Back in May, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in which they found that the addition of chiropractic care to normal medical care improved health care outcomes for members of the armed forces. This is excellent news! Chiropractors and chiropractic patients already know the many benefits that come from chiropractic care, and it's always positive to have those benefits validated in a high-quality study in a respected journal.
From the study (and please note that "LBP" stand for low back pain):
In the US military, LBP is one of the most common reasons members seek medical care and one of the most likely conditions to interrupt combat duty. Common medical therapies for LBP, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, spinal fusions, and epidural steroid injections, demonstrate limited effectiveness; furthermore, many of these treatments have unacceptably high risk profiles.
The study's authors claim, rightly, that the strength of this study is that chiropractic care for these patients was not merely compared against medical care (a comparison that has been done many times in the past). Instead, since the military services have a large number of patients already receiving medical care, the authors investigated if the addition of chiropractic care for some of the patients would help them improve. The results were impressive:
Chiropractic care, when added to UMC [note from Dr. Johnson: "UMC" means usual medical care], resulted in moderate short-term treatment benefits in both LBP intensity and disability, demonstrated a low risk of harms, and led to high patient satisfaction and perceived improvement in active-duty military personnel. This trial provides additional support for the inclusion of chiropractic care as a component of multidisciplinary health care for LBP, as currently recommended in existing guidelines.
This is a personal story, because it happened to me this past month. Most of the best medical stories are anecdotes rather than research papers, so here's an anecdotal case study for you!
Just like many people in the Peoria area and around the country, I had a case of the flu in January. It involved several days of feeling exhausted, achy, and feverish, so I spent a couple days laying around without much energy to move. That's pretty typical for the flu, and there were no other health escalations or worries.
However, I noticed that as soon as I started feeling better I had diarrhea with early morning and late evening abdominal cramps. This is unusual. Many times people will talk about the "stomach flu", but the truth is that real influenza does not cause gastrointestinal problems. If you're nauseated or throwing up, you probably don't have the flu. Influenza is an upper respiratory illness only.
I had never experienced this pairing of symptoms, so I thought I'd keep an eye on it. So I noticed that the diarrhea just did not improve at all over the next couple weeks. Frankly, I had thought that once my body recovered from the flu, then it would work on healing whatever it was that was causing my diarrhea. But it now didn't seem so simple.
So I embarked on what I consider to be a fairly typical way to address diarrhea using non-pharmaceutical methods. First, I drank plenty of water to make sure that I didn't dehydrate. Then I started changing my diet, one item at a time. I started eating more fiber like bran cereal, then stopped when it made no change. I went several days without drinking a beer. I increased my intake of whole fruits and vegetables like bananas. (I do not drink coffee or cola so I didn't have to change my caffeine intake. I had not recently taken any antibiotics.)
But, nope. Nothing was making it better. It was now about four to five weeks of diarrhea, loose stools. There was no blood in my stool and I didn't have a fever, so I assumed that my colon was still healthy and I didn't have an infection. This was just flat-out mysterious.
There were other remedies that I was ready to try, such as a 24-hour liquid diet to rest the bowels, neutroceuticals, and pharmaceuticals.
But then I remembered something important, which made me feel a bit foolish. I hadn't yet tried chiropractic care. And I'm a chiropractor! Sometimes we all miss what's right in front of us. So, I started looking at my own symptoms in a whole new light, and tried to process my case as though I was a patient.
My diarrhea had begun after the flu, but what if it wasn't related to the flu at all? What if it was caused by simply lying around in a bed and saggy couch for several days in a row? What if that poor posture for several days had affected my spinal lumbar curve? What if, even though I didn't have low back pain, the lumbar curve problem was irritating the nerves that leave my spinal cord to tell the colon what do?
We know that the nervous system acts as a muscle inhibitor. In other words, when the nerves are functioning properly, they tell muscles NOT to contract. And when the nerves are not functioning properly, the muscles will contract on their own just because that's what they like to do. We also know that people can have spinal problems without having pain, because pain is a poor predictor of low-level nerve irritation.
So, I now theorized, I might be experiencing a chiropractic problem, where my nerves were inhibited due to a postural problem, allowing the muscles of my colon to move the food through WAY TOO FAST instead of compacting the foot into nice, proper, solid stool.
I received an Activator Methods chiropractic adjustment, and the diarrhea cleared up, like magic. That night I had no gassy feeling and the following morning I had no diarrhea at all. Just a perfect bowel movement.
The diarrhea returned the following day, as sometimes happens with longstanding problems. Spinal or muscular habits don't usually disappear immediately, but take a couple of repeated reminders to form proper habits. So I returned for a couple more Activator Methods chiropractic adjustments, and I'm happy to state that the diarrhea has now cleared up entirely.
Some might say that's coincidence, but mild cases of diarrhea don't typically linger for 5+ weeks, and more severe cases of diarrhea don't typically respond to chiropractic care alone. So I think it's very likely that my current theory is correct (even though it took me far too long to think of it!). I think my poor posture initiated a cascade effect where my spinal problem gave me no pain but only one symptom: diarrhea. And rather than treat it with drugs, I only needed to treat it with chiropractic care after all.
Chiropractic and diarrhea. They might not be unrelated after all.
Retired Army Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris credits chiropractic care with saving his life.
Last month, Staff Sgt. Harris was featured in the Illinois-based The State Journal Register with his story of war wounds and injuries, his long path of surgeries and suffering, his dark journey with opioid medications, and his eventual recovery thanks to chiropractic care.
Here is his story in his own words:
October has been declared as Chiropractic Health Care Month in Illinois by Illinois governor Bruce Rauner. October has traditionally been considered to be the "birthday" of chiropractic, since the first modern chiropractic adjustment was delivered during October, 1895. Chiropractic now has a special place in the lives of people in Illinois and Peoria, as statistics show that about 2 million people in Illinois seek chiropractic care each year.
Here's the proclamation itself:
Well, all the children in Peoria are back to school. And, hopefully, not back to... back pain!
Children lug around pounds worth of books, papers, lunches, and other materials to and from school, and all that weight can cause back pain if their backpacks are not used properly. Here's a quick video from healthierillinois.com on backpack fitting and use:
Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
All images used are under Creative Commons license.
Although every effort has been made to provide an accurate description of our chiropractic care and its benefits, the information given on this website and blog is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, medical advice for any condition.
If you have any questions regarding your condition, you should seek the help of Dr. Johnson in person, so that he may properly assess your condition.
This blog is provided by Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria, PC, proudly located in Peoria, IL.