Mild Spinal Dysfunction

This video explains the results of studies which show how the function of your spine impacts the way your brain works & why it is important for the elderly.

A transcript of the video follows.

Spinal Dysfunction Video Transcript

You may be wondering if spinal dysfunction really can affect your brain. So let’s look at some very interesting research that has explored exactly this. A group of New Zealand based researchers and another group in Canada have over the past 10 years done many experiments comparing brain function in people with a history of spinal dysfunction and a group with no spinal problems whatsoever.

The spinal dysfunction group was called the Subclinical Pain Group because they were not in any kind of pain on the days of the experiments, but they had a history of spinal problems. So subclinical pain refers to people who have recurring spinal dysfunction, such as mild pain, ache, or stiffness with or without a history of known drama.

There is an increasing interest in subclinical pain in the scientific literature. Because individuals who fall into this category provide an opportunity to explore how spinal dysfunction affects their brain without the complications of current pain. Because pain itself is known to alter brain function, we already know that once you are feeling pain, it changes how your brain functions.

But what the research on subclinical pain is showing us is that even just mild reoccurring spinal problems, Even on days you feel no pain can also alter how your brain functions. Let’s take a closer look at some studies that have compared these people with subclinical pain, with people who have never, ever had any spinal problems at all.

Well, this is where it gets interesting.

The brains of people with a history of spinal dysfunction are less accurately aware of where their arm is when they close their eyes. You need your brain to know accurately where your arms are all the time to be able to move without having injuries. Another study showed that the brains of people with spinal dysfunction were slower at mentally rotating objects in space compared with a healthy control group.

This suggests that your brain’s ability to mentally rotate objects is affected by the function of your spine. We need to mentally rotate objects in space all day every day, but we often don’t think about the fact that we do this. Being able to accurately perceive where you are and where your arms and legs are is very, very important.

You need to know where you are to be able to move without having accidents, and it’s also very important to be able to accurately perceive the world around you. This is a vital skill we need all day, every day. To recognize some objects, you may need to mentally rotate them. For example, to recognize the letter P versus the letter B.

If they are not upright, you would need to mentally rotate them in your mind to figure out which letter it was. We all mentally rotate shapes and objects that we see, but we do not often think about that we do it. Or how important it is for our daily life. Another study conducted in Canada recorded brainwave responses to mild electrical stimulation at the wrist before and after a 10 minute task where they had to do precise movements of their hands.

There were significant differences between the spinal dysfunction group and those who had healthy spines demonstrating again that the brains of those with mild recurring neck pain.

Even on days, they had no symptoms at all. Process sensory and movement information in a different way compared to people with totally healthy neck.

They also found that only the Healthy Neck group could remember or learn the hand movements, but the neck dysfunction group could not. So even this kind of mild neck dysfunction was changing the way the brains were able to learn movement patterns. In another study, scientists in Canada found that individuals with poorly functioning necks are not as good at processing sensory information from their different sensory organs, like their eyes and ears, compared with people with healthy necks.

Being able to accurately process multimodal sensory information becomes very important as we age. As poor multimodal processing is a risk factor for falls in the elderly. This is where chiropractic could help. Chiropractic care has been shown to improve the way older adults process sensory information together from their ears and eyes.

A study was conducted in Auckland, New Zealand with 60 older adults, half of whom received three months of chiropractic care, and the other half that did not. Those who received chiropractic care were better able to accurately perceive sound and visual information at the same time after the chiropractic care.

Adjusting dysfunctional spinal segments or what chiropractors called vertebral subluxations has also been shown to improve the brain’s ability to perceive where ARM is in space when subjects close their eyes. This was in the same group mentioned earlier who had a history of spinal dysfunction.

Chiropractic neck adjustments have also been shown to lead to faster mental rotation. Another study has shown that adjusting dysfunctional spinal segments in people with subclinical neck pain improves their brain’s ability to contract their leg muscles. It actually makes them stronger. So one thing is becoming very clear.

The function of your spine impacts the way your brain works, so why not take good care of your spine with a regular checkup with your family, chiropractor?


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© Haavik Research

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