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NUCCA

A Piece of the Health Care Puzzle

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A Piece of the Health Care Puzzle

What originally drew me into chiropractic was knowing that I would be able to help many people. Particularly, the people who had been written off by other industries. I remember very distinctly when I started school that I couldn't wait for my first miracle case as a practicing doctor. 

Everyday people defy odds. Their stories of perseverance and willingness to take charge of their health inspire others to do the same. These individuals go on living despite the 6 months to go prognosis and not only do they go on living but they typically find a renewed purpose and end up doing amazing things with their life. I guess that's what happens once you know what it is like to operate with no guarantee for tomorrow.  

A nice perk to being a chiropractor is that we get to see this rare type of person on a routine basis. A not-so-nice anti-perk to being a chiropractor is knowing how many potential "rare" people are suffering because they don't know you exist to help them. 

Once I graduated and began actual patient care I'd sporadically get to help someone with multiple sclerosis, trigeminal neuralgia, Parkinson's, Meniere's Disease or epilepsy. And they'd get better. Inevitably, I'd get all amped up and go running to the neurologists in the area to tell them about my theories as to why I thought these kids were getting better after having uncontrollable seizures. 

40% of those with epilepsy have uncontrolled seizures even with prescription meds and often dangerous and debilitating surgery is the next step. Even knowing the statistics, not one referral ever came from any of the neurologists. 

The patients I'd see with neurological disorders were the ones who performed their own research and came to see us. Or they were a friend of a friend of someone we had helped. 

Once I adjusted a kid who had nocturnal enuresis (bed-wetting). He was almost a teenager and when he came to see us he had back pain. The parents never even told us he wet the bed (which by the way is typically a neurological condition that can be helped without drugging your child and should get no ridicule from anyone about the issue). Anyways, they came from over an hour and a half away and did so quite consistently until we got his structure stabilized. One day the mom pulls me out into the hallway to ask if this could help with bed wetting. As a result of one kid's back pain, our office has almost single-handedly wiped out nocturnal enuresis for an entire Midwestern farming community as the referrals came flooding in with children who wet the bed. 

Where was the excitement out of the foundations and support groups for epilepsy & MS? Why do none of the websites have upper cervical care listed as a possible "alternative treatment"? Why are people told that drastic surgical procedures are their only hope when medication fails? 

About two days ago during a new patient consultation a lady says to me,

"my doctor warned me not to see you because you aren't a real doctor."

There are a host of reasons as to why this type of rhetoric is so prevalent and I will discuss these in detail in our upcoming podcasts and blog posts. None the less, I was impressed that I didn't get pissed-off by taking it personally. I think I laughed in earnest.  It was either that or get incredibly sad knowing enough people with power & influence still agree with her "real" doctor, not to my detriment- but to the people out there with neurological disorders. Especially to the people who aren't responding to one industry's treatment and therefore told there is no hope. 

I am by no means saying we have all the answers. On the contrary, I am willing to admit we do not (unlike some). But here is what I do know- The human body has far more potential to heal when it has a spine that allows for unimpeded nerve, blood, lymphatic and spinal fluid flow. The quicker people realize this the better chance they have to heal if they are unwell. 

By treating only the misaligned spine we often see some incredible results.  We also add in a little "real" doctoring where we spend time getting to know our patients and help them in other areas that could be holding them back from achieving their full potential. 

If you're reading this and you're one of the people with little to no hope and you haven't explored the treatment of subluxation, then I would highly recommend it. Know that the goal is not simply to get rid of 'XYZ' disease, but to get truly healthy and that requires more than the effort of any one doctor. It requires your commitment to improving all areas of your well-being, including the spine that houses your central nervous system, a rather large and enigmatic missing piece of the health care puzzle.

-In Health, 

Dr. Andrew R. Burns 

 

 

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Textbook Altering Link Between Immune System & Brain

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Textbook Altering Link Between Immune System & Brain

Prior to 2015 the medical community had zero workable knowledge of lymphatic drainage from the central nervous system. In theory, it was thought to exist and function in some capacity but no physical structure was ever found. In the words of one of the researchers from the University of Virginia who was a part of this amazing discovery, Dr. Jonathan Kipnis stated,

“I really did not believe there are structures in the body that we are not aware of. I thought the body was mapped…and that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.”

The structures the researchers had discovered are tiny vessels that reside in the meninges. These structures line the dural sinuses and transport immune cells to and from the central nervous system. The full text for the study can be found following this link.

This discovery should have profound effects on how neurological conditions are treated, particularly those characterized by a neuro-inflammatory response. Whether it is the build-up of proteins in the brain with conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease (amyloid plaques) or Huntington’s Disease (huntingtin protein), or the waxing and waning response of multiple sclerosis, the mechanistic relationship adjoining the brain and immune system cannot be ignored.

As upper cervical chiropractors, we have a responsibility to our patients to make sure we are optimizing the bony structure that surrounds the brainstem. One study performed by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association found that secondary venous drainage from the skull was reduced in people suffering from migraine headaches and subsequently relieved symptomatically through the NUCCA correction process but also there was a greater percentage of venous blood flow from the skull post adjustment.

Another study that is currently still in the works is finding a plethora of evidence involving a stagnation of the cerebral spinal fluid and its inability to properly circulate around the brain and spinal cord due to a herniation of the cerebellum through the hole in the bottom of the skull that transmits the brainstem. (This often misdiagnosed as most MRI units view the structures in non-weight baring positions.) This has the effect of placing a cork in the opening of a bottle. Pressure can then build up inside the cranium and around the meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord. When restoration of the bony structure occurs through a specific correction to the misalignments between the skull and the top two vertebrae, the fluid can then begin circulating in a more normal pattern. When this occurs long term, neural tissue has displayed a remarkable ability to heal.

If venous drainage and cerebral spinal fluid can be altered to the extent that it causes disease based on the misalignment of spinal bones, it stands to reason that the same can be said of the proteins that build up in the brain with certain conditions. By restoring normal spinal biomechanics along with dietary changes to reduce systemic inflammation, a conservative approach to some of these conditions could drastically alter the outcome for many people suffering from neurological conditions. For those already under long term management for such conditions, co-managing with upper cervical providers could prove to be an essential missing piece of the puzzle in the patient’s journey back to health.

-In Health,

Dr. Andrew R. Burns

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Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has long been thought to be an incurable disease of an autoimmune nature that directly affects the central nervous system (CNS). Another school of thought is that it is caused by a viral infection that simply lies dormant for a time and then attacks the CNS. I personally believe that new information coming out of the upper cervical chiropractic research world regarding a longitudinal study will soon change that way of thinking entirely, but until then, here’s what you need to know about MS.

MS is a disease of the central nervous system that affects the way information is passed along throughout the brain and spinal cord that collectively comprise the CNS. This system is made up by individual cells called neurons. These cells are then wrapped by an insulating layer called the myelin sheath. This layer not only separates the neurons from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), but it also allows for rapid transmission of electrical signals (the method by which these cells communicate information).

The cerebrospinal fluid has two very important functions: 1.It supplies a nice medium to suspend the brain providing protection. 2. It helps remove metabolic wastes while delivering nutrients and energy to the brain.

The CSF has seen resurgence in the world of research due particularly to the advances in neuroimaging with the insinuation that it maybe vastly more important than once believed. Chiropractors have long believed that the CSF was pumped much like blood. With functional and upright MRI, we now know our assumptions were in fact correct.

Numerous ailments can occur when the flow of the CSF becomes altered. In my opinion, this is the beginning of the pathological process creating scar tissue as the CSF begins to damage surrounding neurons. When an individual has multiple areas of plaques (scarring) within their CNS they meet the criteria to receive the official diagnoses of MS (literally translated, multiple scars).

The Upper Cervical Difference

When an injury occurs, whether subtle or traumatic, distortions from normal anatomical positions can be observed. When this occurs in the cervical spine, a number of issues can arise, but for the purpose of this article, we'll be discussing some of the changes seen with MS.

First, the bones in the neck begin to straighten out and the normal secondary curvature is lost. Tiny ligaments called the dentate ligaments are attached to the spinal vertebrae and anchor the protective layer surrounding the brain and spinal cord called dura mater (meninges). Because the dura mater is one continuous membrane from the skull down through the spine, when the bones misalign and the normal curvature of the neck is lost, these ligaments place traction on the spinal cord and tug the brain downward.

At the bottom of your brain sits the cerebellum. At the bottom of the cerebellum sit the tonsils of the cerebellum. As the brain is pulled downward, the cerebellar tonsils herniate through the foramen magnum (the hole in the bottom of the skull where the brain stem exits, literally translated “big hole”). This acts like a cork in a bottle, damming up the flow of the CSF.

The CSF continues to pulsate though now it has nowhere to go but inwards toward the brain, or outwards toward the skull. This is how the plaques are formed. The CSF continually bangs into the neurons causing damage. Think of it like a callus being rubbed on the skin of your hand. Whenever damage occurs to cells an inflammatory response is sure to follow and this is how MS patient's end up with the demyelination of neurons. This is also characteristic of a few types of neurodegenerative disorders, but particularly MS.

It is the upper cervical chiropractor’s job to realign these bones and allow the normal curvature to be restored in the neck. This allows the traction to be taken off of the spinal cord and brain, effectively uncorking the cerebellar tonsils and restoring the proper flow of the CSF, which, in turn, halts the progression of the plaques and in some instances, allows the neural tissue to heal.

This is not a new phenomenon. There are 20 cases that were documented over a 5 year span at the BJ Palmer Clinic in Iowa during the 1940’s and 50’s. [Killinger LZ, Azad A. Multiple Sclerosis Patients Under Chiropractic Care; A Retrospective Study, Palmer J Res, 1997;2(4):96-100]

Another 81 cases were analyzed in a retrospective study featuring both MS and Parkinson's Disease patients. 40 of the 44 with MS and 34 of the 37 with Parkinson's showed symptomatic improvement with no further progression of the disease while under care. Full text found here: http://www.chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Eighty-One_Patients_With_MS.shtml

One study followed a particular lady who was diagnosed with chronic progressive MS at 47 years of age, 3 years following the diagnosis of MS. All MS symptoms were gone following 4 months of upper cervical chiropractic care and an MRI showed all plaques had stopped progressing, while some began to heal. This case study can be found here [Elster EL. Upper Cervical Chiropractic Management of a Multiple Sclerosis Patient: A Case Report. J Vertebral Subluxation Res, 2001; 4(2):22-30].

There are many more studies out there and I am confident many more to come! If someone you know has been diagnosed with MS, please take the time to share with them this article.

In Health,

Dr. Andrew R. Burns

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Meniere's Disease

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Meniere's Disease

Each year thousands of people are affected by a condition known as Meniere’s disease. This is considered an idiopathic condition, meaning modern science does not know what causes this to occur, though several hypotheses exist. The disease is characterized by tinnitus (ringing in the ear), hearing loss, and episodes of severe vertigo (often accompanied by nausea and vomiting).

Upper cervical chiropractors have been helping people with Meniere’s for quite some time. One doctor in Michigan estimates that roughly 90% of all cases respond favorably to this type of care.

In our office, through the use of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) system of analysis, we have witnessed firsthand many individuals make a full recovery.

Medical doctors will typically treat this condition with some type of anti-nausea medication, steroid injections, and possibly diuretics to help lower the level of fluids retained by the body. Other methods of treatment include hearing aids, devices for ear pressure regulation, rehab and surgery.

Upper cervical chiropractors will take a much different approach, focusing on how the skull, along with the first and second vertebrae are aligned in relation to your neural canal (spinal cord). If a misalignment is present, we would perform a highly specific, painless adjustment, using about the same amount of pressure/force someone would use while taking a pulse.

When an individual begins care in our office with Meniere’s disease, there a few things they can typically expect to occur. The symptoms usually get worse before they get better. This can be a scary experience, especially if the vertigo leaves them unable to perform normal daily activities. Tinnitus levels become altered. Some have reported that the ringing becomes more of a reverberating sensation. In most cases, this would only last a few days, though for some it may take several weeks.

Though we cannot say for certain why many individuals with Meniere’s disease recover while undergoing upper cervical chiropractic care, what we can say is that often times they do. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with this disease, we highly encourage you to take a look into finding an upper cervical chiropractor in your area. A good place to begin your search would be at http://www.upcspine.com/.

In Health,

Dr. Andrew R. Burns

 

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