The Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research published a case study on July 3, 2017, documenting the return of the sense of smell in a patient from chiropractic care. The loss of smell, medically called anosmia, was due to a primary central nervous system tumor.
The study author begins by explaining that central nervous system (CNS) tumors are space-occupying lesions that manifest as neoplasms (abnormal growths) of neuroepithelial tissue (stem cells of the nervous system). The incidence of CNS tumors is 20.59 cases per 100,000 people. These are the second most common form of childhood malignancy.
In this case, a 25-year-old man suffering from neck pain went to the chiropractor. His neck pain had started seven years earlier, but he did not recall an incident or injury that caused his problem. He reported that there was no activity or position that made his problem better, but that standing for long periods made him worse. Additionally, he reported tingling and weakness radiating into his right arm. He also was suffering with lower back pain, headaches, and dizziness.
An examination was performed. His vital signs were normal. It was noted that he was unable to detect certain types of smells or identify between them. A postural analysis showed uneven shoulders and hips. His neck range of motion was reduced in all directions. Additionally, palpation of the spine found multiple misalignments. A thermography study performed showed areas of uneven heat. Spinal x-rays of the man’s neck showed degeneration between the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae.
An MRI of the patient’s neck showed a large tumor in the neck from the second to the seventh bone. His medical physician stated that he was probably born with it, and it should be monitored with future MRI scans.
A chiropractic determination was made that subluxation was present and could be addressed at the top of the spine, known as the atlas. Specific adjustments were applied to this bone as indicated by analysis.
A reassessment was performed five months into care. At that time, almost all testing had returned to normal or had greatly improved. The man reported that his neck pain, low back pain, headaches, and dizziness were all gone, and had been resolved since four months and seven days into his care. Additionally, the man was tested to see if there was any change in his sense of smell. The test showed that he had regained his ability to smell items normally, and to differentiate between them.
In his conclusion, the author noted that due to the rarity of this type of condition and the lack of larger studies, it is not possible to draw generalized conclusions about chiropractic and these conditions. “The patient’s perceived pain decreased as well as objective analysis of the symptoms secondary to the congenital tumor.” The author continued, “There is little to no research on chiropractic and its use for symptoms secondary to congenital tumors. This patient showed improvement but since this is a case study it is unknown whether these results could be reproduced.”