My first "real" patient ("real" meaning not another student!) during my internship has left lasting memories. I was in Atlanta that summer of 1991, and it was hot. Between being nervous from having the first patient ever of my new career gaze with desperation into my eyes, and the blue, polyester blend clinic jacket that covered my long-sleeve shirt and matching blue tie, the day felt even hotter! My patient was in extreme pain. My mind raced. I took deep breaths to stave off hyperventilation. Then the miracle happened. After weeks of chiropractic care, a welcomed surprise occurred in my first patient's life. The day ended with smiles. I survived. He survived... and he felt real relief!
His history revealed recent back pain and years of high blood pressure (also referred to as hypertension). This was confirmed during the examination. His back pain subsided after two weeks of receiving chiropractic adjustments. Six weeks later he found that there was a 20 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure (the maximum pressure within the arteries during the contraction of the heart). For the first time in years, his numbers were normal! This result was exciting for both of us.
What does the spine have to do with blood pressure? What does the spine have to do with any organ of the body? The answer lies within the nervous system.
24 bones make up the spinal column. Each connect by a moveable joint to the bone above and below. The top bone connects to the skull, and the bottom one connects to the tailbone. The bones are much like a stack of doughnuts. Within the hole resides the protected spinal cord. The cord extends down from the brain. Messages are transmitted to the cells of the body and back via the nerves, connected to the cord, that exit from a small hole created when two spinal bones connect. The nervous system is the master controlling and communicating system of the body. Its health is vital for overall health.
Misaligned spinal bones, called "vertebral subluxations" in chiropractic terms, often damage the exiting nerve and/or cord internally. This "short-circuited" nerve is frequently unfelt and only detected during chiropractic examination. Gentle, specific chiropractic adjustments are performed with the doctor's hands or an instrument. The result is improved nerve flow to the organs, muscles, glands and other parts of the of the body. Lost function is restored. Symptoms diminish or vanish. Overall improved health and well being are commonplace.
Chiropractic focuses on correcting imbalances and not on treating the symptoms of disease. Treat the person. Create balance. Improve health and vitality. The disease will often disappear. Not all cases respond as my first patient's. If the issue stems from nerve interference, only a chiropractic adjustment will solve the problem. Chiropractic is a logical step to consider, especially prior to starting a life-long course of blood pressure drugs.
Placebo-controlled research published in the Journal of Human Hypertension demonstrates the effectiveness of chiropractic care with people suffering from high blood pressure. Compared to the patients receiving fake adjustments, those who had a real chiropractic adjustment 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). Both groups were not taking any blood pressure medication during the eight week study.
Study leader George Bakris, M.D., director of the University of Chicago Hypertension Center stated in an interview with WebMD, "This [chiropractic] procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood-pressure medications given in combination." He further noted, "And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems."
In a weird twist of fate, my patient was lucky to have the recent episode of spinal pain. Without his backache, he may never have known how chiropractic care can improve blood pressure levels and overall health. Thanks to the University of Chicago and WebMD, the world is beginning to learn about the natural approaches offering drug-free solutions to an ailing America. Chiropractic is safe, inexpensive and enjoyable to receive! Share this article with friends and family. See a chiropractor... because high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. Like my first ever "real" patient, you may find that this gentle, non-invasive method of prevention is the best way to add years to your life.
Bakris G, Dickholtz M, Meyer PM, et al: "Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study." Journal of Human Hypertension 2007:1?6