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Upper Back Pain and Sciatica Helped with Chiropractic Care
The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published the results of a case study on January 16, 2024, documenting the improvement, under chiropractic care, of a patient with scoliosis who was suffering with upper back pain and sciatica.
Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine when viewed on a front or back x-ray. In many cases, scoliosis was present as an adolescent but went undiagnosed if not accompanied by pain. Common medical treatment for scoliosis where the curvature is not too severe involves addressing any pain. This commonly means pain medications or anti-inflammatory drugs. Medical treatment may also involve physical therapy.
In this case, a 30-year-old woman presented herself for chiropractic care. The woman stated that she had been suffering with upper back pain and sciatica for more than 10 years. She rated her upper back pain as an 8 out of 10, with 10 being the worst. She also reported that her sciatic pain, which she rated as a 7 out of 10, affected her daily life. She noted that the severe pain interfered with her ability to do regular daily activities such as bending, driving, household chores, lifting, or just standing.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included spinal palpation, range of motion, postural analysis, and some orthopedic testing. Spinal x-rays were also taken. The study reports that the x-rays showed the presence of scoliosis along with spinal subluxations.
Specific forms of chiropractic adjustments were started to address the subluxations found on the examination. The author noted, "The aim of this chiropractic care was to decrease vertebral subluxation findings, decrease upper back pain and sciatica as well as to improve the patient’s activities of daily living."
The study author explains the chiropractic approach to helping people with pain from scoliosis by saying, "The curvature and rotation of the vertebrae in cases of scoliosis can be due in part to vertebral subluxation and can contribute to the symptoms of subluxation. Subluxation is caused by the rotation of a vertebra compared to the segment below. It can cause functional and structural changes that affect neural integrity and may negatively impact overall health. Symptoms such as back pain and sciatica may be associated with the presence of subluxation in a patient."
By the time of the patient’s first re-examination, her upper back pain had reduced to 4 out of 10, and her sciatic pain had decreased to just 2 out of 10. As care continued, the woman continued to see improvement. Eventually she reported that she no longer had sciatic pain, and her upper back pain was only present at a level of 2 out of 10.
In addition to pain relief, the improvement the woman experienced had a profound effect on her quality of life. The study reported, "The correction of vertebral subluxation was successful in reducing her current pain level and improving her cervical and lumbar ranges of motion. The patient stated that prior to starting care, she was scared to consider trying to start a family for fear of the physical toll that it would take on her body. Following her care, she felt that she would be able to do so and to continue under care during her future pregnancy as well."
The study author summed up this case by saying, "Initially, this patient was dealing with daily pain in her upper back as well as daily sciatica down her right leg. Both of these issues had been present for more than 10 years. After having unsuccessful physical therapy, she felt that chiropractic care could be an option for her. She was able to perform her activities of daily living in a pain-free way and felt more optimistic about her family’s future following the delivery of chiropractic care."
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome Helped by Chiropractic
The Journal of Physical Therapy Science published the results of a case study on January 1, 2024, documenting the improvement, as a result of chiropractic care, of a patient who was suffering with pain after failed back surgery. The National Library of Medicine states, "Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain as lumbar spinal pain of unknown origin either persisting despite surgical intervention or appearing after surgical intervention for spinal pain originally in the same topographical location."
The authors of this study speculate on the causes of FBSS by saying, "This condition may be the result of inadequate or poor pre-surgical diagnostics, concomitant conditions such as obesity, diabetes, mental health issues, and osteoporosis which all can contribute to FBSS." They also point out that there have not been many studies that record chiropractic successes after failed lower back surgery. "FBSS is not widely studied and reports of successful non-surgical treatment of FBSS are extremely rare in the medical literature."
In this case, a 27-year-old man went to the chiropractor for his lower back pain along with numbness in the left thigh. Five years earlier, the man had gone to a surgeon for his back pain. The surgeon recommended and performed surgery to add an instrument to increase space between the young man’s lower lumbar discs. The history records that the man’s pain got much worse, so a second surgery was performed to remove the instrument. Since then, the man has suffered with worse than his original lower back pain which he rated as between a 6 and 7 out of ten, with 10 being the worst. The study reports that the original records about the man’s surgery were unavailable because the surgeon was incarcerated.
A comprehensive chiropractic examination was performed along with spinal x-rays. As a result of the examination, a specific chiropractic care plan was started which included specific spinal exercises. A re-evaluation of the man’s condition was performed after the first five months of chiropractic care. That examination revealed that the man had experienced a 50% reduction in his back pain. Additionally, a number of the specific spinal tests showed that there was measurable improvement in the man’s spinal condition.
Chiropractic care continued after the first re-examination for a period of time. Six years after the start of chiropractic care, a follow-up assessment was performed to check on the man’s long-term progress. This assessment revealed that the man had seen a 70% improvement in his pain and was no longer experiencing any thigh numbness. There was also a structural improvement seen on x-rays in the man’s lumbar spine. Other tests showed that the man’s quality of life scores had also dramatically improved.
In the conclusion of this study, the authors commented on chiropractic helping patients who had previously received unsuccessful spinal surgery. "This case adds to the growing literature showing the efficacy of non-surgical spinal rehabilitative methods in improving outcomes in patients with spinal deformity and associated disabilities."
Long Term Back Pain, Neck Pain, and Leg Pain Helped by Chiropractic
A case study published by Cureus on January 3, 2024, and appearing on the National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information website documented the improvement of chronic widespread pain with chiropractic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers chronic pain to be pain lasting more than 3 months. Many people have pain that has been present much longer than that.
The CDC reports that, "During 2021, an estimated 20.9% of U.S. adults (51.6 million persons) experienced chronic pain, and 6.9% (17.1 million persons) experienced high-impact chronic pain." They also note that chronic pain is linked with depression, dementia, substance abuse, and a higher rate of suicide. The U.S. National Institutes of Health states that "Chronic pain is highly persistent, with almost two-thirds (61.4%) of those who reported chronic pain in 2019 still reporting chronic pain a year later."
As bad as the problem of chronic pain is, this study documents a patient who suffered from chronic pain for 48 years before receiving chiropractic care. In this case, a 60-year-old man presented himself at a chiropractic office. His history revealed that at age 12 he was injured while lifting hay bales on a farm. For years, he treated the pain by taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Eventually, the OTC medications stopped giving any relief and the man was developing GI problems from continually taking these medications.
Upon going to the chiropractor, the man reported long-term pain in multiple areas. These included his upper back and shoulders, neck, lower and mid back pain, and leg pain. He had been suffering with these pains for continually for 48 years. As a result of these problems, the man reported a significant reduction in his physical abilities.
A chiropractic examination was performed which included a postural assessment, range of motion tests, orthopedic testing, pain assessment testing, and spinal x-rays. The findings from the examination and x-rays showed multiple positive results including abnormal spine alignment, and disability due to the pain. Based upon this, it was determined to start a program of specific chiropractic care.
The results of the chiropractic care were recorded on a re-assessment examination performed after 12 visits. A number of objective tests were performed which showed improvement to the point where most of the tests no longer showed any restrictions or positive findings. At that time, the man reported that his worst pain, which was his lower back, was 90% improved. He also reported that his leg pain was totally gone, as was his mid-back pain and his neck and shoulder pains. One year later, a follow-up was done which showed that all his improvements were still present.
In summing up this case and how chiropractic can have a beneficial affect on people suffering from long term pain, the authors of the study stated, "The aim of this study is to present the successful treatment in a patient suffering from pain and disability due to long term results of injury as teen. This study can provide clinicians with a treatment option for treating patients suffering with chronic pain."
Tonsillitis Resolved Under Chiropractic Care
The Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research released the results of a case study on February 1, 2024, documenting the resolution of enlarged tonsils on a pediatric patient receiving chiropractic care. According to the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information, "Tonsillitis, or inflammation of the tonsils, is a common disease and makes up approximately 1.3% of outpatient visits."
This study begins by referencing a previous study on tonsillitis and chiropractic care. "A study conducted in England in 1991 revealed significant findings regarding the treatment of tonsillitis in children. When twenty-seven children received adjustments, twenty-five experienced complete relief from their symptoms." The study suggests a link between subluxations and the susceptibility of tonsilitis infections.
Additional research cited by the author of this study showed that "Tonsillitis is strongly associated with restricted movement in the craniocervical junction. Among seventy-six children diagnosed with chronic tonsillitis and movement restriction in this area, a striking seventy of them showed spinal dysfunction between the occiput and atlas."
A third previous study on this subject was described by the author when he said, "Further investigation involved thirty-seven children who had not undergone surgery. After receiving adjustments, they were followed up for five years. Impressively, 67.6% of these children were entirely cured of tonsillitis, while the remaining cases experienced relapses and required additional chiropractic -based care. Among twenty-five children who had their tonsils surgically removed, nineteen still suffered from movement restriction even after the surgery, necessitating chiropractic for relief."
In this case, a mother brought her 5-year-old daughter to a chiropractor because her daughter had enlarged tonsils. At that time, her daughter was not having any pain or symptoms from the tonsillitis, but her mother wanted to avoid the possibility of tonsil surgery. Surgery had been suggested by an ENT who examined the little girl.
A chiropractic examination was performed which showed a decrease in motion of the upper neck area along with swelling of the tissues in that area. Thermography and surface EMG tests were also performed. Neck x-rays were taken to rule out pathologies and look for the presence of vertebral subluxations. From these tests, it was determined that subluxations were present in the girl’s spine.
Specific forms of chiropractic care were started to address the subluxations. The results of the adjustments were an overall improvement in the girl’s function and a reduction of the size of the tonsils. The study author summed up the results of chiropractic care in this case in his conclusion when he stated, "This case study exemplifies the effective management of a pediatric patient experiencing tonsillitis, potentially linked to upper cervical vertebral subluxation."