The many vessels of the body
As with any roadway, there exists the possibility of traffic jams that prevent normal travel within your body’s vessels. If you hit your elbow in a certain spot, for instance, the ulnar nerve that carries electrical impulses into your hand becomes affected, temporarily disrupting the neurologic flow before normal sensation returns; that is the mechanism behind the popular expression “hitting your funny bone.” Much more severe occurrences can occur in other parts of the body, diminishing the normal function of the heart, lungs, immune system, etc. Another example would be decreased circulation of blood or lymph through their respective vessels, causing a variety of problems all their own.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can also be compromised. As with other types of fluid, it is constantly reproduced, the old being reabsorbed to make room for the new, like an everyday oil change of sorts. One of the most common areas to cause disruption of CSF flow is the junction between the head and the neck, which is the main intersection between the brain and the spinal cord through the brainstem. Top segment of the spinal column, the first cervical vertebra (C1), is a highly mobile bone held in place by muscles and ligaments instead of interlocking joints, making it less stable and more susceptible to misalignment when traumas occur. The head and neck misalignment affects all types of fluid flow, not just CSF, but there is increasingly widespread data that shows it to be perhaps the most common cause of CSF interruption, be it in flowing freely or draining properly.
In 2008, an Italian researcher made the connection between CSF and blood flow disruption and Multiple Sclerosis, calling it chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency. Multiple Sclerosis is the most prevalent autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system at roughly 400,000 people in the United States (a whopping 16% of total worldwide cases known). The condition is distinguished by the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord being attacked by the body’s own immune system. As these core areas of the nervous system are our life line, the devastation often left in the wake of severe cases is life-altering.
The most pertinent question regarding any autoimmune disorder is: why is the defense system attacking the very body it was designed to protect? In regards to M.S. as relates to the CSF flow disruption, the research shows that failure to drain causes an accumulation of fluid in various parts along the brain and spinal cord. CSF does not actually flow through vessels like blood or lymph, but instead travels in between spaces; when its course is impeded, it creates a scenario similar to a car attempting to find an alternate route to escape traffic – the CSF simply moves around the hindrance. Unfortunately, there is not much space for it to go and pockets accrue. The immune system consequently recognizes these areas, views them as threats to the body, and signals an attack. The aftermath is several tiny areas of scarring, otherwise known as sclerosis; multiple areas of scarring are called multiple sclerosis.
The Italian doctor found that a procedure to restore normal fluid flow had an incredible effect, prompting symptoms to decrease and the regression of the condition. His method involved surgery to apply small balloons or stints, but newer research has centered on the efficacy of a less invasive option: the upper cervical specific chiropractic correction.
One of the problems with the surgical route is that there was found to be a high reoccurrence of scarring in newer areas, primarily because it never did address the most fundamental issue: if distortion of blood flow and improper drainage of CSF prompts the immune system to attack the body, then what caused the fluid not to flow or drain properly in the first place? The new research points to the upper neck misalignment.
Dr. Erin Elster, an Upper Cervical practitioner, has previously established that 90% of patients diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis had previously suffered a trauma to the head or neck prior to the onset of their symptoms. Another Upper Cervical practitioner, Dr. Scott Rosa, is using upright MRI to specifically identify the pooling of CSF in the brain, correcting the diagnosed upper cervical misalignment that presumably caused the CSF disruption, and then doing another upright MRI to confirm that the CSF pools have dissipated. Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Jim McMahon, is a major advocate for this technique, describing his post-correction experience as “like a toilet flushed in my head.”
In 2015, the results were released from a multi-year collaborative project between several medical physicians in Italy and American Upper Cervical practitioners, supporting Elster’s and Rosa’s studies and showing that the upper cervical correction had a dramatically positive impact on restoring fluid drainage and flow, essentially reproducing the surgical option’s results without the downside. “We believe that the Upper Cervical correction on C1-C2 could be the main non-invasive treatment of CCSVI in patients with MS,” they concluded from their findings. A larger clinical trial is now underway.
Anyone suffering from M.S. is an encouraged to at least have their upper neck evaluated by an Upper Cervical practitioner, especially if they have a history of head or neck trauma (and most do). Traditional methods to treat autoimmune disorders like M.S. are not popular in the scientific community. One method sees the immune system depressed by powerful drugs, making the entire body more susceptible to infection or cancer, while others see powerful steroids introduced in an attempt to boost immune function, but as scientists at Oregon State are confirming, that approach "is like hitting an ant with a sledgehammer." There is nothing to be lost by seeking alternative options such as Upper Cervical Care.