By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Those of you with discomfort in your backs or necks know that visiting a chiropractor can bring much-needed relief. But did you know that chiropractic work can also help with unexplained ailments – even chest pain?
Now, I cannot overstress the importance of “unexplained” in reference to chest pain, here: if you experience chest pain, in tandem with another heart attack symptom, seek emergency medical attention immediately!
Spinal Angina – An Overlooked Misalignment
After lack of blood flow through obstructed coronary arteries has been ruled out as the cause of your chest pain, you may want to consider making an appointment with a chiropractor. According to Martin Gallagher, MD, DC, a rare breed of physician who is both a chiropractor and a medical doctor, you may have a condition known as spinal angina, which is often overlooked.
“The chest muscles, ribs, heart, lungs, and stomach are controlled directly and indirectly by spinal nerves. Misalignments can interfere with these nerves and cause chest pain similar to cardiovascular angina. We call this spinal angina. Sometimes it can even produce tachycardia and other arrhythmias. Few people know about spinal angina and it is rarely diagnosed by medical doctors. An evaluation by a qualified chiropractor and spinal manipulation, if needed, can provide effective relief. There are at least a hundred different types of manipulations for fixing the situation.”
Dr. Gallagher also told me:
“Surprisingly, pain may not be present at all, as a result of spinal misalignment…In fact, loss of energy and function, not pain, are the primary signs or symptoms of a mechanical misalignment. This is one of the great misunderstandings about chiropractic. One person with a misalignment may have head, neck, or back pain. Another with a misalignment in the same place may not have any pain at all, but rather a ‘silent complaint,’ that is, the blocked energy has impacted their digestive, reproductive, cardiovascular, immune or other systems. Anything is possible. Misalignments are ‘silent robbers’ of health. They do so much more than just create back or neck pain….The role of spinal misalignment as a cause of unwellness is grossly unrecognized.”
About Chiropractic Medicine
Chiropractic medicine focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system. Doctors of chiropractic (DC) perform a procedure known as spinal manipulation to relieve pain and increase movement in the joints and relax the muscles. Numerous studies have shown that chiropractic treatment is both safe and effective. Doctors of chiropractic are trained to recognize and diagnose how misaligned spinal vertebrae can block the flow of energy and messages through the nervous system. Such blockages can lead to disease as well as loss of vitality. Chiropractic manipulations rarely cause discomfort; however, some patients may experience mild soreness or aching following treatment; any soreness usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours.
The nervous system is the communication highway of the body and is responsible for coordinating and controlling all of the body’s activities. Its hardware includes the brain, the spinal column and spinal nerves. The spinal cord, which flows down from the brain, runs through a central spinal column of 24 small bones – called the vertebrae – to your tailbone. This column of vertebrae protects your precious spinal cord. Nerves from the spinal cord branch out between the vertebrae and carry nerve impulses to all muscles and organs of the body. These parts then send messages back to the spinal cord which travel back up to the brain.
Spinal Realignment Can Help With Many Ailments
According to Dr. Gallagher, “A slight misalignment of one or more vertebrae can trigger malfunctions in the nervous system…Chiropractic realigns the vertebrae, recreating motion where the vertebrae are locked, and allowing the innate intelligence to heal and maintain the body.”
Misalignments can be at the root of the following symptoms:
- Chest discomfort
- High blood pressure
- Heart dysfunction
- Vision disturbances
- Digestive upset
- Joint pain
- Recurring colds
- Ear infections
Spinal manipulation involves putting pressure on a joint of the spine. This technique can help relieve pain and improve function. Dr. Gallagher states:
“If, for instance, acid reflux symptoms are associated with the spinal angina, we can do soft tissue manipulation. The patient lies on his or her back. Right below the sternum there is a point that we press down on as the patient breaths out. You can actually feel the stomach moving out of the diaphragm. It corrects a hiatal hernia and can instantly relieve chest pain.”
Dr. Gallagher has developed vast knowledge and experience in what he calls “missing link medicine.” He has found spinal adjustments to be a common missing link to problems that few doctors would ever relate to spinal health. In my conversation with Dr. Gallagher we explored many common conditions where chiropractic treatment could be beneficial. If you undergo a cardiac evaluation and it turns out negative, you might benefit greatly from having a spinal evaluation. Some of the conditions that may respond well to chiropractic attention are:
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Hearing loss
- Irregular heart palpitations
- Prostate enlargement
Speaking with Dr. Gallagher was a real eye-opener. He was able to clear up the mystery of non-cardiovascular chest pain that had puzzled me for years. It reminded me that you need to remember to include the backbone as part of your personal health equation. Your spinal nerves communicate with your entire body and structural misalignment of vertebrae can be the cause of a many unresolved problems. Seeking out chiropractic care for an evaluation is smart for prevention and a great practice for maintaining a healthy spine and body. It’s definitely what this doctor orders in many cases!
Find the Right Chiropractor for You
Be sure to do your homework when seeking out a chiropractor. Ask for recommendations from family and friends and be on the lookout for chiropractors that work with nutrition like Dr. Gallagher. Another option is to seek out the care of an Osteopathic doctor (DO), an MD who’s received extra training in the musculoskeletal system and who can provide osteopathic manipulative treatments to realign the spinal column. Many DOs are primary care physicians who specialize in preventive medicine and practice holistically, taking the entire body into consideration; treatment may include a focus on nutrition and supplements. Most of all, make sure that the physician you work with listens to your concerns and will use an approach that fits your needs. Trust your intuition, as you would with any other doctor.
If you would like to contact Dr. Gallagher’s clinic – Medical Wellness Associates – for a consultation, call (800) 834-4325. I also highly recommend Dr. Gallagher’s book – Dr. Gallagher’s Guide to 21st Century Medicine. This book details the many ways that chiropractic treatment can be beneficial for both prevention and the resolution of many common health conditions.
Need a referral? There are some chiropractors on My Top Docs List
Visit Drsinatra.com and read:
- Sinatra, ST. Unexplained Heart Problems? Chiropractic may help. Heart, Health & Nutrition. 2009;15(12): 2-6.
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