The results of a randomized controlled study, which included sham procedures, was published in the May 2018 edition of the journal Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. The study showed that subjects with non-specific dizziness and neck pain were helped by chiropractic.
The study begins by pointing out that neck pain and dizziness are common ailments in older adults. While neck pain carries with it the discomfort and limitation of daily activity, dizziness adds the risk of fall which can lead to serious problems, disability, or even death. For this reason, any form of care that can assist in the reduction of dizziness is of value to an aging population.
This study was conducted in Australia, so the statistic related to population occurrences may be different from other countries such as the United States. It is inferred that most industrialized advanced nations would share similar statistics concerning dizziness. One such statistic noted that among Australians over the age of 50, about 36% have reported dizziness in the past three months. Women seem to be affected by the problem at a slightly higher rate than are men. The medical treatment for dizziness is usually drugs. However, these medications carry a variety of risks including an increase incidence of falling in the elderly population.
Neck pain also carries an increased statistical risk of falls, although not as great as dizziness. The medical treatment of neck pain through medications carries its own risk of side effects. It has been well documented that pain medication usage has become a major health issue in most societies.
Neck pain accompanied by dizziness is referred to as “cervicogenic dizziness” or “cervical dizziness.” The diagnosis of cervicogenic dizziness is usually made by ruling out all other possible factors that could be causing the dizziness independent of the neck pain.
This study was unique in several ways. First, the researchers used social media and advertising to recruit a large number of people for the study. From the respondents, the numbers were reduced by only accepting people who would fit into a specifically narrow criteria. Participants had to be between the ages of 65 and 85, and have both neck pain and dizziness for a period of at least three months.
A number of factors led to participants not being included in the study. Such factors that would exclude participants from the study were pathologies relating to the dizziness, a diagnosis of Meniere’s disease, a history of stroke or heart disease, psychiatric diseases, or a history of inflammatory joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Because of the narrow parameters of acceptance, the number of acceptable participants in the study was drastically reduced.
The remaining participants were randomly divided into two groups. The participants did not know which group they were in, or what the difference was. One group got chiropractic adjustments using an instrument set to the proper level to deliver an adjustment, the other group received a sham adjustment with the same type of instrument set to the zero level. This would allow the instrument to activate and make the same noise and sensation as a real adjustment without any impulse as in a real adjustment. Care was rendered for the same period of 4 weeks to both groups, after which a re-evaluation of the level of dizziness and neck pain was performed.
Data related to the severity of the neck pain and the dizziness were done one week prior to any chiropractic or sham intervention and then again one week after the four-week four-visit trial. The dizziness was measured using a dizziness handicap inventory (DHI) score, and the neck pain was measured using a neck disability index (NDI) score. The results of this study showed that the group that received the real adjustment was statistically improved for both the neck pain over the group that got the sham adjustments when measured using the standardized DHI and NDI scoring.