Why Chiropractic Care Reduces Blood Pressure

The Chiro.Org Blog

Several news stories reported on a study performed at the University of Leeds in England, and published in the August 1, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience [1], that showed links between neck muscles and the brain and that this link plays a crucial role in controlling blood pressure.

One report by UPI on August 2, 2007 starts off by stating:

A University of Leeds chance discovery in a British laboratory shows why a chiropractic adjustment for a pain in the neck may do wonders for blood pressure.

This article quotes study leader Professor Jim Deuchars, who notes that his finding found pathways between the neck and the brain and shows how the neck muscles could play an important role in controlling blood pressure, and why chiropractic care works so well with blood pressure.

He states, “By identifying the pathways we can see why these treatments might work and it could also explain why some people suffering whiplash injuries may experience a change in their blood pressure.”

As he mentions in the article, Professor Deuchars notes that the Leeds study further corroborates the work done at the Hypertension Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center and published in the March 2, 2007 issue of the Journal of Human Hypertension. In that previous study 25 people in the study group receiving the chiropractic adjustments all showed a significant reduction in blood pressure compared with groups in the study that did not get chiropractic adjustments.

You may also enjoy this WebMD review titled
Chiropractic Cuts Blood Pressure

and another ABC News article, titled:
Could a Neck Adjustment Lower Your Blood Pressure?.

Here’s additional commentary from:
a video from ABC News.

These are just a few of the articles from the:
Chiropractic and Blood Pressure Page

Please NOTE that the announcer’s statement that “very few chiropractors are trained in this technique is NOT accurate.

Dr. Dickholtz practices only one of the numerous specific “upper cervical” (UC) techniques (called NUCCA), but in fact there is no proof that any one of the UC techniques is superior to any other. It is probable that more than 50% of DCs in this country are trained in at least one Upper Cervical Specific technique, and could get results similar to those reported in the chiropractic literature over the last 50 years.

The Research Department at Palmer College of Chiropractic is currently managing the first clinical trial that will compare 3 different upper cervical techniques. This is fortunate because Palmer is one of the few chiropractic colleges to teach a variety of UC techniques within it’s curricula.

The Abstract: [1]

The Neurochemically Diverse Intermedius Nucleus of the Medulla as a Source of Excitatory and Inhibitory Synaptic Input to the Nucleus Tractus Solitarii
J Neurosci 2007 (Aug 1); 27 (31): 8324-8333 ~ FULL TEXT

Activation of neck muscle spindle afferents via neck flexion can initiate an increase in heart rate, muscle sympathetic nerve activity, and arterial blood pressure (Kuwagata et al., 1991; Shortt and Ray, 1997). This reflex sympatho-excitation has been attributed to the activation of the otolith organs in the vestibular system (Yates and Miller, 1994); however, it is likely that there is another component to the reflex because it is still evident where the vestibular system is inactive, such as in brain-dead patients (Kuwagata et al., 1991).

This component has been suggested to arise from the dorsal neck musculature, with stimulation of nerves arising from these muscles causing a reflex increase in splanchnic, hypoglossal, and abdominal nerve activity (Bolton et al., 1998). Furthermore, the stimulus intensities used were consistent with those that would activate muscle spindle and Golgi tendon organ afferents.

Because this cervico-sympathetic reflex appears to originate from muscle spindles in the dorsal neck musculature, it is very likely that the suboccipital muscle group is involved in the reflex because these muscles have an extremely high muscle spindle content (Richmond and Abrahams, 1975; Kulkarni et al., 2001). Additional evidence for the involvement of the suboccipital muscle group in the cervico-sympathetic reflex comes from changes in blood pressure associated with chiropractic manipulations of the C1 vertebrae (McKnight and DeBoer, 1988; Knutson, 2001), which would result in altering the length of fibers in the suboccipital muscle group.

The projection from the InM to the NTS identified in this study therefore places it in an ideal position to mediate cardiorespiratory changes to neck muscle afferent stimulation, because the NTS is a major integratory area for autonomic control circuits (Potts, 2002). Future studies are therefore required to examine the role of these neck afferents in cardiorespiratory regulation.