Can multiple sclerosis be treated by a neck adjustment?
If you have been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis - or if you have been dealing with multiple sclerosis for a long time - you likely want to know “What can I do to make sure that I stay as healthy as possible?”
You’ve likely explored the various medical options for multiple sclerosis, and if you have not found a satisfactory answer there, it has likely brought you into the realm of understanding and treating multiple sclerosis through natural methods.
If you have googled “natural multiple sclerosis specialist” or “natural multiple sclerosis treatments,” you have likely come across a wide array of possibilities:
- Diet with an emphasis on natural and organic food (per autoimmune protocols)
- Detox protocols (with special emphasis on viral infections, chemical, and metal detox)
- Lifestyle modifications including sleep, mediation, and gentle exercise
These treatments are all a necessary and important part of helping with multiple sclerosis. However, multiple sclerosis is not exclusively a chemical or metabolic condition. For many people, there is also a very important link between the health of your neck and multiple sclerosis.
You may never hear of this connection before! If so, that is what I hope to explain in this article: the relationship between the alignment of the top bones in your neck - called the atlas (C1 vertebra) and the axis (C2 vertebra) and how a unique form of healthcare known as Upper Cervical Care may be able to help if you are experiencing multiple sclerosis and want to remain as healthy as you can.
Why multiple sclerosis affects my health?
Many years ago, a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis was a hopeless situation. Even today, it is scary!
Nevertheless, there are a great many options that health science has learned about the condition that we did not know before. The result is that there are many options that can help people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis that often allow people to live normal, healthy lives.
As a brief overview (as you’ve likely already done per your internet research), multiple sclerosis is a condition diagnosed on an MRI where it is observed that there is destruction occurring to the myelin sheath around the nerves of your brain and/or spinal cord. It is not dissimilar from a frayed wire. The lack of insulation can cause the wire to “spark” or transmit faulty messages, or experience in coordination among the messages.
To use a computer analogy, the incoordination of the body’s neurological control system is the closest thing to a human "glitch” that exists.
Ultimately, health is defined as the normal function of the body, and not merely the absence of symptoms. Moreover, it is the brain and the spinal cord, which are the master command and control systems of the body. Therefore, if something affects their ability to function, it can lead to a state of incoordination, which ultimately manifests as various states of dysfunction in the body. Depending on which system is involved will manifest as different symptoms:
• If the problem affects the motor control functions of your legs, you will experience weakness.
• If the problem affects the sensory system from your hands, you will feel tingling or pain in your fingers.
• If the problem affects the autonomic system, it can affect any number of your vital organs.
Pay attention that nowhere in there did I define “healthy” as just feeling good! It is because true health is when all these systems are working as they are supposed to in a coordinated manner.
At the core of it then, multiple sclerosis represents a breakdown of this normal order.
What is the most common multiple sclerosis symptoms?
It is all over the shop! No two manifestations of multiple sclerosis are the same. The exact symptom that any person experiences depends on 100% on which part or parts of the brain are affected.
Now, the really wacky part is that it changes! It used to be believed that the brain was static: i.e., that if a neutron is damaged or dies, that it’s all over and the brain can’t repair that function. Admittedly, nerve regeneration is a very slow process. Nevertheless, it does occur.
What is more important though is the brain’s innate neuroplastic property. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s way to rewiring itself. It is the way that we learn. New connections are formed between nerve centers. It is also the way that the brain can overcome limitations if some part is injured.
Using the metaphor of Brisbane roads, let’s say that you are driving from the Brisbane CBD up to the Sunshine Coast. The normal route would be the Gateway M1, and then the Bruce Highway. Simple! However (as ALL of us know who live in North Brisbane) that if there is a severe accident, the entire highway will close, and the entire network goes into gridlock.
But does that mean it is impossible to get from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast? No! It means that you will need to take a bypass route (e.g., Gympie Road, Anzac Ave through Redcliffe, Samford/Dayboro Road, or Steve Irwin Way depending on exactly where the closure occurs.
In essence, your brain is capable of doing the same thing even with multiple sclerosis. And so symptoms that may be extremely debilitating for a period of time can actually resolve!
Now, depending on the extent of the damage, it may not be possible to get 100% normal function back, but certainly as close to 100% as possible is ideal.
Difference between multiple sclerosis and pinch nerve.
I think after describing the last section, you can now appreciate that multiple sclerosis is not just a matter of a pinched nerve in the hands or legs. Certainly, radiating pains into the arms, shoulders, hands, fingers, feet, and legs are common!
… And that’s fascinating if you think about it. Why - of the infinite possible signs or symptoms that a person with multiple sclerosis could experience - why is it that shooting pains into the hands are one of the earliest common symptoms?
Here is where I want to formally introduce to you the concept that multiple sclerosis is not always a “simple” matter of being an autoimmune condition. Indeed, there is sufficient research that indicates multiple sclerosis is some type of autoimmune condition … But WHY, oh why, would the body be attacking its own nervous system?
Things don’t happen in the body for no reason!
I would argue that IF there was something that has infected or affected the brain and spinal cord that the immune system is actually trying to “tear down the walls” to get it out. Think of it as a sleeper cell terrorist who is hiding among the civilian population. Or a mouse in the wall and your dog or cat is scratching, tearing your walls down to try to get to it. … When it comes to multiple sclerosis then, your nervous system is then the “collateral damage” of the process.
But what’s the connection with the neck?
A bit of very important neuroanatomy. You have your skull, and then you have the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis), which are the top two vertebrae in your neck. These particular vertebrae have strong ligamentous anchors onto your brainstem, which allow you to move your head without compressing or crushing your brain. They are called myodural bridges, which also facilitate the movement of cerebrospinal fluid, which provides oxygen and energy to your brain, and also drains waste products.
The drainage system goes through the internal jugular vein, and also the cerebrospinal veins, which go directly through the C1 and C2 vertebrae. Normally, the internal jugular vein is the preferred pathway. However, when you sit or stand up, the patency or “openness” of the vein closes, which means that the cerebrospinal venous system has to do all the work.
But what do you suppose would happen IF something affects the alignment of those top bones in your neck? It could potentially constrict the opening for the cerebrospinal veins, which would cause blood to pool back into the cerebrospinal fluid!
If THAT happens, the byproducts would turn he normally clean system into a cesspool of debris, which can cause irritation and inflammation of the brain structures. … Do you see where this is going? You see, an auto-immune illness does not always need to be due to an infection. It can potentially be caused by anything that causes inflammation, which “fools” the immune system into attacking an intruder that is not actually there.
Over time, then, the accumulation of this damage can manifest as that condition known as multiple sclerosis. Specifically, a special type of multiple sclerosis known as “mechanical multiple sclerosis,” which refers to the physical cause of the condition, and not just the chemical nature of it.
Now, what does this have to do with the hands?
Do you remember those myodural bridges? The anchors that connect your C1 and C2 vertebrae to your spinal cord? If these bones are misaligned, they can produce physical tension, which pulls on your spinal cord and the attached nerves. When this happens, the most common symptom is a “zinging” sensation that happens when you flex your head forwards.
It is actually a test that we learned in school called a Lherimette’s sign. Not only can it be associated with problems in the neck, but it was often used as a preliminary screening test for things like multiple sclerosis
Can chiropractic offer multiple sclerosis treatment?
So you aggravate the neck as a test for multiple sclerosis! How interesting!
It doesn’t stop there. A series of research studies have demonstrated that a history of a neck whiplash injury coupled his headache or migraine is associated with an as higher risk for multiple sclerosis later in life (often 20+ years after the original injury). The science is not conclusive, and in fact contradictory on the subject for many reasons too complicated to mention in a single article here, but one of the leading hypotheses is that multiple sclerosis often involves disruption of the normal cerebrospinal fluid mechanisms.
If so, certain authors have said that it is nor just important, but vital for people who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis to check for the alignment of the bones in the upper neck: the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2).
One paper, in particular, found dramatic improvements with people who experienced what is known as an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment where 100% of all people in the trial experienced some significant degree of benefit.
Now, you may have heard about chiropractic before, but maybe not “upper cervical chiropractic.” I’m not surprised as there are only around 12-15 upper cervical chiropractors in Australia. In fact, we are still the only upper cervical chiropractor Brisbane.
So what’s the difference between general chiropractic and an upper cervical chiropractor?
Foremost is the degree of specificity. We do not just have you lie on the table and then randomly “crack” things into place because they feel like they are sticking out. The process begins with a detailed examination that considers your posture and neurological tests that show us the extent of involvement of your upper neck with how well your body is working (again, whether or not you feel pain). We also perform detailed, 3D x-rays that allow us to see the alignment of your C1 or C2 vertebrae in ways not commonly seen in medical or even general chiropractic offices.
With this information, we are able to provide a method of care that is tailored for your individual needs, and not just “the same thing for everyone.”
Best chiropractic technique for multiple sclerosis in Hawthorne?
There are actually 7 major different styles of specific upper cervical adjusting, which include Knee Chest, Toggle Recoil, Blair, NUCCA, Atlas Orthogonal (AO), QSM3 and Orthospinology.
Now, I would never expect you to know the differences. They are subtle and technically important. Nevertheless, each of these methods belongs to the same family of approaches where we are considering the alignment of the atlas as precisely as possible: to be able to make an adjustment to the alignment of your upper neck that will take the pressure off your brainstem, allowing the fluid flow to improve from your brain to your body, and thereby allowing your nervous system to function and thus heal in a natural, more optimal manner.
With any of these methods, there is no general spinal manipulation and no twisting either. Our upper cervical chiropractor, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, has done advanced study in all these methods and holds advanced certification with the Blair technique.
With the Blair technique, there is no actual twisting or cracking at all! I repeat: NO CRACKING OR TWISTING THE NECK. The key is by being as precise as possible that we are able to use the least amount of force.
So you see, we aren’t just treating your symptoms of multiple sclerosis. We are working to allow your body to heal itself!
Our goal also is not to adjust you 100 different times. Our goal is to adjust you as little as possible for the greatest possible impact so that your own body can do the healing.
Chiropractic multiple sclerosis practitioner near me?
Atlas Health Australia is the primer upper cervical specific center in Brisbane, helping people with multiple sclerosis and a variety of neuromuscular conditions.
Our passion and mission are to help people enjoy a better quality of life by working to correct the alignment of the upper neck, allowing for the life-messages between the brain and body to flow better. Our upper cervical chiropractor is Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, who is the only advanced certified Blair chiropractor not only in Brisbane but in all Australia.
Our clinic is located in North Lakes, servicing the greater Brisbane area. We VERY MUCH wish that there was a closer upper cervical specific practice to whom we could refer our clients who regularly come 90+ minutes away from across Brisbane (West End, Hamilton, Portside, Hawthorne, Ferny Grove, Chapel Hill, Bardon, The Gap, Victoria’s Point, Samford, Dayboro, etc) … alas, we are still the closest. Locally, we regularly serve the communities of Narangba, Mango Hill, Warner, Cashmere, Sandgate, Aspley, and Albany Creek.
If you to a loved one have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis - or if you have any questions or would like an assessment, we would like to invite you to reach out to us at 07 3188 9329 or to send us an email. We would be happy to schedule a complimentary consolation to have a chat so that you can ask any specific questions, and if we believe there is anything we can do to help.
If you are outside the greater Brisbane area, please also feel free to contact us so that we may be able to direct you to the nearest upper cervical doctor near you.
As challenging as it can be living with multiple sclerosis, if there is anything we can do to help, we will do our best.
Take care of your neck and start living life again.
Alphonsus KB, Su Y, D'Arcy C. The effect of exercise, yoga, and physiotherapy on the quality of life of people with multiple sclerosis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2019 Apr;43:188-195. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.02.010. Epub 2019 Feb 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30935529
Beggs CB, Magnano C, Belov P, et al. Internal jugular vein cross-sectional area and cerebrospinal fluid pulsatility in the aqueduct of sylvius: a comparative study between healthy subjects and multiple sclerosis patients. PloS One, 2016;11(5), p.e0153960. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27135831
Correale J, Gaitán MI, Ysrraelit MC, Fiol MP. Progressive multiple sclerosis: from pathogenic mechanisms to treatment. Brain. 2017 Mar 1;140(3):527-546. doi: 10.1093/brain/aww258. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27794524
Damadian RV, Chu D. The possible role of cranio-cervical trauma and abnormal CSF hydrodynamics in the genesis of multiple sclerosis. Physiol Chem Phys Med NMR. 2011;41:1-17.
Elster EL. Eighty-one patients with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease undergoing upper cervical chiropractic care to correct vertebral subluxation: a retrospective analysis. J Vertebr Sublux Res. 2004;2:1-9.
Flanagan MF. The Downside of Upright Posture. Two Harbors Press, 2010.
Flanagan MF. The role of the craniocervical junction in craniospinal hydrodynamics and neurodegenerative conditions. Neurology Research International, 2015; Article ID 794829: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/794829.
Ishida S, Miyati T, Ohno N, et al. MRI-based assessment of acute effect of head-down tilt position on intracranial hemodynamics and hydrodynamics. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2018 Feb;47(2):565-571. doi: 10.1002/jmri.25781. Epub 2017 Jun 3.
Hannah J. The Doctors Who Give No Medicine. International Health Publishing. 2013. https://www.amazon.com/Doctors-Who-Give-No-Medicine/dp/0985795646
Rosa S, Baird JW. The craniocervical junction: observations regarding the relationship between misalignment, obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid flow, cerebellar tonsillar ectopia, and image-guided correction. Smith FW, Dworkin JS (eds): The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI. Basel, Karger, 2015, pp 48-66 (DOI:10.1159/000365470).
Sandro Mandolesi S, Marceca G, Moser J, et al. Preliminary results after upper cervical chiropractic care in patients with chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency and multiple sclerosis. Ann. Ital. Chir., 2015 86: 192-200. pii: S0003469X15023763