The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published the results of a case series on April 17, 2020, documenting the reduction of anxiety in five adults in a case series undergoing chiropractic care. Anxiety disorder is considered a form of mental illness that affects an estimated 31.1% of adults in the United States.
According to the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, “…anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.”
The study reports that anxiety disorders are the ninth leading cause of nonfatal burden in years of living with a disability. They also note that the estimated economic burden is $46.6 billion yearly.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) is considered the main resource document for classification of mental disorders. According to the DSM-5, the criteria for anxiety disorder is “excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation) occurring on more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance)”.
This case series reviewed five patients (2 female and 3 male) presenting for chiropractic care with a complaint of anxiety. The patients ranged in age from 24 to 53. All of the patients came to the chiropractor because of musculoskeletal complaints such as headache, neck pain, and/or back pain, with one seeking chiropractic for help with hypertension. All patients expressed a desire to decrease stress and their anxiety.
The Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), a widely accepted means of rating anxiety, was used to rate and document the severity of the patient’s anxiety prior to, and after chiropractic care.
The results of the study showed that all HAM-A scores of the patients undergoing chiropractic care indicated a reduction in severity of anxiety symptoms. Three of the patients’ scores improved from initially being moderate/severe, reducing in severity to mild anxiety symptoms. The other two patients went from initially being moderate/severe to reducing down to the lowest level of mild/moderate severity of anxiety symptoms.
In their discussion and conclusion, the study authors noted, “This case series chronicles the reduction in severity of anxiety and improvement in autonomic nervous system function in 5 patients receiving chiropractic care. Considering the burden mental health issues, such as anxiety, have on society globally, further clinical research investigating the role of chiropractic care and its effects on anxiety is warranted.”