The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published a case study on June 28, 2018, documenting the long-term improvement of neck curvature and the improvement of autonomic nerve system function in a patient undergoing chiropractic care. The purpose of this study was to examine changes to the neck curvature because of chiropractic care and the resulting changes to autonomic nerve system function.
The study begins with an explanation of the importance between proper biomechanical structure and body function. “The normal alignment of the spine and its complex biomechanics have been subject to investigation in the past decades. There is now a large body of evidence suggesting that the disruption of its alignment has both physiological and anatomical consequences in the human organism.”
A normal upright human spine should have four curves when viewed from the side on x-rays. These curves include a forward curve in the neck, and curve backward in the upper mid spine, and inward forward curve in the lower back, and a forward curve of the base and tail section at the bottom of the spine. An x-ray from the front or back of the spine should show a spine that is straight with little or no deviation to either side.
The curve that seems to be the most susceptible to change and has drawn the most attention in chiropractic is the neck curvature. According to the study, neck curvature loss has been associated with conditions such as ADHD, otitis media, respiratory conditions, neck and upper back pain, low back pain, sinus infections, vertigo, nausea as well as vascular, migraine and tension headaches.
For the purposes of this research, only the objective biomechanical and functional results were reported in this case study. In this case, a 26-year-old man presented himself to the chiropractor for a several musculoskeletal complaints. No previous surgical interventions or medications were reported. Upon meeting the criteria for inclusion of this study, the man underwent a case history interview as well as chiropractic examination using video-fluoroscopy, static film x-rays as well as infrared thermography heat studies.
The static x-rays of the man’s neck showed a reversal of the cervical curvature with an abnormal forward tilting of the man’s top neck bone, called the atlas. Video-fluoroscopy, also known as motion x-rays, of the man’s neck showed multiple locking-type areas of restricted or reduced movement. These two types of x-ray findings verified a structural problem within the man’s spine.
Infrared paraspinal thermography was also performed to record heat variations along the spine from side to side as well as one spinal level to the next. The variations present, along with a consistent pattern of the variation in this man’s spine, demonstrate an effect on the autonomic nervous system which controls heat levels by varying body surface blood supply.
After a period of time of specific forms of chiropractic care being rendered, motion and static x-rays were performed and compared to the initial studies. Periodic infrared paraspinal thermography scans were also performed and compared to the earlier studies.
The results of these follow-up procedures showed improvements in the curvature of the man’s neck to where it changed from a reversed curvature to a slight forward curvature. Additionally, the motion x-rays showed improvement in segmental motion. These x-ray findings document and confirm an improvement in the biomechanical structure of this man’s spine.
The follow-up thermography scans no longer showed an abnormal pattern, and overall showed a reduction toward normal of heat variations. This demonstrated a positive change in the man’s autonomic nerve system function.