The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published a case study on November 20, 2017, documenting the improvement in quality of life and health outcomes for a patient with multiple sclerosis undergoing chiropractic care.
The study authors begin by defining multiple sclerosis. “Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disorder in which focal areas in the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord) undergo demyelination.” Demyelination is when there is damage to the protective covering surrounding nerve fibers in your brain, optic nerves or spinal cord. These coverings are known as the myelin sheath. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve impulses slow or can even stop, causing a wide variety of neurological problems. Some of the symptoms that can occur include numbness, tingling, stiffness, weakness, visual problems, dizziness, gait problems, depression, fatigue or thinking issues.
Although MS can develop at any age, it is most common between the ages of 20 and 40 years. The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation estimates that there are more than 400,000 people in the United States suffering from MS. Worldwide that number is about 2.5 million people with MS. About 200 new cases are diagnosed each week in the United States alone.
In this case, a 57-year-old woman suffering from a number of symptoms went to a chiropractor. Her complaints started with the sudden onset of bilateral foot numbness. She also began noticing numbness in her right hand, neck pain, headaches, ringing in her ears, and what she described as “blotchiness” in her vision.
Due to the sudden vision issue, a neurologist suspected MS and ordered an MRI to be performed. The MRI confirmed the presence of lesions in various parts of her central nervous system indicative of MS.
A chiropractic examination was performed which also found a number of motor-function and balance issues. Postural asymmetries were also noted and spinal palpation showed areas of edema, increased muscle tension, restricted motion, and reduced joint play. Spinal x-rays showed areas of degenerative disc disease and mild osteoporosis throughout the woman’s entire spine. From the findings, it was determined that multiple subluxations were present in the woman’s spine.
A series of specific chiropractic adjustments were given to address the subluxations according to specific chiropractic criteria. An evaluation was done after the first 12 visits to monitor the response to care. The woman reported that she felt 70% improvement in her symptoms. A re-examination confirmed that her muscle strength had returned to normal. Additionally, her deep tendon reflexes had improved from where they were before chiropractic care. The woman reported that her vision issues and the numbness in her feet remained, but the sensory dysfunction in her hands had been resolved.
In their discussion and conclusion, the authors note the woman’s improvement and offer a possible explanation. They state, “The patient in this case study reported positive health outcomes while receiving chiropractic care.” In explaining they continue, “The main question requiring an explanation is how a mechanical input such as chiropractic adjustments could produce neurophysiological changes such as reducing MS symptoms in a human body.” The explanation they offer is that vertebral subluxation cause interference with the input signals entering the nervous system. This could then lead to aberrant responses and adaptations by the body resulting in symptoms. Correction of subluxations can help to reverse this process.