A case study published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research on March 14, 2019, documented the resolution of headaches and neck pain in a patient with rheumatoid arthritis who underwent chiropractic care. People suffering with rheumatoid arthritis often have a variety of symptoms associated with pain and discomfort.
The Arthritis Foundation describes rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on their website by stating, "Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The synovium makes a fluid that lubricates joints and helps them move smoothly."
The author of the study notes that the chronic systemic inflammation from RA can damage a variety of body systems including the skin, eyes, lung, heart, and blood vessels. The condition typically begins between the ages of 40-60 years and is first noticed as pain in the hands and feet. Later, the effects of the condition can then travel more toward parts nearer the center of the body.
In this case, a 59-year-old man went to the chiropractor for pain in his neck and headaches. For the previous 15 years, he was under the care of a rheumatologist for RA. His additional symptoms included ringing in his ears, foot pain, low back pain, and pain in his elbows, hands, hips, knees, legs, and feet bilaterally in addition to swollen joints.
The man's occupation was as a brick-layer which was very physically demanding. His past medical care included anti-inflammatory medications, prednisone shots, prescription pain killers, and muscle relaxers. On two occasions, he had been given epidural steroid injections in his back for the pain.
A chiropractic examination and x-rays were performed to determine the presence of subluxation in the man's spine. Based on the determination that subluxations were present, specific chiropractic adjustments were started to address the findings.
Several follow-up examinations showed improvements in the testing procedures as compared to when the man was initially examined. On a self-evaluation form given at one of the updates, the man noted significant improvement and reported that his neck pain and headaches were now rated as a zero, meaning completely resolved. Additionally, the man commented that since starting chiropractic care, his "posture was better", and he was "Not taking Tramadol for pain of RA." He rated his overall improvement to be at 90% and self-rated his recovery as "excellent."
In the conclusion, the author summed up this case by stating, "The symptoms this patient was experiencing in this case have been improved 90% since the first (specific chiropractic) adjustment. This was a case where the patient had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was on pain medication for the pain associated with that RA while simultaneously suffering from neck pain and headaches at the same time. This patient has had no headaches or neck pain since the first adjustment and has not had to take any pain medication for his RA since the first adjustment."
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