chiropractic and stress
How Big of a Role Does Stress Play in Your Overall Level of Health?
Chiropractic understands how stress, whether it be physical, chemical or emotional in nature, affects the body’s ability to properly function and why it leads to poor health from the affects of subluxation. More and more research keeps piling up to support this concept, but the short and long-term effects of stress and subluxation are hardly ever addressed by the modern medical system. The medical community will not accept the theory that there is one cause for all disease (i.e. stress and subluxation). This is contrary to every major medical premise. Yet, this is exactly what was summarized in 1964 when Hans Selye, M.D. was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine!
In the 1950’s, Dr. Selye studied the effect of stress on the human body and presented his work to the world in the concept of the “General Adaptation Syndrome,” for which he won the 1964 Nobel Prize. This was a revolutionary concept of mental and physical illness and it was, at the time, acclaimed as the most important and far-reaching idea in the history of medicine…that STRESS is the cause of all disease.
In his book, “The Stress of Life,” Selye described how, as a medical student, he first noticed the early signs of many illnesses were identical—loss of energy and appetite, generalized aches and pains, and so on. He wondered why these vague symptoms were taken for granted by his instructors. Years of research gradually led him to realize these commonly related symptoms were actually part of a pattern, the arousing of the body’s resistance to a stress-causing agent. It did not matter whether the stressor came from a mechanical, chemical, nutritional, biological, or even emotional source. The body always reacted in an identical manner.
According to Selye, the body produces an alarm reaction to any form of stress that threatens its well-being. Unless the stress is unusually strong, we are not even aware of the body’s response. This initial alarm reaction is followed by a period of adaptation to the stress, or compensation, if the stress continues unabated. This process will continue until the body’s vital energy is exhausted and symptoms become apparent. It is at this point that the patient usually seeks help but usually from an over-the-counter remedy at the pharmacy, not in a doctor’s office. If the symptoms continue and the body’s ability to maintain normal function becomes more exhausted, professional help must be sought. For most problems, the process is a slow and gradual slide into a disease that can be measured and eventually named. The diseased person then becomes, we are told, the exclusive property of medical and insurance communities.
I do not have a problem with disease and degeneration under the medical umbrella. That is what medical professionals are trained to deal with. I do have difficulty with the concept of their ability to recognize disease before a pathological process can be identified. The truth is, the patient must be diseased (quantified and qualified) before medicine can hope to be effective. Otherwise, it is just guesswork. Chiropractic can be applied to anyone to improve the overall health of the individual, regardless if symptoms are present or not. In this respect, chiropractic is a universal health care option, whereas medicine is limited to treating disease rather than restoring health. There is a HUGE difference.
Every diseased patient has already gone through the periods of stress, alarm, reaction, adaptation/ compensation, and exhaustion BEFORE the disease was named and specific therapy begun. During this period of time, whether a specific disease has been identified or not – a chiropractor using a careful case history and examination can identify the stress, assist in its removal, and correct the most damaging effect on the body’s normal function – the subluxation. In this way, disease can be prevented and an enormous service rendered to humanity, through a service no medicine is able to provide – the adjustment.
Dr. Selye’s book says, “Apparently, disease is not just suffering, but a fight to maintain the homeostatic balance of our tissues, despite damage. Could all of this vagueness be translated into the precise terms of modern medical science? Could it point a way to explore whether or not there is some non-specific defense system built into our body, a mechanism to fight any kind of disease?”
Chiropractic deals with this inborn defense system, and complements the body’s inherent ability to heal itself when there is no interference to the function of the nervous system.
Duke University Releases Headache Evidence Report
Substantial Evidence Shows Efficacy of Chiropractic for Tension and Cervicogenic Headaches
In 1996, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) was scheduled to produce a set of clinical practice guidelines on available treatment alternatives for headaches. Previously, the agency utilized the same historic clinical guidelines for Acute Low Back Problems in Adults, released late in December 1994. This headache project was based on the systematic evaluation of the literature by a multidisciplinary panel of experts. Due to largely political circumstances, however, their efforts never came to fruition. The work was never released as guidelines, but was instead transformed with modifications and budget cuts into a set of evidence reports on only migraine headaches by the staff at the Center for Clinical Health Policy Research at Duke University.
The Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (FCER) is proud to announce that with its efforts and funding from the National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Company (NCMIC), evidence reports have now been updated on both cervicogenic and tension-type headaches. This new report, Evidence Report: Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension-type and Cervicogenic Headache, essentially updates and releases much of the information on treatment alternatives for tension and cervicogenic headaches that had been suppressed earlier.
Among the many treatment alternatives supported by evidence, chiropractic is buoyed by substantial evidence as to its efficacy in the management of both tension-type and cervicogenic headaches:
Compared to amitriptyline use, chiropractic is shown to produce slightly lesser effects during the treatment period, but markedly superior results afterward in the treatment of a tension-type headache. Compared to various soft tissue procedures, a course of chiropractic treatments is shown to produce sustained improvement in headache frequency and severity in the treatment of cervicogenic headache. Compared to various soft tissue procedures, there was evidence to indicate that a course of chiropractic treatments produced further improvement in headache frequency and severity in the treatment of an episodic tension-type headache.
This particular study’s findings have important implications in choosing alternatives in procedures for managing different types of headaches. This new undertaking mandated the staff at the Duke Center to screen citations from the literature, abstract the data into evidence tables, analyze the quality and magnitude of results from these studies, and draft an evidence report with peer review from a panel of 25 reviewers, including researchers and clinicians in chiropractic.
Starting with over 2,500 citations from such online sources as MEDLINE, MANTIS, CRAC, CINAHL, PsychoINFO, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, and additional articles obtained by referral, the panel obtained bibliographies of both physical and behavioral options for treating headache that were prospective, controlled trials aimed at either relief from or prevention of attacks of tension-type or cervicogenic headache.
Among the physical interventions reviewed in this report:
cervical spinal manipulation
low-force techniques such as cranial sacral therapy
massage (including trigger point releases)
transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
exercise (including postural exercises)
Among the behavioural interventions reviewed are:
cognitive-behavioral (stress management) therapy
This report clearly positions Chiropractic as the most viable treatment and notes Chiropractic does not have the detrimental and sometimes fatal side effects of conventional treatment options for managing tension and cervicogenic headaches. Compared to other physical treatment methods, (including physiotherapy, acupuncture, and electrical stimulation), the evidence overwhelmingly supports Chiropractic as having the most statistically significant benefits.