Chiropractic treatment improves rheumatoid arthritis

Dr. David Jockers

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic auto-immune disease where the body's immune system attacks different regions of the body. This disease is characterized by chronic inflammation that destroys joints, tissues and organs over a period of time. A recent study published in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research describes how specific chiropractic adjustments and rehab exercises demonstrated outstanding results in a woman with long-term rheumatoid arthritis.

A 54-year-old woman went to see a chiropractor after having been diagnosed seven years prior with rheumatoid arthritis. Her chief complaint was severe bilateral polyarthralgia, especially in the hands and fingers. The patient also had marked swelling in her hands, fingers, knees, toes and feet. The patient exhibited difficulties with weight bearing, ambulation, and had recurrent stiffness every morning. The patient was taking Methotrexate and Prednisone daily to manage her symptoms. She described her pain as a constant nine on a 1-10 scale of severity.

The patient was evaluated using various assessment tools including posture evaluation, surface electromyography and x-ray imaging. Subluxation was found throughout the spine, especially in the upper cervical region. Hypolordosis of the cervical curvature with associated forward head shift was another clinical feature.

Research has shown that forward head posture can add a significant amount of abnormal leverage pulling the entire spine out of alignment and restricting normal respiration processes. This sort of posture problem can result in a loss of 30 percent of vital lung capacity. Lowered oxygen states alter immunological control in the body.

Subluxation is the term for misalignments of the spine that cause irritation of nerve pathways, affecting organ systems of the body. Birth trauma, falls, whiplash and poor posture are known to cause subluxation patterns to develop in the body. This sort of physical nerve stress leads to altered measures of immune function and increased susceptibility to a number of diseases.

Subluxation contributes to chronic inflammatory states

Chronic inflammatory based disease processes are influenced by the nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Nerve stimulation is essential for the growth, function and control of inflammatory cells. Researchers have noted that abnormal neurological control results in the development of various auto-immune based inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Wellness based chiropractors give a detailed analysis of the spine to locate areas of vertebral subluxation. Specific corrective adjustments are given to reduce the subluxation and restore normal function to the nervous system. A group of researchers found that when a thoracic adjustment was applied to a subluxated area, the white blood cell count collected rose significantly. Many studies have confirmed that specific adjustments of the upper cervical spine and improvements in posture have a major effect on normalizing immune function.

This patient was analyzed and given an appropriate full-spine adjustment each visit for a total of 36 visits in four months. The patient also did rehabilitative exercises such as wobble board and repetitive traction to improve soft tissue function and restore core strength and spinal curvatures.

After receiving four months of corrective chiropractic care, the patient's pain scale went from 9/10 to a 1/10. She no longer was taking the Methotrexate or Prednisone to manage her symptoms. The patient was now able to walk up and down the stairs, dance and exercise without pain. Post-treatment testing revealed significant changes in posture and cervical curvature as noted on x-ray analysis. She also had marked improvements on her surface electromyography scan.

Hopefully, this study will shine a light on the impact of subluxation correction on healthy immunological control. More research dollars should be spent on inexpensive, low risk, non-invasive modalities such as chiropractic care for prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions.