Why does going to the chiropractor result in clearer thoughts? Why do you feel like you can stand upright without falling more easily after an adjustment? Why can you speak more clearly after having your feet massaged? I will explain why physical therapies, not just chiropractic, are essential for the MS sufferer. But I’ll also explain chiropractic’s hidden edge.
When most doctors are taught about the nervous system, they are taught in a structural manner. That is they are taught that frontal lobes of the brain do movement, parietal lobes do sensation from the body, the occipital lobes receive and process visual images. While this approach has merit it has had profound effects on the way that the nervous system has been viewed and treated.
The result of this view is that the nervous system can be viewed as functionally distinct areas. This means that many doctors believe that a problem in one area of the brain will have no impact on other areas of the brain. Modern neuroscience now knows that this is not correct.
The nervous system, from the receptors in your big toe, to the deepest areas in the brain are functionally connected. So when one area of the nervous system is effected, all areas will somehow be impacted.
The nerve cells of the nervous system, the neurons, are also somewhat unique. Neurons need activation to stay healthy. They need to be fired. As you probably know neurons carry information around the body by transmitting electrical signals. To do this they need certain components within the neuron. These components are produced in the neuron when it is fired. When the nerve cell doesn’t get fired, it isn’t stimulated to produce the cell components, and it becomes unhealthy.
Jump now to the MS sufferer. As you probably know, MS interrupts the ability of the nerve cells to carry information by damaging the myelin sheath or insulation around the nerve cells. As a consequence the signals don’t get through to the brain areas that they should. With the knowledge that we gained above, ie that nerve cells need firing, we can see that this will lead to dysfunction in the areas “downstream” of the damage. And that areas downstream of the downstream areas will in turn be affected. Eventually these areas don’t react the way that they should even when a normal signal comes through. It is kind of like someone turning down the volume on the microphone. Even if the sound coming to the microphone is the same, it will receive less information. The brain ends up dysfunctional.
The good news is that firing these affected neurons, at a rate that they can handle, can reactivate them.
The volume on the microphone can be turned back up. One of the ways that this can be done is through physical therapies like massage, mobilization and chiropractic adjustments. All of these fire what are called large diameter nerve fibers. These large diameter nerve fibers activate many areas of the brain including the cerebellum, the thalamus and the parietal lobes. These brain regions then have connections to the frontal lobes and the brain stem. So theoretically, working on someone’s body will activate most of their brain regions to a greater or lesser degree.
One of the big advantages of chiropractic adjustments is that it is thought that they may make lasting changes to the activation of the muscle receptors in the spine which continue to have affects even after the stimulation stops, unlike massage and mobilization. This means that the brain continues to receive stimulation for an extended period of time, enhancing the stimulation effect.
Now you may have noted a phrase “at a rate that they can handle” above. This means that you have to stimulate your brain cells enough to activate them, but not so much as to overload them. As a consequence, be guided by your body. Some people can handle a great deal of stimulation and benefit from it, whereas some people cannot. Therefore you may find that some physical therapies are too strong for your system. In this case, go for some of the lighter chiropractic techniques like Activator, SOT or Network. Others may benefit from firmer techniques like manual adjusting. If you can, try to see a chiropractor who is a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board, Fellow of the Australasian Academy of Functional Neurology. These chiropractors have done additional post-graduate training to assess the integrity of someone’s nervous system and can treat them accordingly.
So let me know in the comments section below. Have you tried physical therapies? Have you found it to be of benefit?
Dr Matthew D.Holmes is a Chiropractor in Greensborough, Melbourne, Australia. He is a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board and a Founding Fellow of the Australasian Academy of Functional Neurology. He primarily works with vertigo and dizziness patients, many of whom include MS sufferers. His website is Diamond Valley Brain Centre.
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