Forget Bone Out of Place Pinching a Nerve: In Animal Models Muscle Activity Near Fixed Joints Improves with Specific Chiropractic
Patients & Friends,
Specific chiropractic adjustments improve muscle activity near tight and fixed spine segments, according to research published by scientists at the Center for Chiropractic Research at Palmer Chiropractic University.
In a paper appearing in the current issue of the orthopedic journal Spine, William Reed and Joel G. Pickar used animal models and found that when joints are fixed using back surgery, back muscle activity decreases. Adjustments close to the fixed joints helped muscle activity improve a little, but adjustments applied to the spine at the level of surgery best helped improve the muscles.
The findings support other research they have done on cats that did not include back surgery to fix or “stiffen” their spines. In those studies on deeper back muscles, adjustments also helped even when they were “off target.” However, adjustments applied to the spine at the level being monitored had the greatest improvements in deep muscle activity.
Dr. Pickar, who holds doctoral degrees in both chiropractic and anatomy, has recently retired and is now a professor emeritus from Palmer. I am grateful that he collaborated with me in developing two chapters for the 4th edition of my textbook, The Chiropractic Theories. In the book we explain that back problems are not as simple as a “bone out of place, pinching a nerve,” as chiropractors had previously held.
Modern theory suggests that back problems occur when poor postures, inactivity, and inflammation associated with injury reduce muscle activity and can create a vicious cycle that may lead to even more inflammation and even degenerative arthritis.
Theory is only important because it may lead us in how we act as chiropractors and as patients. For example, if back problems are as simple as bone out of place and nothing else, then all patients need is chiropractic adjustments.
On the other hand, if inflammation and decreased muscle activity is a better theory, effective treatment should also include: stretching tight muscles, strengthening weak muscles, use of ice, temporary use of anti-inflammatory medications, and lifestyle changes like postural improvement, increased activity, and dietary changes to reduce inflammation. A more wholistic approach may achieve better and longer lasting results.
Robert A. Leach, DC, MS, FICC(h), CHES
Publishing in the April 2015 issue of Spine, chiropractic scientists using cat spine research found that both laminectomy (a common back surgery in humans) and screw fixation (another type of back surgery used in humans that locks bones together) triggered decreases in back muscle activity compared with normal spines. Adjustments applied to nearby segments improved muscle spindle activity, while adjustments applied to the fixed segment best improved muscle activity, suggesting that chiropractic may help fixed and stiff joints in humans, by increasing activity of nearby spinal muscles: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25856263
Chiropractic scientists at the Palmer Chiropractic University Center for Chiropractic Research using an animal model, determined that there was a significantly greater multifidus and longissimus muscle spindle discharge at the site of an adjustment, compared with an adjacent site below the contact. This offers experimental evidence in animals, that specific chiropractic contact at the problem area may improve clinical outcomes in humans: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25841562
Joel G. Pickar collaborated with me in writing two chapters of the fourth edition of my textbook, The Chiropractic Theories: A Textbook of Scientific Research (2004): http://www.lww.com/product/?978-0-683-30747-4