Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects nearly one million people in the U.S. and can be classified as a neuro-degenerative condition along with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and ALS. Recent scientific discoveries using upright MRI have uncovered an underlying factor common to neuro-degenerative conditions (and neuro-developmental conditions). Upper cervical chiropractic has a positive track record in the care of individuals with these conditions by improving spine, spinal cord, and brain health.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is an unpredictable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. (1) MS is characterized by disseminated patches of demyelination in the brain and spinal cord. (2) Common symptoms include visual and oculomotor abnormalities, paresthesias, weakness, spasticity, urinary dysfunction, and mild cognitive symptoms. (2) There are usually multiple neurologic deficits with remissions and exacerbations gradually leading to disability. (2) Diagnosis requires clinical or MRI evidence of two or more characteristic neurologic lesions that are separated in both time and space (location in the CNS). (2) Medical treatment can include corticosteroids for acute exacerbations, immunomodulatory drugs to prevent exacerbations, and supportive measures. (2)
The process of demyelination is a loss of myelin with relative preservation of axons of a neuron or nerve cell. (3) Myelin is an electrical insulator and facilitates the conduction of neuron impulses in axons. (4) So, the loss of myelin represents neurological degeneration that drastically effects the function and efficiency of cells in the central nervous system; the master control system for the human body. Areas of demyelination are often described as plaques and usually occur with destruction of oligodendroglia, perivascular inflammation, and chemical changes in lipid and protein constituents of myelin in and around the plaques. Damage to the axon is common and neuronal cell bodies may also be damaged. (2)
MRI is the current gold-standard imaging test for MS and can exclude other disorders. (2) MS is also known to affect a wide demographic; age at onset ranges from 15-60 years of age. Most common time of onset is between 20 and 40 years of age. Women are affected somewhat more often than men. (2)
No two people with MS will experience the same symptoms or disease progression although there are several observed patterns. The relapsing-remitting pattern involves periods of worsening symptoms that alternate with remission periods when no symptoms are evident. Remission periods may last months to years. A relapse can occur spontaneously or with the onset of an acute illness such as the flu. (2)
The primary progressive pattern is characterized by a gradual progression with no remissions. There may be periods when the symptoms get no better or worse but temporarily plateau. There are no clear exacerbations in this pattern. (2)
The secondary progressive pattern begins with relapses that alternate with remissions seemingly fluctuating over smaller amounts of time. Despite the cyclical nature of this pattern, the disease continues to progress. (2)
The progressive relapsing pattern involves a gradual progression of MS that may be interrupted by sudden relapses. This is the least common pattern. (2)
How are MS and Upper Cervical Chiropractic related?
Researchers have confirmed a relationship between head/neck trauma and MS. (5-10) The most common injury of this type has been observed to be whiplash incidents associated with auto accidents. (10) But despite the association between MS and trauma, scientists have been unable to pinpoint the underlying process causing MS. The most commonly cited medical theories on MS involve immunologic factors, environmental factors, infectious factors, and genetic factors. (11) More on those later.
A very exciting discovery in recent years was made by a medical doctor and research scientist who discovered the use of MRI technology for diagnostic purposes; namely Dr. Raymond Damadian. In recent research, Dr. Damadian has begun to uncover the reason why trauma and MS are so closely related. (12) The relationship involves the blockage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); a colorless liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. (13) The function of CSF is to cushion the brain and central nervous system as well as to transport nutrients and remove waste products from the brain. (13) In Dr. Damadian's research, he noticed through the use of upright MRI that the CSF blockages were present in all patients he studied and noticeably worse in the upright position versus lying down. (12) This would explain why the phenomenon was overlooked in traditional MRI studies taken with the patient laying down. (12) The particular blockages are believed to be responsible for leakage of CSF from the ventricles into the surrounding brain parenchyma. These "leakages" can be the source of the MS lesions in the brain that give rise to MS symptomatology. (12)
Dr. Damadian went on to team up with Dr. Scott Rosa to provide treatment to correct the blockages seen to cause CSF obstruction on MRI studies in MS patients. Dr. Rosa's treatment is known as an "image-guided atlas treatment" which is a form of upper cervical specific chiropractic using Atlas-Orthogonal protocols. Testimonials attest to the effectiveness of the upper cervical corrective technique in helping some patients with MS:
"Please consider Dr. Raymond Damadian and Dr. Scott Rosa for next year's award. They are using FONAR's Upright MRI and the Image Guided Atlas Treatment to cure Multiple Sclerosis. I am one of their patients and I was able to stop taking Rebif in 2012, have not had a flare since and have more energy, stamina and neurological function than I did as a kid. I am 41 years old now. These doctors gave me back my life without surgery or drugs." (14)
More can be found on the FONAR website; FONAR is a developer of MRI technology working with Dr. Damadian:
"I received many notable improvements from these doctors including getting my eyesight back immediately, having the feeling in my fingers come back in a couple of weeks and after a year, getting the feeling back in my abdomen. I haven't had a bladder infection in over four years. I can now feel the urgency to urinate which had been gone over a dozen years...and their help didn't include drugs. Again, this is notable because I had been SPMS for nine years when I was treated by these doctors." (15)
This is not the first time a form of upper cervical care has been seen to help patients with MS. Dr. Erin Elster authored a study about the symptomatic improvements in 91% of MS cases in her private practice. (16)
Mandolesi et al. reports finding similar anatomical changes in the upper cervical region consistent with the CSF obstruction mentioned by Damadian. (17) In addition, they found venous compression alongside misalignment of the atlas vertebra that can explain the presence of other conditions in these same patients with MS who improved under upper cervical care. (17)
Brown et al. describe care of a female patient with MS who reported 70% improvement in fatigue as well as 90% percent improvement in all other symptoms including numbness, balance, and neck pain. (18)
McLaughlin et al. describe a similar case with reported drastic improvements in driving ability, allergies, cold hands/feet, vertigo, blurry vision, tinnitus, fatigue, neck pain, and upper back pain. (19)
Thornhill describes improvement in a 28-year old female measured using the Neck Disability Index, the Quadruple Visual Analog Scale, and the Headache Disability Index after a period of short-term care. (20)
It is evident that upper cervical care has and will continue to help people with MS. Research efforts documenting etiological factors and responses of MS patients under spinal care are available from numerous peer-reviewed sources. It is likely that the medical establishment will continue to overlook the scientific basis of upper cervical care. Despite this fact, there are still conscientious individuals such as Dr. Damadian who have realized the detrimental impact of spine damage and has been willing to stand for the truth. Not only has he done this, but he has contributed the most valuable research to date in understanding what is happening in people with neuro-degenerative conditions including but not limited to Autism, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Why does Upper Cervical Care benefit MS?
As mentioned earlier; immunologic factors, environmental factors, infectious factors, and genetic factors all have been observed to play some role in some cases of MS. (11) We know for sure that MS is a diagnosis involving the central nervous system and has a close relationship with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) dynamics.
Upper cervical care is the objective identification and correction of misalignments of the upper neck where the spine meets the skull. These misalignments are spinal injuries caused by trauma throughout life. In chiropractic, this is called "vertebral subluxation" but for lay purposes we are just referring to the phenomenon as a misalignment of the atlas vertebra. Correction of atlas misalignment has been shown to promote spinal alignment and neurological health. In comparison to conventional chiropractic methods, upper cervical techniques require much more precision and do not use traditional manipulative methods many describe as "cracking, popping, etc." Upper cervical care is extremely safe.
Realignment of the atlas has the potential to restore the normal fluid dynamics of CSF in the spinal canal and cranial vault. Restoration of the CSF flow would prevent the "overflow" of fluid noted as "lesions" on diagnostic studies of MS patients. Restoration of CSF flow would also increase nutrient supply and decrease toxin build-up directly related to the brain and spinal cord. In time, the nervous system can improve function and stabilize as long as atlas alignment remains normal. As far as all other factors (immunologic, environmental, infection, and genetics), the central nervous system is the moderator of all other systems in the body. If the CNS is working properly, the body will reproduce normal health. This goes for immune function and the body's resistance to infectious disease. It applies to environmental factors by allowing the body greater adaptability to stress and change. It applies to genetic factors which may be much less likely expressed because of healthy nerve communication in the body.
This is by no means an exhaustive report of upper cervical care and the pathogenesis of MS. Much more research is needed to expand the current horizon for the sake of sick and suffering humanity. Nearly one million people in the United States are suffering with this condition. If you know someone affected by MS, there is a healthcare discipline known as Upper Cervical Care that can help reduce symptoms and preserve if not improve quality of life. I hope you will be so bold as to spread the word.
Renfrow Chiropractic Center, PC is your source for health restoration through the upper cervical care procedure. Upper cervical chiropractic care is a scientific approach to optimizing health by restoring balance to the nervous system. This procedure allows our clients more freedom by helping them naturally heal and function better.
Our office serves the north Grand Strand region of Horry County, SC including: Little River, North Myrtle Beach, Longs, Cherry Grove Beach, and Loris. We are also convenient to Brunswick County, NC including: Carolina Shores, Calabash, Grissettown, Sunset Beach, and Ash.
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We are taking the following precautionary measures in our office to ensure our office is an Oasis of Health:
We are open our normal business hours
No more Patient Clip Boards or Signing-In for the next few weeks to minimize cross-contamination (ie people touching less stuff in our office)
Chiropractic Tables Are Cleaned Between Each Patient
Children's toys have been removed from family room
Bathrooms are cleaned 2x/day
Surfaces in the office that are commonly touched areas are cleaned multiple times per hour (door handles, chairs, sink knobs, etc)
Patients that are sick are requested to stay home
Patients who are well are encouraged to make their appointments... chiropractic adjustments decrease stress on your body and increase immune system function
Staff that is Sick will not be allowed in the office