The Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research published the results of a study on October 15, 2018, that showed postural improvements in subjects who had undergone chiropractic care specifically designed to align the top bone in the neck. The postural improvements were measures using Computer Dynamic Posturography (CDP) testing.
The study begins with a definition of posture. “Human posture is defined as the set of angles expressed at each joint that determine the relative disposition among the segments of the body and the maintenance of the body mass over the base of support.” They further explain that standing upright requires a complex combination of neurological and biomechanical responses to the position of the human body while standing. The ongoing feedback from the parts of the body back to the central nervous system allow the body to make the continual tiny adjustments needed to stand erect, walk, or perform any basic movement.
The study notes that even when you are standing still, the body is actually in motion making continual changes to allow you to stand. The authors explain, “Gravity causes a forward fall of the body and thus the body is constantly fine-tuning human posture by applying a counter-torque that results in a swaying motion to counteract the forces of gravity. These postural adjustments are called equilibrium reactions. Because of the necessity to counteract gravity, postural sway is constant, even when attempting to stand still.”
In describing the reason for this study the authors stated, “This project was designed as a feasibility study to investigate if a precise chiropractic adjustment to the atlas vertebrae could improve postural stability and serve as a preliminary study to answer the question of whether or not this type of chiropractic care can reduce the risk of falls in patients with various balance impairments.” Their stated hypotheses for this study was that, “Chiropractic works on the theory that misalignments and/or fixations of the spine can cause neurological interference through various neurophysiological mechanisms. This interference, when caused by a spinal misalignment/fixation is termed a subluxation.”
In this study, there were nine participants who met all the requirements and were able to follow through completely with the study. Computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) was used initially, and twice during the study to determine postural results to the chiropractic care. Dynamic posturography involves measuring the subject’s posture specifically while disrupting their posture using a foam cushion or a moving/tilting platform. All participants in the study received specific forms of chiropractic adjustments to only the upper cervical spine.
The results documented that all nine subjects showed improvement from their first CPD scan to their last scan. The CPD test issues a stability index score. The higher the score the better. The results reported, “The average stability index score for all 9 subjects as measured by a percent was 75.1% for the 1st scan, a 78.0% for the 2nd scan and 80.6% during the 3rd scan resulting in a 7% increase among all subjects between the 1st and 3rd scans.”
The conclusion from this study was that the top bone in the neck, known as the atlas, has a profound effect on how the body handles its own posture. The researchers stated, “The results supported the hypothesis that a misalignment of the atlas vertebrae can cause neurological change in regards to sensorimotor integration and that correcting the misalignment will result in improved postural control.”