On March 23, 2020, the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published the results of a case study documenting chiropractic helping an elderly patient who was suffering from severe neck pain and immobility with significant spinal disc degeneration.
The authors of the study begin by noting how common musculoskeletal and spinal degenerative issues are in the population. “Musculoskeletal pain is a leading cause of disability in the United States. As age and degeneration progresses without proper care, the probability increases that degeneration of the spine ensues to the point of complete disability. Degenerative disc disease is a very common cause for neck pain.”
Spinal disc degeneration is a progressive and worsening problem if not properly cared for. Web-MD explains the process on their website by saying, “Degenerative disk disease is when normal changes that take place in the disks of your spine cause pain. Spinal disks are like shock absorbers between the vertebrae, or bones, of your spine. They help your back stay flexible, so you can bend and twist. As you get older, they can show signs of wear and tear. They begin to break down and may not work as well.”
The authors of this study explain the process of disc degeneration by noting “When there is a breakdown of the intervertebral discs in the cervical spine, it can lead to pain, immobility, osteophyte formation and even radiating arm pain and associated weakness; all of which can be associated with vertebral subluxation.”
In this case, a 78-year-old woman suffering from neck pain for over 25 years went to the chiropractor hoping to get some relief. She told the chiropractor that her neck pain was so severe, rating it as a 7 out of 10 with 10 being the worst, that she was unable to perform normal duties at work which resulted in decreased work hours due to her pain and inability to function. Her pain was so severe that she was unable to turn her head while driving to view traffic and she was scared that she may have to surrender her drivers license.
A chiropractic examination and x-rays confirmed severe spinal degeneration with stenosis of the spinal canal and severe spinal subluxations. Due to these findings, age and condition appropriate specific chiropractic adjustments were given at the rate of two times per week for the first six weeks of care. The focus of the care was to address the subluxations found in her spine.
After four chiropractic adjustments, the woman reported no pain for the first time in over 20 years. After two months, the patient reported that she was able to return to work for a full day without pain. Follow-up examinations confirmed an improvement in her spinal ranges of motion and function.
In their study conclusion, the authors summed up this case by saying, “This patient initially viewed themselves as disabled with inability to perform her job and endangering the safety of others while driving. She can now resume activities of daily living such as working a full workday and driving with no complication following the delivery of chiropractic care.”