A study published on April 12, 2018, in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research documented the case of a person suffering with symptoms from ankylosing spondylitis being helped by chiropractic. The study begins by pointing out the focus of chiropractic. “In addition to promoting health, wellness and disease prevention, chiropractors focus on the neuromusculoskeletal system and its integrity for the purpose of enhancing health and performance.”
On their website, the Spondylitis Association of America provides an overview of the condition described in this study by saying, “Ankylosing spondylitis or AS, is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort. In more advanced cases this inflammation can lead to ankylosis — new bone formation in the spine — causing sections of the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position.”
The study notes that AS commonly begins in the sacroiliac joints but can occur in other areas of the spine as well. The condition is progressive and is commonly treated with anti-inflammatory and pain drugs, which often come with significant side effects, especially if used for extensive periods of time. Since this condition is both chronic and progressive, the authors note that many people turn to alternative treatments such as chiropractic in order to avoid long-term drug use.
In this case, a 38-year-old man went to the chiropractic for an assessment and possible care for mid to upper back pain, neck pain, left groin pain, right knee and heel pain, and bilateral buttock pain. He had been suffering with a combination of these current pains for the last five years before seeking chiropractic. Overall, he had sought out medical care for a variety of pains for the previous ten years and was eventually diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. He did suffer one work injury six years ago which made his symptoms worse. He was advised by his medical physician that his condition was progressive and would get worse.
On a chiropractic examination, it was recorded that the man was hunched forward due to the forward curve of his spine. His ranges of motion were significantly reduced. Due to his hunched-over position, a pillow was placed under his chest, so he could lie face-down on the chiropractic table for the examination. Chiropractic care was started with special considerations being given to the man’s specific spinal situation.
Seven days after the start of chiropractic care, the man reported that he noticed a decrease in pain and an increase in his range of motion after the adjustment. This improvement lasted for one day. After another chiropractic adjustment, the man immediately noticed a decrease in pain and an increase in his motion. He was then given some home exercises to perform in addition to his chiropractic care.
As care continued, the man reported that the exercises caused some soreness afterward, but that his posture and motion continued to improve as did his pain level. With continued chiropractic care and home exercises, the man continued to show improvement. One description of such improvement noted by the study authors included the following: “Prior to chiropractic care, the patient could not lie supine without the use of a thick pillow to support his ‘stuck’ forward head carry as he was not able to extend his neck and upper back far enough for his head to lie flat. With chiropractic care, the patient was able to lie comfortably in the supine position with his head lying flat.”
In their conclusion the authors wrote, “This case report provides supporting evidence that patients suffering from AS may benefit from chiropractic care.”