Resolution of Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures Following Chiropractic

A case study published on February 11, 2019, in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research documented the resolution of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures in a patient undergoing chiropractic care.

According to Peter Pressman, M.D., former clinical instructor in neurology at the Memory and Aging Center of UC San Francisco, “Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), also referred to as pseudo-seizures, are sudden episodes that resemble epileptic seizures. The difference is that epileptic seizures are caused by changes in the electric activity of the brain, while non-epileptic seizures are believed to have a psychological cause, rather than a physical cause.”

Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are not very common. According to this study, only about 4% of all seizures are PNES. Because the symptom are closely related to epileptic seizures, many patients with PNES are initially treated for epilepsy before being given a diagnosis of PNES.

In this case, a 30-year-old woman presented herself for chiropractic care. The woman’s chief complaint was that she was suffering from full body convulsions that began several years earlier. Prior to seeking chiropractic care, the woman was diagnosed with a nonepileptic seizure disorder by an internist and two neurologists. The medical tests included a full blood workup, brain scans and an electrocardiogram, which all showed to be within normal limits. She was given medication which did not help her condition.

Her symptoms included light-headedness, fainting without loss of consciousness, heavy chest compressions resulting from anxiety and even a loss of vision lasting 30-45 seconds. She also reported having a complete loss of motor function in her legs, headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and tremors. These episodes were occurring three times per week, lasting an hour each time, and usually happened when she sat up quickly or arising from bed in the morning.

The woman underwent a series of medical tests including a full blood workup, brain scans and an electrocardiogram, which all showed to be within normal limits. She was given medication which did not help her condition. As medical care continued, her condition seemed to be getting worse to the point where she was having 6 seizures per day. At this point, her internist contacted a chiropractor to see if she could be helped.

Upon seeking chiropractic, the woman was given a chiropractic evaluation and specific spinal x-rays. From the findings, specific forms of chiropractic care were started. The woman’s care plan began with three visits in the first week, and then twice a week for the next five months.

After her initial adjustment, the woman reported that she was able to stand upright without feeling compression on her spine and internal organs, which she could not do prior to her first chiropractic adjustment. She also reported that her convulsions with preceding symptoms stopped for two days after her first visit. She reported that after her second adjustment, her symptoms went away for ten days.

After 7 months of care, the woman reported very few short convulsive episodes that she described as self-induced due to activity. After that point, the woman continued chiropractic care and had no further episodes or symptoms of her previous PNES problems.

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