The Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published a case study on March 9, 2017, describing a patient who was having severe pain with no medical reason being found. The patient was referred to a psychiatrist but instead went to a chiropractor where she found relief.
The study begins by pointing out that throughout the history of chiropractic, many patients who found help under chiropractic were prior medical failures. The authors stated, “In more than a century of the chiropractic profession, anecdotes and testimonials are replete with describing the success of chiropractic care in patients with a history of non-responsiveness to medical care.”
In many cases where no medical reason for pain can be found, the patient is often sent for psychiatric evaluation and told they have conditions such as conversion disorder or hysteria, or simply told that their problem is “all in your head.” The patient in this case study fits this category.
In this case, a 16-year-old girl went to the chiropractor with her parents consent. Two days earlier, she had suffered an injury while throwing a discus. She reported that she heard and felt a “rip” upon release of the discus. She immediately felt a severe stabbing burning pain across her shoulders and lower neck. She rated the pain as a 10 out of 10 using a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being the worst pain. Within 40 minutes, she reported that her left arm went numb and weak.
No chiropractic care was rendered at the time of her first visit and the girl went to an orthopedic specialist for further evaluation. She remained in a hospital for 8 days during which time an orthopedic evaluation was performed. This included an MRI which showed no findings. Because the the orthopedic tests did not find a reason for her pain, and because she had a past history of depression, the girl was discharged from the hospital and referred to a psychiatrist for evaluation. After 11 additional days, she returned to the chiropractor and chiropractic care was started.
Following her first chiropractic adjustment, the girl reported a 50% increased muscle strength within 1 hour of her visit. By her 4th visit, she reported that she had regained normal use of her left arm. However, she continued to experience neck pain and stiffness. By the sixth visit, her pain was gone and her full range of motion had returned.
Approximately 5 months later, the girl reported another injury after being hit on the head with a basketball. From this injury, she started to experience some of her initial symptoms, but not as severe. After one adjustment, the girl reported a complete recovery from her symptoms.
In their conclusion, the authors summed up this case by saying, “This case report described the successful chiropractic care of a teenager with vertebral subluxations and signs and symptoms not congruent with objective outcome measures. Such patients may benefit from chiropractic care despite the lack of positive medical testing to inform medical care.”