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October 2014 Health Newsletter

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» Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure
» October is National Chiropractic Health Month

» Chiropractic Care Better For Seniors
» Active Kids Think Better

Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

March 16, 2007 -- A special chiropractic adjustment can significantly lower high blood pressure, a placebo-controlled study suggests.

"This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination," study leader George Bakris, MD, tells WebMD. "And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems," adds Bakris, director of the University of Chicago hypertension center.

Eight weeks after undergoing the procedure, 25 patients with early-stage high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure than 25 similar patients who underwent a sham chiropractic adjustment. Because patients can't feel the technique, they were unable to tell which group they were in.

X-rays showed that the procedure realigned the Atlas vertebra -- the doughnut-like bone at the very top of the spine -- with the spine in the treated patients, but not in the sham-treated patients.

Compared to the sham-treated patients, those who got the real procedure saw an average 14 mm Hg greater drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure count), and an average 8 mm Hg greater drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom blood pressure number).

None of the patients took blood pressure medicine during the eight-week study.

"When the statistician brought me the data, I actually didn't believe it. It was way too good to be true," Bakris says. "The statistician said, 'I don't even believe it.' But we checked for everything, and there it was."

Bakris and colleagues report their findings in the advance online issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension.

Atlas Adjustment and Hypertension

The procedure calls for adjustment of the C-1 vertebra. It's called the Atlas vertebra because it holds up the head, just as the titan Atlas holds up the world in Greek mythology.

Marshall Dickholtz Sr., DC, of the Chiropractic Health Center, in Chicago, is the 84-year-old chiropractor who performed all the procedures in the study. He calls the Atlas vertebra "the fuse box to the body."

"At the base of the brain are two centers that control all the muscles of the body. If you pinch the base of the brain -- if the Atlas gets locked in a position as little as a half a millimeter out of line -- it doesn't cause any pain but it upsets these centers," Dickholtz tells WebMD.

The subtle adjustment is practiced by the very small subgroup of chiropractors certified in National Upper Cervical Chiropractic (NUCCA) techniques. The procedure employs precise measurements to determine a patient's Atlas vertebra alignment. If realignment is deemed necessary, the chiropractor uses his or her hands to gently manipulate the vertebra.

"We are not doctors. We are spinal engineers," Dickholtz says. "We use mathematics, geometry, and physics to learn how to slide everything back into place."

What does this have to do with high blood pressure pressure?

Bakris notes that some researchers have suggested that injury to the Atlas vertebra can affect blood flow in the arteries at the base of the skull. Dickholtz thinks the misaligned Atlas triggers release of signals that make the arteries contract. Whether the procedure actually fixes such injuries is unknown, Bakris says.

Bakris began the study after a fellow doctor told him that something strange was happening in his family practice. The doctor had been sending some of his patients to a chiropractor. Some of these patients had high blood pressure. 

Yet after seeing the chiropractor, the patients' blood pressure had normalized -- and a few of them were able to stop taking their blood pressure medications.

So Bakris, then at Rush University, designed the pilot study with 50 patients. He's now organizing a much bigger clinical trial.

"Is it going to be for everybody with high blood pressure? No," Bakris says. "We clearly need to identify those who can benefit. It is pretty clear that some kind of head or neck trauma early in life is related to this. This is really a work in progress. It is certainly in the early stages of research."

Dickholtz has been teaching, practicing, and studying the NUCCA technique for 50 years. He says high blood pressure is far from the only thing an Atlas misalignment causes.

"On the other hand, if people have high blood pressure, there is a tremendous possibility they need an Atlas adjustment," he says.



Author: Health News by Daniel J. DeNoon
Source: Rush University Hypertension Center Chicago IL
Copyright: Journal Of Human Hypertension 3

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October is National Chiropractic Health Month

During National Chiropractic Health Month (NCHM) this October, the American Chiropractic Association is working with the more than 130,000 doctors of chiropractic (DCs), chiropractic assistants (CAs) and chiropractic doctoral students nationwide to help educate the public and policymakers about the value of a "conservative care first" approach to health care. This health care model encourages emphasis on more cost-effective and safer approaches over potentially addictive medications for pain management and health enhancement. Conservative management of painful conditions may include chiropractic manipulation combined with exercise and stretching prior to moving on to procedures involving higher risk. During NCHM, chiropractors will share information with patients and their communities to empower them to become their own advocates by insisting on information about conservative treatment options. Why is "Conservative Care First" more important today than ever in facing our nation’s healthcare challenges?

  • Chiropractic physicians are the highest-rated healthcare practitioners for low-back pain treatments with their patient-centered, whole-person approach that provides greater interaction and communication for appropriate diagnosis and developing more cost-effective treatment planning.

  • Numerous recent studies have clearly shown the dangerous overreliance in the U.S. on prescription painkillers that simply mask pain. This has tremendously increased Americans’ risk for overuse, and abuse, of these drugs if taken for long periods, leading to more than 17,000 related deaths in 2010 (more than heroin and cocaine combined). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the abuse of prescription pain medications an "epidemic."
Recent evidence questions the overuse--and in some cases the effectiveness--of more invasive treatments such as spinal fusion surgery and spinal steroid injections for back pain. It is reasonable for patients to exhaust more conservative options before undergoing these costly procedures.

"People need complete information about their treatment options," said ACA President Anthony Hamm, DC. "During National Chiropractic Health Month, DCs are encouraging patients to ask questions and learn about safe, effective conservative approaches that may help them avoid riskier and more costly treatments."

Author: American Chiropractic Association.
Source: American Chiropractic Association. October 1, 2014.
Copyright: American Chiropractic Association. 2014

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Chiropractic Care Better For Seniors

New research indicates chiropractic care provides not only protective benefits but also offers increased patient satisfaction in Medicare patients with spine conditions, when compared to medical care. Published in the prestigious Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, this new study compared chiropractic to medical care in areas related to activities of daily living, self-rated health and worsening health after 1 year. According to researchers, "...chiropractic is significantly protective against 1-year decline in activities of daily living, lifting, stooping, walking, self-rated health, and worsening health after 1 year. Persons using chiropractic are more satisfied with their follow-up care and with the information provided to them."

JMPT. Vol. 37, Issue 8, Pages 542–551, October 2014.
Copyright: LLC 2014

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Active Kids Think Better

According to researchers, children who participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity not only benefit physically, they also improve their cognitive performance and brain function. Results from a new study involving 221 children aged 7 to 9 show regular participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity increases their ability to block out distractions, increase focus and improve their multi-tasking skills. U.S. and European exercise guidelines for children and teens currently call for a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. If you're a parent with a child or teen, encourage and assist them in becoming and staying physically active. Enroll them in after school programs that involve physical activity. Get them into a sports league. Join the YMCA. Take them to the park. Play in the back yard. Be safe but definitely be active!

Source: Pediatrics, online September 29, 2014.
Copyright: LLC 2014

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