Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the bodies brain and spinal cord, also known as the central nervous system (CNS). Many people are unaware, however, that upper cervical (neck) chiropractic adjustments can help with the symptoms and progression of said condition. To understand how this is done, it is important to understand the theories behind the causes and mechanisms of the disease.
MS is classified as an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body’s immune system begins to attack itself. The target of these attacks is the protective covering that encapsulates nerve fibers. When this covering is damaged, we begin to see disruptions in nerve function, delaying and interrupting the signals that nerves are trying to relay to various parts of the body. This can result in many different symptoms such as numbness and tingling, electrical shock sensations, vision issues and overall lack of body coordination1. Although the cause is still unknown, there are several different theories and factors being considered that could play a significant roll in the onset and progression of this disease.
Genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors all play a role in the degeneration of nerves, but a major contributing factor is how the bodies cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows. One of the CSF’s main purposes is to transport metabolites and hormones in the CNS and constantly wash the brain and spinal cord to ensure movement of these materials, preventing stagnation. CSF is actively overturned about 4.5 times per day4. Research has now shown that abnormal flow and turbulent areas of CSF can impede in this process, causing a buildup of these metabolites, producing a toxic effect2. The now toxic metabolites are thought to contribute to the triggering of the body’s immune system causing it to attack these areas of buildup.
Disruption of this CSF flow pattern can occur due to any type of space occupying lesion, i.e. tumor, growth, disc herniation and more; as well as misalignment of the vertebrae which house the CNS. When a vertebra becomes misaligned it can stretch, deform and/or occlude the space where the CSF travels. The upper neck is the most complex area of the spine and due to this complexity, it is vulnerable to injuries of both soft tissue and the membranous structures that support the CNS. Combined with the fact that it is in close proximity with the brain and brainstem, where the CSF is produced and secreted into the extracranial space, this area, when misaligned has been shown to cause CSF flow disruptions3. Therefore, if an upper cervical misalignment is present it can increase the chances and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as MS.
1) Multiple sclerosis. (2020, June 12). Retrieved October 15, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350269
2) Gupta, S., Soellinger, M., Grzybowski, D. M., Boesiger, P., Biddiscombe, J., Poulikakos, D., & Kurtcuoglu, V. (2010). Cerebrospinal fluid dynamics in the human cranial subarachnoid space: An overlooked mediator of cerebral disease. I. Computational model. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 7(49), 1195-1204. doi:10.1098/rsif.2010.0033
3) Rosa, S., & Baird, J. W. (2015). The Craniocervical Junction: Observations regarding the Relationship between Misalignment, Obstruction of Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow, Cerebellar Tonsillar Ectopia, and Image-Guided Correction. The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI, 48-66. doi:10.1159/000365470
4) Torgerud, S. R. (2016). Brain Ventricles/Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Production and Flow. In 911257297 717122431 G. R. Lewellen (Author), Human cns and pns structure (pp. 50-55). Place of publication not identified: Kendall Hunt.