Chiropractors have long held that a left to right difference in the skin temperature along the spine may indicate a level of spinal lesion or subluxation. This is due to an understanding that the nervous system controls the amount of blood flow in the small vessels in the skin and muscles around the spine, and the amount of blood flow alters the skin temperature. Blood is warm and when more blood flows to the tissues the temperature of those tissues will be increased. Conversely, when less blood flows, the temperature will be cooler.
Chiropractors use a variety of sensitive instruments to measure the difference between the temperatures on either side of the spine at each segmental level. It is considered that any level which demonstrates a difference in temperature should be investigated further to determine whether the spinal column is functioning correctly at that level, or whether it is not functioning correctly, perhaps due to subluxation, and therefore whether there is a problem in the spine which should be corrected by the chiropractor to restore normal function.
The stability of paraspinal temperature over time is not known in the scientific manner, hence the clinical value of measuring a temperature differential is not known. This study is designed to explore important questions about the thermal patterns alongside the spine and will determine whether or not such patterns are present for an amount of time which is clinically meaningful, or whether they are a short term and variable finding.
The benefits to the public include the possible identification of the clinical usefulness of measuring the differences in the temperature of the skin and muscles which are a part of the human spine. If chiropractors can find this evidence they will then be able to develop better investigative protocols which will result in more effective treatment methods and improved outcomes for patients with spine-related pain and discomfort as well as generally poor health.
Grant Value: $5860
Chief Investigator: Dr Phillip Ebrall – RMIT
- Chiropractic Journal of Australia, Volume 24, Number 4, December 1994, Page139-146
Ebrall PS., Iggo A., Hobson P., Farrant G., The Thermal Characteristics of Spinal Levels Identified as Having Differential Temperature by Contact Thermocouple Measurement (Nervo Scope)