The following research abstract is quite technical, so just skip over what you don’t understand. The point being is that this illustrates the profound effects of chiropractic care.
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Ogura T, DC, PhD et al. Cerebral Metabolic Changes in Men after Cervical Spinal Manipulation for Neck Pain. Alternative Ther Health Med 2011;17(6):12-17.
The autonomic nervous system is often involved in spinal dysfunction.
Methods: This study investigates the effects of a single cervical chiropractic spinal manipulation using an Activator for neck pain on brain regions associated with autonomic nervous system functions (limbic & paralimbic regions such as prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus, striatum, thalamus, cerebellum, & brain stem) in terms of cerebral glucose metabolic changes: glucose consumption & regional cerebral metabolism as measured by fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (PET) in 12 men (21-40 yrs, mean 28) with neck pain & shoulder stiffness. Brain PET scanning was performed twice on each Pt, at rest & after Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation with =/> 1wk in between. Outcomes also used: Stress-response scale, Quality of Life scale, VAS, muscle tone & salivary amylase.
Results: Increased glucose metabolism was observed in the inferior prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex,& middle temporal gyrus, & decreased glucose metabolism was found in the cerebellar vermis & visual association cortex after Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation (P< .001). Post-Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation questionnaires indicated lower VAS, stress level & better quality of life, as well as decreased cervical muscle tone & salivary amylase.
Discussion: Neuroimaging shows cerebellar vermis activation with pain. Painful heat & sensory cues that anticipate painful stimulation results in activation of the cerebellar vermis which is also involved with mental stress & regulation of autonomic responses in aversive conditioning. Deactivation of t cerebellar vermis after Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation may be related to pain reduction & a decrease in sympathetic tone. We suggest that deactivation of the cerebellar vermis may be preceded by decreases in sympathetic tone, muscle tone, & pain. The anterior cingulate cortex, inferior prefrontal cortex, & middle temporal gyrus were activated with Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation. The cingulate cortex is involved in the generation of autonomic responses. Relaxation tasks may elicit maximal activation of it. The cingulate cortex is also involved in cognitive & emotional processing & the attentional system including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Activation of the inferior prefrontal cortex after Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation may indicate sympathetic relaxation. Salivary amylase measures are important in psychoneuroendocrinological research on stress. Salivary amylase reflects stress-related changes in the body & is increased in subjects undergoing psychological stress. It is possible that a decrease in salivary amylase is observed in people in a relaxed condition. It is possible that a decrease in salivary amylase is observed in people in a relaxed condition. Salivary amylase after Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation was significantly lower may be related to sympathetic relaxation.
Conclusion: The results demonstrate sympathetic relaxation & regional brain metabolic changes, as well as reduced muscle tone and decreased pain intensity following Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation. The results demonstrate sympathetic relaxation & regional brain metabolic changes, as well as reduced muscle tone and decreased pain intensity following cervical Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation.
Commentary: This amazing study from Japan includes one DC, PhD and 6 MD, PhDs among the authors. Their findings document that a single Activator Spinal Manipulation applied to the cervical spine in men with neck pain and shoulder stiffness results in significant changes in glucose utilization in various regions of the brain involved with autonomic nervous system regulation. The results open the door for other sophisticated studies to investigate what may be profound benefits of spinal manipulation on the central nervous system. The findings in this study indicate that post-Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation changes in brain glucose utilization are consistent with muscle relaxation, improved sense of well-being, decrease serum amylase, and a reduction in sympathetic relaxation. These dramatic changes are the result of a single Activator SM. What are effects of a series of adjustments over a period or days, weeks, or months? What are the effects of full spine adjustments rather than a single Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation? Stay tuned. In the near future we should see more studies of this variety soon to be published.
The image below is divided into two sections: three images on the right illustrate areas of increased glucose utilization after Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation and those on the left, regions of reduced glucose activity.