A new case series suggests that chiropractic care could ease musculoskeletal pain in people with multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease that damages the central nervous system. Symptoms vary based on the individual but often included muscle weakness, stiffness, cognitive difficulties, urinary problems, blurred vision, numbness, and tingling. New symptoms often occur in “attacks” or develop slowly over time.
Many patients with MS also suffer from musculoskeletal pain which is believed to be caused by upper motor neuron lesions, muscle weakness and spasticity, decreased mobility, gait problems, and postural abnormalities. As a chronic condition, MS has no cure, but treatments can help to manage and reduce symptoms.
Research shows that chiropractic can effectively reduce musculoskeletal conditions like back, joint, and neck pain, which are frequently experienced by MS patients. Although there are no clinical trials on chiropractic for MS, between 25-54% of MS patients report using chiropractic treatments.
In a new report published in Clinical Chiropractic, researchers documented the role of chiropractic care in helping two women with MS. The first patient was a 64-year old woman with relapsing remitting MS who presented with back pain. She said it was painful to bend forward while washing floors or vacuuming, and was frustrated by her inability to garden and do other leisure activities. The woman was also being co-managed by a massage therapist, family physician, and internal medicine specialist.
The woman was treated once a week for a month with spinal adjustments of the lumbar spine and left sacroiliac joint, soft-tissue therapy, stretching and exercises, and education on proper posture and lifting techniques. Now she visits the chiropractor once a month. She reports that her pain and muscles tightness are significantly decreased and that she is able to participate in normal activities despite her MS symptoms.
The other patient was a 26-year old woman with MS who complained of mild to moderate pain in the thoracic and lumbar spine. She was treated with soft-tissue therapy, spinal adjustments, massage, interferential current, and stretching. After six weeks of treatment, she said her pain had significantly improved and was discharged from treatment. However, her pain worsened upon withdrawal of treatment. She then resumed treatment every ten days for eight weeks. After that, her back pain dropped to 1 out of 10 and her neck pain decreased to 2 out of 10. She continued receiving maintenance treatments every three weeks for another 12 weeks.
“Chiropractors are in a unique position to provide conservative care as part of a multidisciplinary team,” the researchers wrote. Relying on these conservative treatments could reduce the risks involved in taking multiple medications, and limit the number of side effects associated with medication use.
The researchers pointed out that more studies are needed to understand the mechanisms underlying chiropractic adjustments in MS. However these case studies, combined with the high utilization of chiropractic among MS patients, suggests that chiropractic could play a crucial role in the successful management of multiple sclerosis.
Southerst D, et al. Pain and pain-related disability in patients with multiple scleorosis: A case series of two patients treated with chiropractic management. Clinical Chiropractic 2012; 15: 169-175.
After hearing her parents argue about the value of organic foods, middle-school student Ria Chhabra decided to create a science fair project to settle the issue.
Now her study on the effects of organic foods on fruit flies has earned her publication in scientific journal and top honors in a national science competition, according to The New York Times.
Recent research has raised questions about whether or not organic food is healthier than conventional options. Last year, two studies showed that organic produce didn’t have more nutrients than conventional produce, although they did contain less pesticides. Even still, doctors said focusing on eating enough veggies was more important than worrying about whether those greens were organic.
Ria’s study adds a wrinkle of complexity to the organic vs. conventional food debate. Along with the help of Dr. Johannes Bauer of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Ria used fruit flies to investigate the health effects of organic and conventional foods. They discovered that flies fed organic potatoes and bananas had better stress resistance, longevity, and fertility compared to flies consuming conventional produce.
It’s still unclear why organic foods produced these differences however. They suggested that it’s possible that the flies thrived because they weren’t exposed to the pesticide and fungicide found in conventional foods. Not having the barrier of pesticides may also mean that organic plants need to develop more natural compounds to resist pests and fungi, and these compounds could create additional nutrients beneficial for animal and human health.
These hypotheses still need to be teased out in scientific studies however, and researchers still need to test whether the health benefits experienced by flies can be extrapolated to humans.
While the debate continues in scientific journals, Ria said the issue is resolved in her household. Now her parents always buy organic produce.
Chhabra R, et al. Organically grown food provides health benefits to Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE 2013; 8(1): e52988. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052988
Brand new medical research is being conducted using stem cells to treat low-back pain. Researchers are testing the safety and efficacy of harvesting and re-injecting a patient’s own bone marrow, which is rich in stem cells, into damaged spinal discs.
In a small study of 24 low-back pain patients, the procedure appeared to be safe, and none of the patients reported worsening pain after the injection.
However, the researchers involved in the study and outside experts agree that more research is needed. They still don’t know if the stem cell injections really help patients at all.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Joseph Meyer headed the research team, and he acknowledged that natural, more conservative, approaches can often help patients with persistent low-back pain.
He went on to say that the option of spinal fusion is surgery is “…a big, big step with questionable effectiveness. Often, you’re back in the same boat a year later.”
The study was a way to look at alternatives to surgery. While there may be a glimmer of hope in the results, it is important to note the small sample size and the lack of a control group to use for comparison. A back pain expert not involved in the study, Dr. Richard Deyo, said, “Even patients who have chronic pain, their symptoms tend to wax and wane and fluctuate… We have a long history of treatments that look promising when they start and turn out to be more effective than placebo interventions… It’s really too early to know if this is going to be effective or safe.”
The study’s researchers agreed. They simply hope that their preliminary work will promote a future controlled study.
For a trusted and natural approach to low-back pain treatment, patients should turn to a chiropractor before considering surgery or other extreme procedures. Countless studies have shown that chiropractic treatment is effective and safe and can relieve even chronic pain in the low-back.