The beautiful thing about chiropractic is that we never know how the body may express health when we adjust the subluxation. There are large studies about back pain, neck pain and headaches, and we can confidently make claims about those things. But what about non-musculoskeletal issues? What about conditions for which the causes are difficult to pin down? Things like autoimmune conditions and infertility?
The World Health Organisation currently estimates that 17.5% of people, or one in six, struggle with infertility. Autoimmune conditions are now thought to affect one in ten people worldwide. These conditions, whether related to starting a family or related to living a healthy and pain-free life, can be highly emotive and difficult to cope with. And truly, many people would not consider chiropractic care an option. The following case report is not the only one in which a person has seen improvements in autoimmune health or reproductive health concomitant with chiropractic care. But it is a case worth considering when we are caring for people with complex health needs.
So what happened? A 32-year-old female with a two-year history of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and brain fog presented for chiropractic care. She had suffered from General Anxiety Disorder since childhood and had recently received a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease – which affects the thyroid and production of hormones that govern the way the body converts fuel into energy. Previous to the diagnosis, she had been under regular chiropractic care for her CFS. The chiropractor and practice member had a discussion about the potential for the nervous system to affect hormone regulation, as fertility was an ongoing concern for her.
For this new care goal, a thorough history and examination were taken. The practice member had received several years of regular manual chiropractic care and had been informed by her previous chiropractor that her neck was very straight and little could be done about it. The practice member’s journey with infertility included a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and five failed IVF attempts. She had experienced a roll-over car accident 10-years prior to presentation, as well as multiple skiing and snowboarding falls. The practice member had used hormone therapy and SSRIs in the past, and reported an extended history of mental and emotional stress.
The chiropractor noted some abnormal blood test results at the commencement of care, indicating systemic inflammation. Abnormal heart sounds and Fukuda’s tests were also noted. Ligament instability was recorded throughout the cervical spine, along with an abnormal alignment and subluxation through C1-C7.
The practice member agreed to a concentrated care plan for two weeks, in which the Averio Functional Neurological Technique was utilised. This is a protocol in which a high number of adjustments are delivered over the course of a week, allowing the patient to receive a lot more input and care over the course of the week. Adjustments were delivered in low-level force sustained contact in the areas of subluxation. In the first week, the practice member received 88 Averio Functional Neurological Technique adjustments and 58 in the second week.
The chiropractor noted an improvement in ligament stability and reduced systemic inflammation from the results of the re-evaluation. While these findings are encouraging in isolation, the most meaningful change was related to the practice member’s fertility. Following the second week of care, the patient was able to conceive successfully. The baby was born without medical intervention and without complications. Given the practice member made no other meaningful changes to her life during the time of care, and five failed rounds of IVF, the chiropractor suggested chiropractic care may have supported the regulation and function of the nervous system, contributing to the successful outcomes.
It’s a short and sweet success story that actually concludes a long journey towards parenthood. While further research would be required to make confident claims about fertility, the possibility here is that caring for the spine and nervous system may have allowed hormonal health to regulate better. Additionally, adjusting subluxations may have allowed for better pelvic function.
We need to investigate more. But the possibility for subluxation-based nervous system care to impact the health of the sympathetic nervous system, the hormones, and the substrates necessary to sustain a new life – its exciting. Let’s see what happens next.
McIvor C, Postlethwaite R, Martin A, Kotlerman S. Improved fertility outcomes following multiple IVF failures in a patient with Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome and Hashimoto’s Disease: A Case Report. Asia-Pac Chiropr J. 2023;4.1