Normalizing blood pressure could be a benefit of chiropractic neck adjustments, suggests several studies.
A 2008 study University of Chicago study was published in the Journal of Human Hypertension. The double-blind study focused on 50 patients, 25 of which received a simulated adjustment. The other half, who received true chiropractic treatment, saw an average blood pressure drop of 17 points.
Another study, conducted by Dr. Scott Torns, had 20 subjects with misalignments or subluxations determined by x-rays. Once again, a placebo group received a mimicked chiropractic adjustment. This group saw no significant differences, while those who had been adjusted showed significant lowering of systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Chiropractor Dr. Ryan Dopps explains the biomechanics of how chiropractic can help normalize blood pressure. “The centers for cardiac function are located deep within the brain stem. Surrounding that is a protective mechanism, the first bone of the neck called the Atlas or C1 vertebra. It is the joint that connects the spine to the skull. It can move front to back, left to right, up and down and it can rotate.”
The ring-shaped Atlas is named after the titan in Greek Mythology who held up the world. When it is misaligned, the Atlas puts pressure on the brain stem, which houses the centers for cardiac, respiratory, vasomotor, nausea and vomiting. That inhibits the flow of information to the organs and affects how the tissue functions.
What Dr. Dopps sees clinically supports these studies’ findings. One of his patients has been to the Mayo Clinic for blood pressure issues that were not controlled by medications. “As we’ve delivered the specific adjustment to her Atlas, she has seen her blood pressure drop 70 points on her systolic pressure, which is massive.”
“Every adjustment that we do is specific to the needs of the person,” said Dr. Dopps. “There are 77 trillion nerve fibers that pass through the Atlas, so any millimeter of change will effect different tissues in different ways. Each Atlas is adjusted specifically to what the x-rays show.”
Another diagnostic tool Dopps uses to objectively quantify Atlas misalignment from visit to visit, is body surface thermometry. He takes a simple temperature reading on both sides of the neck, called an Atlas Fossa reading, both before and after adjusting. One side of the neck may be hotter than the other if the Atlas is misaligned and can be very close to normalized within seconds of the adjustment.