At this point in time, we don’t know for sure what causes Rheumatoid Arthritis. Researchers believe there may be a familial link in the disorder, but they still search for reasons as to why the body has decided to attack its own joints. For sufferers of Rheumatoid Arthritis, often the first line of defence is the use of Corticosteroids, pain-relievers or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (or DMARDS). The role of the corticosteroid is to mimic adrenal hormones and assist in handling inflammation, whereas DMARDS are designed to stop the body from attacking and destroying its own tissue .
But is pharmacology the only way to handle rheumatoid arthritis? There is a case study that suggests there may be alternatives that can be considered.
First published in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, the case study looked at the chiropractic care of a 54 year old woman who suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis. The woman in question had suffered from the condition for seven years, her chief complaint being “severe bilateral polyarthralgia especially in the hands and fingers. She experienced difficulty executing and sustaining weight-bearing activities due to the severity of pain .” She found that the use of DMARDS and Corticosteroids slightly reduced the pain and inflammation.
However, she still rated her pain as a 9 out of 10.
When she began chiropractic care, the practitioner evaluated her using inspection, palpation, surface electromyography and x-ray. Following this, chiropractic care was able to help her realise an improved “hypolordotic cervical curve and anterior head translation. The sEMG scan improved from severe hypertonicities at C1, C3, C5 and C7 to moderate hypertonicities at C1 and C5 only .”
After a time in chiropractic care (36 visits in 4 months), the woman reported that her pain scale was now 1 out of 10. Her quality of life had improved, as she was now able to ambulate more easily, walk up and down stairs, dance and exercise without pain.
What could be driving this improved function and decreased pain? The case study was focused on the subluxation based care that featured strongly in the person’s program of care. Thus, it encourages the question as to whether correcting subluxations could have a significant impact on Rheumatoid Arthritis. David Jockers, a chiropractor and researcher, stated this:
“Neural dysfunctions due to spinal misalignments are stressful to the body and cause abnormal changes that lead to a poorly coordinated immune response. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to boost the coordinated responses of the nervous system and immune system.
Subluxations are an example of physical nerve stress that affects neuronal control. According to researchers, such stressful conditions lead to altered measures of immune function & increased susceptibility to a variety of diseases.
Inflammatory based disease is influenced by both the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. Nerve stimulation directly affects the growth and function of inflammatory cells. Researchers found that dysfunction in this pathway results in the development of various inflammatory syndromes such as rheumatoid arthritis and behavioral syndromes such as depression .”
Dr. Jockers is a firm believer in the power of the subluxation to impact and alter neuronal function and, as a result, affect the body’s regulation of other systems, such as the immune system
As research advances, we are seeing an increase in evidence that the neurological, endocrine and immune systems are inextricably linked. With more than 80 auto-immune disorders currently gracing the medical lexicon, perhaps it’s time we invest more into researching what we have long suspected: that adjusting subluxations may have a powerful impact on non-musculoskeletal systems, including those which pertain to the immune system.
[1a] Staff writer, (2015), “Steroids” Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/art-20045692 retrieved 23 July 2015 and
[1b] Bayer College of Medicine, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0050554/#consra2.s6
Pero, J and Jockers, D (2012), “Improvement in Cervical Curvature and Health Outcomes in a Patient with Rheumatiod Arthritis Undergoing Chiropractic Care to Reduce Vertebral Subluxation,” Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, July 26 2012, http://vertebralsubluxation.sharepoint.com/Pages/2012_1229_ra.aspx
 Jockers, D (2011), “Chiropractic Boost Immunity,” Natural News, http://www.naturalnews.com/031206_chiropractic_immunity.html, Retrieved 24 July 2015
 Jockers, D (2012), “Chiropractic Treatment Improves Functionality of Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis,” Natural News http://www.naturalnews.com/036823_chiropractic_care_rheumatoid_arthritis_improvement.html