There is more to what we do than just treating spine pain and there is a greater impact on your health, beyond pain relief, that our care may provide. In this blog I have pointed out the research that illustrates how chiropractic care in general and our care specifically may help your entire health beyond getting free from pain. A recent study has noted an increase in brain blood flow due to spine care.
This is a study done based on a 2016 study which found that a decrease in the neck curve was associated with decreased blood flow to the brain. This study involved measuring the neck curve of 30 people using the same methods we use in our office. The authors of this study then measured vertebral artery blood flow to the brain of patients who had a healthy neck curve vs patients who did not have a curve in their neck. They found that having a healthy neck curve resulted in a greater volume of blood flow to the brain, among other findings. They also found that having no neck curve resulted in a smaller volume of blood flow to the brain. While this study did not investigate what increased blood flow meant in terms of brain or body function I think it is safe to say that having more blood flowing to our brain is better than less.
In our current study the authors looked at blood flow before and after improving a neck curve in 7 patients. A small scale study but it provides us with a starting point for future, larger studies to be based upon. The authors measured the cervical spine using the same x-ray method in the study above and the methods we use in our office. In this study the authors didn’t do 36 visits of care to fix the patients neck curve. They examined the blood flow through the vertebral artery using a special MRI, called an MRA, which is used for examining our arteries. The measured blood flow with the MRA then placed the patient on a cervical Denneroll, the same that we use, in the correct way to fix each patients neck curve based on the x-rays. While laying on the cervical Denneroll they remeasured the MRA. When compared to the pre-treatment MRA, each patient’s post-treatment MRA showed significant improvement.
In both of these studies the authors measured blood flow through the vertebral arteries. These are important because they feed blood to the upper portion of our spinal cord, our brain stem, cerebellum, and posterior part of our brain. While the vertebral arteries are not as large as the carotid arteries, it is because of the area of our nervous system they feed that makes them important to our nervous system function.
This is a significant study as it shows that the benefit of improving the neck curve includes improvement of blood flow through the vertebral arteries to the brain. We have other studies which show that improving the neck curve results in pain relief that lasts longer than standard care alone. I have also discussed a study which showed that improving the neck curve resulted in faster brain-body communication in the nervous system. While there is not mention of what this increased blood flow might mean to our function, as I said before, having more blood reach our nervous system is better than less because less could mean death. There is a strong relationship between the curves in our spine to pain and function and by correcting the curves in our spine we can experience improved function as well as a decrease in pain. Spinal curve and posture correction is a key component to the care we provide in our office.