter decrease in the medial prefrontal cortex reflect in people with chronic pain? European Journal of Pain 2019;23(2):203-19.
  21. Loggia ML, Berna C, Kim J, et al. The lateral prefrontal cortex mediates the hyperalgesic effects of negative cognitions in chronic pain patients. The Journal Of Pain: Official Journal Of The American Pain Society 2015;16(8):692-99.
  22. Eklund A, Jensen I, Lohela-Karlsson M, et al. The Nordic Maintenance Care program: Effectiveness of chiropractic maintenance care versus symptom-guided treatment for recurrent and persistent low back pain-A pragmatic randomized controlled trial. PLoS One 2018;13(9):e0203029.
  23. Haavik H, Niazi IK, Holt K, et al. Effects of 12 Weeks of Chiropractic Care on Central Integration of Dual Somatosensory Input in Chronic Pain Patients: A Preliminary Study. 2017.
  24. Dalton PA, Jull GA. The distribution and characteristics of neck-arm pain in patients with and without a neurological deficit. The Australian journal of physiotherapy 1989;35(1):3-8.
  25. Holt K, Russell D, Cooperstein R, et al. Interexaminer reliability of a multidimensional battery of tests used to assess for vertebral subluxations. Chiropr J Aust 2018;46(1):101-17.
  26. Haavik H, Murphy B. Subclinical neck pain and the effects of cervical manipulation on elbow joint position sense. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2011;34(2):88-97.
  27. Holt KR, Haavik H, Lee AC, et al. Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care to Improve Sensorimotor Function Associated With Falls Risk in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2016.

Chiropractic Care and Breastfeeding

By | Benefits of Chiropractic | No Comments

For many mothers and babies, breastfeeding can be a real challenge! We know that about 80-90% of mothers try to breastfeed at birth, but by 1 week of age as few as half of the mothers are still exclusively breastfeeding. What does the research say about the potential for chiropractic care to help with breastfeeding problems?

It is recommended that babies should be exclusively breastfed until they are about six months of age, but only about 1% of mothers continue to exclusively breastfeed until this age.

There are of course lots of reasons that mothers give up on breastfeeding… from sore nipples to inadequate milk supply, or baby having issues with latching or sucking. All too often these problems lead to too much pain, or even a breast infection and ultimately, and understandably, the mother gives up on breastfeeding because it just gets too hard. This is a real shame because we know that breastfeeding is important for baby’s health.

We know that babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from ear infections and tummy bugs, they’re even less likely to develop asthma or other conditions that can be life-threatening. It just goes without saying that nature knows best, and that breastfeeding is the optimal form of nutrition for infants. So, if someone is having issues with breastfeeding what can they do about it? Luckily help is available! One healthcare professional that many new mothers turn to for help is their family chiropractor. But why might a chiropractor help with breastfeeding? Well, the answer is simple. Chiropractors see babies to help improve the way their body and nervous system functions, so they get the best possible start in life.

But why might a baby have problems with the way they move and function? That’s another simple question to answer. Spending nine months growing in mom’s tummy can get really cramped. Before a baby is even born, the pressure they’re under in mom’s uterus can cause changes to the way their bones move and fuse together or the shape of their skull. And then the strains that the baby faces during delivery, either as they pass through the birth canal, or from forceps or other forms of assisted delivery, can cause injuries to the baby’s spine or nervous system or other joints that doctors and parents may not even be aware of.

We know that successful breastfeeding relies on lots of complex movements that involve the spine and jaw. And we know that babies with breastfeeding problems often have imbalances in the way their spine and jaw work. We also know that chiropractic care has a positive impact on the way our spine and jaw work. So, it makes sense that chiropractic care might be able to help with breastfeeding problems.

So, what does the research tell us about whether chiropractic care may help mothers and babies who are struggling with breastfeeding? At this stage, large, costly clinical trials haven’t been done to really study how much chiropractic care can help, so we can’t say for sure how effective it is. But what the research that has been done tells us is that many mothers who take their babies to chiropractors because they’re struggling with breastfeeding, report really good changes after their baby is adjusted.

In one study that was conducted in the UK, the researchers followed 114 mothers and babies who were presented to a chiropractic teaching clinic for care. All the babies were under the age of 12 weeks, and they were all unable to breastfeed exclusively.

The babies were seen by the chiropractic students up to 9 times, and the students used low force chiropractic techniques to release tension and improve muscular imbalances. The researchers were most interested in whether a baby would be able to breastfeed exclusively after they received chiropractic care, but they also looked at the mother’s rating of overall improvement and baby’s weight gain.

What they found was that all the children showed some improvement, with over three-quarters of them being able to exclusively breastfeed after just 2 to 5 chiropractic visits over a 2-week period.

From a study like this, we don’t know how much the placebo effect was involved, and with care provided by chiropractic students, we don’t know if the results would have been even better if an experienced chiropractor provided the chiropractic care. But what we do know, is this study suggests that for some babies with breastfeeding problems, chiropractic care may help mother and baby to breastfeed exclusively, which is a great thing for mother and baby alike.

We also know from other research, that when appropriately applied, chiropractic is known to be safe for kids and babies. So, if you’re having trouble with breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to have your baby checked by a chiropractor to make sure they get the best possible start in life.

References

  1. Miller et al. JEBIM 2016;21(2):85-91.
  2. Fry. J Clin Chiropr Pediatr 2014;14(2).
  3. Alcantara et al. Explore (NY) 2015;11(6):468-74.
  4. Miller et al. J
  5. Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009;32(8):670-4.
  6. Patel & Patel. Journal of human lactation 2016;32(3):530-41.
  7. Vallone. J Clin Chiropr Pediatr 2004;6(1) 7. Waddington et al. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2015;115(11):654-65.
  8. Morrison & Chariker. The Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association 2006;104(4):136-40.
  9. Kirschner et al. Plastic and reconstructive surgery 2002;109(7):2338-46;
  10. Chaturvedi et al. Spine 2018;9(1):103-18.
  11. Haavik et al. Brain sciences 2018;8(5)
  12. Henderson. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2012;22(5):632-42
  13. Todd et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2015. 38(9):699-712
  14. Doyle. Clinical Chiropractic 2011;14(3):97-105.

Acknowledgments

  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc

Chiropractic Care and Pregnancy

By | Benefits of Chiropractic, chiropractic adjustment, Chiropractic Myths, fibromyalgia, gonstead chiropractic, gut problems, kids chiropractic, pregnancy | No Comments

Chiropractic Care and Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a really exciting time for parents as they get ready for their family to grow with the baby’s arrival. As the baby grows, mum’s body changes as she prepares to give birth.

Sometimes these changes can be uncomfortable or painful, with about three-quarters of pregnant mums suffering from pain in their back or pelvis.1, 2 This is one reason that so many pregnant mums seek chiropractic care.

Is it safe?

When deciding whether they should see a chiropractor, pregnant mums often ask ‘is it safe to be adjusted by the chiropractor when I’m pregnant?’ The good news is that chiropractors can tailor the care they provide to each individual patient and the research suggests that chiropractic care during pregnancy is safe for both mum and baby.4,6

What does the research say?

But what does the research tell us about the benefits of seeing a chiropractor while you’re pregnant? When it comes to back pain, not many big studies have been done yet that have looked at whether chiropractic care helps pregnant mums.3

So, although more research is needed, results from the research that has been done so far are promising and seem to show that for some pregnant mums, chiropractic care can be really helpful.4 In one study, researchers in Switzerland followed 115 pregnant women for a year who went to see a chiropractor with low back pain.5 What they found in this study was that over half of the patients said they ‘improved’ after just 1 week of chiropractic care, and after a month that figure had grown to 70%.

In a study conducted in New Zealand, researchers studied pelvic floor muscle function in pregnant women before and after they were adjusted by a chiropractor.

By the end of the study, about 90% of the mums who entered the study said their pain was better. From this study, we can’t be sure if it was the chiropractic care that really helped them but at the end of the study over 85% of the mums said they were happy with the care they received from their chiropractor.

Could chiropractic care help me through delivery?

One area researchers think chiropractic care may help pregnant moms is with the delivery of their baby. For a woman in labor, the ability to relax and contract her pelvic floor muscles is really important for helping the baby to move through the birth canal.7 Ideally, for the birth process to go as well as possible, giving the greatest chance of natural, vaginal birth, you want strong pelvic floor muscles that can relax and contract at just the right time.7, 8

New Zealand Research Study

In a study conducted in New Zealand, researchers studied pelvic floor muscle function in pregnant women before and after they were adjusted by a chiropractor. What they found was that after the pregnant women were adjusted, their pelvic floor muscles appeared to relax more when they were at rest.

This relaxation of their pelvic floor muscles after they were adjusted may mean that chiropractic care could help them to have a natural vaginal delivery. This was only a small trial, and the researchers couldn’t be sure how much of an impact these relaxed muscles would have on labour itself, but it does suggest that for pregnant mums, chiropractic care may give them more control over their pelvic floor muscles, which may make childbirth easier. Other research supports this idea with one study reporting that new mums experience on average a 25% reduction in the length of labour time with chiropractic care during pregnancy and that rises to a 31% reduction for mothers who have given birth before.It makes sense to keep yourself as healthy as possible during your pregnancy.

So, if you want help with the way your spine and nervous system are functioning, consider seeing your chiropractor, because it’s natural, safe, and may help you to feel better and boost your chances of having a faster, easier delivery of your little bundle of joy.

References

  1. Malmqvist, et al. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2012;35(4):272-8.
  2. Weis, et al. Journal Of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada 2018;40(8):1038-43.
  3. Stuber & Smith. Journal Of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2008;31(6):447-54.
  4. Borggren. Pregnancy and Chiropractic: a Narrative Review Of the Literature. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2007;6(2):70-74.
  5. Peterson, Muhlemann, Humphreys. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2014;22(1):15.
  6. Stuber, Wynd, Weis. Chiropr Man Therap 2012;20:8.
  7. Yan, et al. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Systems Biology and Medicine 2016;8(6):506-16.
  8. Du, et al. International Urogynecology Journal 2015;26(10):1415-27.

Acknowledgments

  • Dr. Heidi Haavik – BSc(Physiol) BSc(Chiro) PhD
  • Dr. Kelly Holt – BSc, BSc(Chiro), PGDipHSc, PhD
  • Dr. Jenna Duehr – BChiro, BHSC (Nursing), MHSc