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Archive for December, 2010

Schematic Examples of CNS Structural Changes i...

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Fibromyalgia is a little understood illness that still has the stigma of not being a real disease to many ignorant people and doctors.  However, people who do have fibromyalgia would argue that the reality of their life with fibromyalgia includes pain, stiffness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.  As a recent patient told me “everything but my eyeballs hurt!”  I have also been told by patients that it feels like you have the flu…achy all over…but it never goes away!  Perhaps studies of the brain changes and chronic pain may help researchers and doctors better understand illnesses like fibromyalgia.  The latest research is suggesting that fibromyalgia has a connection with the central nervous system and is the result of a malfunction, or dysfunction, of the central nervous system.  A. Kuchinad and colleagues studied 10 women who had fibromyalgia and compared them with 10 women who did not have the illness. Among the women with fibromyalgia, Kuchinad’s team found a reduction in brain tissue that wasn’t found in the controls. This finding was backed up by yet another study not long after.  Other research has shown awake like brain activity in patients with Fibromyalgia when sleeping.  No REM sleep leads to the unrefreshed sleep common with the condition. 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is another syndrome that has its skeptics.  There is no test for IBS (nor for fibromyalgia). Diseases that have no tests are diagnosed through exclusion. This means that doctors must do
tests to rule out all other possibilities and IBS is only diagnosed when all other illnesses are ruled out.  People with IBS experience pain and cramping, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. As with fibromyalgia, brain imaging of patients with IBS has found a loss in brain tissue and the patterns are very similar to fibromyalgia and other chronic pain issues.

So what is wrong with the central nervous system with people who are suffering with these mysterious conditions?

Frequently, an undetected head or neck injury that is affecting the brain is the cause.  A Brain Stem Subluxation causes pressure on the central nervous system at the level of the atlas (top bone in the neck).  When accidents and injuries tear loose the connective tissue that holds the spine together it will create a weakness and allow the spine to break down and lock into a stressed position.  The most vulnerable area of the body to trauma is the upper neck because it is the most movable area of the entire body.  If that top bone is misaligned it disrupts the function of the central nervous system.

I have seen hundreds of patients with brain stem subluxations in my practice and frequently it is an underlying cause of conditions like Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  For instance my patient who 3 months ago said that everything but her eyeballs hurt…reported today that 80 % of all the Fibromyalgia symptoms are gone!  This is a condition that she has struggled with for over 9 years and has seen a half a dozen different doctors. 

What has happened to her body?

Due to a head trauma that had occured earlier on in her life, her head and neck were significantly misaligned and that misalignment was causing pressure into the brain stem.  As the pressure has been removed her body has begun the healing process.  The longer that nervous system has been dysfunctional the longer it takes to heal.  But at 3 months she has already had a dramatic decrease in pain and stiffness, can sleep through the night and has near normal energy. 

Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome have similar results.  As the nervous system begins sending the proper messages to the digestive system again…digestion frequently becomes normal.

So does this type of treatment help everyone with Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome?  Of course not!  Nothing is 100%.  But if you have had a head or neck trauma prior to the onset of the symptoms then Upper Cervical Chiropractic could be the answer.

Here is a quick way to see if you may be a candidate.  Postural problems are common with Upper Neck Misalignments.  So stand in front of a mirror and close your eyes.  Bring your head down and back up and then open your eyes.  Do you notice that your head is tilting to one side?  Are your shoulders level?  It is not definitive…but if you have a history of any type of head or neck trauma then the chances that you are a good candidate go up dramatically.  Sometimes it is difficult to remember head or neck traumas especially if they have been years or even decades earlier.  So here are some questions to ask yourself.  Have you had a concusssion?  Been knocked unconscious?  Had stitches to your head?

Most doctors will do a complimentary consultation to see if you are a candidate. 

Don’t give up hope…there is a cause behind every effect in the body. 

Just when you thought you checked everything…have you checked to see if your head is on straight?

Dr. William R. Davis Jr., D.C. is a Vista Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist.  He is in private practice in Southern California in the city of Vista.  He specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck).  This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at http://www.nuccawellness.com

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Troy Aikman, American football quarterback.

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Dr. Davis here from Vista CA…

I was recently watching a you tube video where Troy Aikman describes his battle with Migraine headaches and how now that he is on the right medication everything is alright (see the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3XMafyMCYM).  What is the logical fallacy in that thinking?  If you have the right medication everything is okay.  Well what does medication do on its most basic level?  Is it really better living through chemistry?  Let’s a take a look.

When drugs (chemicals) are put into the body your body’s chemistry will be altered.  We already have a lot of chemicals in there and adding some more will alter the levels.  This is the effects of a medication…altered body chemistry.  Some of the effects are desired and some are not.  This is the difference between desired effects and side or adverse effects.  It is like the example of Viagra.  It was originally tested as a blood pressure medication.  However during the clinical trials the desired effect of lowering blood pressure wasn’t happening…however something was happening to the male participants!  After a change in the marketing voilà!!!  We now have a new erectile dysfunction medication.  The side effect has become the desired effect!

There are 13,000 prescription drugs on the market.  According to a 2009 Congressional Budget Office study, the pharmaceutical industry spends about one-third of its $20 billion direct-to-consumer advertising budget on just 10 drugs. Medicines for erectile dysfunction, depression, cholesterol and high blood pressure tend to get big campaigns.  But headache medications also get more than enough money for advertising.  All that marketing has convinced millions of Americans including Troy Aikman that drugs are the answer to symptoms. 

Now if you just want to get rid of the symptoms and not address the cause, than medicines are good for that.  Migraine headaches are not caused by a lack of Imitrex or any other medication in the body, that I can guarantee.  Imitrex can with certain people cause many of the symptoms of Migraine headaches to go away, but it does not get to the cause of the headache…regardless of the advertising and marketing.

So it comes down to a personal choice.  Do you want to cover up the symptoms or find out the cause?  If you choose to cover up the symptoms…what happens if a year down the road after your body begins to build up a tolerance, that medication doesn’t work anymore and now you have to take Vicodin or some other narcotic…would you do that ?

The medical approach is a way to look at health called the outside in approach.  Something is happening to your body and you need to add something to your body in order to change the symptoms.  Alter the chemistry.

Now there is a different approach, it is called an inside out approach.  This approach looks at what you already have inside your body and trusts the design of the body.  The first question of this approach is why?  Why do I have Migraines?  Is it related to my diet, my sleep patterns, my water intake or something else.

Could it be that the blood flow from your brain to your body is altered?  The veins that drain the brain are not working right and sometimes it is too much for your body to take and you get a massive headache (a migraine)?  Now what could cause a change of blood flow from the brain to the body?  Research using Phase Contrast MRI looking at the blood vessels from the brain to the body in migraine sufferers is now demonstrating that when a person has a misalignment of the top bone in the neck called the atlas, the blood flow is altered and when the bone is repositioned using a highly precise procedure the blood flow is changed and the Migraine headaches go away.

Now this procedure is not manipulation!  There is no cracking, popping or twisting of the spine.  It is a specialized realigning of the spine using a procedure called NUCCA.  NUCCA stands for the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association.  These special chiropractors are able to visualize this misalignment with a very precise 3 dimensional X-ray series.  Based on the measurements from the x-rays the position of the Atlas is determined and then is realigned over time back to as normal as a position as possible.  This procedure produces changes in both blood and nerve flow from the brain instantly.

So maybe Troy Aikman, a NUCCA doctor could help you. 

At least you would be addressing the cause and not just covering up the symptoms for the rest of your life.



Dr. William R. Davis Jr., D.C. is a Vista Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist.  He is in private practice in Southern California in the city of Vista.  He specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck).  This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at http://www.nuccawellness.com

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Animation of an MRI brain scan, starting at th...

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Dr. Davis, N.U.C.C.A. Chiropractor here again from Vista California…

Brain Plasticity also called Neuroplasticity is the ability of your brain to reorganize neural (nerve) pathways in the brain. In simple terms, every time you learn how to do something, you are unconsciously memorizing the process of how it’s done and what the outcome will be. As you learn, your brain is making subtle changes to accommodate the new information and ability.  Neuroplasticity is generally a good thing and allows us to survive. However, there can be negative consequences.

When a person suffers a head or neck injury as a result of a car crash, fall or other accident, the tissues around the spine are stretched and torn.  This damage creates a weakness which allows the spine to break down and lock into a stressed position.  One of the hips will be higher than the other in the standing position.  One of the shoulders will be higher and the head will generally lean to one side.  If this acute injury is not corrected a chronic pattern will develop.  Just like shaping something made of plastic the nervous system begins to develop a fixed pattern. Think of this like a bad habit.  If you do the same thing all the time your brain and your body begins to develop that pattern and the longer you have had that habit the harder it will be to break.

In the same way with these chronic spinal patterns…the longer it has been there the more difficult is will be to break the pattern.

What does chronic pain have to do with neuroplasticity?

As research techniques become more refined, researchers are able to study the human brain and its function in living people, rather than waiting for an autopsy. Up to now, researchers have been able to establish the existence of a network of pain-transmitting areas within the central nervous system (CNS). This was first demonstrated with animals and, more recently, by performing brain studies with humans.

Chronic pain is pain that has been present, either continually or off and on, for at least three to six months.  Chronic pain is complex and often difficult to pinpoint and treat by the medical profession. Acute pain is a sudden pain that can usually be identified and treated, such as a toothache, stubbing your toe, or having surgery.  Chronic pain is very common among North American adults. Data from 1999 demonstrated that about 50 million people seek help for chronic pain. Chronic pain affects people’s lives because it can cause other physical problems, affect the ability to work and enjoy life, and it can affect the social and economic status of people. Chronic pain causes lost productivity and increases health care costs.

Where neuroplasticity comes in is when acute pain develops into chronic pain. Your body reacts to acute pain as it warns you that something is wrong. Usually, once the acute pain has been dealt with, the pain goes away and becomes a distant memory. However, if the cause of the acute pain is not dealt with over the course of a few weeks, months, and sometimes even years, your brain’s “wiring” may reorganize itself and tell your body that the chronic pain should be there and will stay there.  How this change occurs is different from person to person.

Chronic back pain, particularly of the lower back, is the most common complaint of pain in the developed world, even more than headaches
and migraines. It’s estimated that 70 to 85 percent of people in developed countries have had, have, or will have chronic lower back pain at some point in their lifetime.  The connection between back pain and brain function has interested researchers for quite a while. In 2004, A.V. Apkanian and colleagues analyzed 17 patients who complained of chronic back pain. After examining the patients’ brains, the researchers found that the patients had some brain atrophy (wasting away of tissue) in the brain.

“Other researchers, such as T. Schmidt-Wicke, agreed with Apkarian when that team studied 18 patients and matched them with controls, people without chronic back pain. The researchers found the same decrease in brain tissue among those patients who had pain, but not in the controls.”

Eight studies that looked at the shape and changes in brain tissue point to the issue that there is a connection between neuroplasticity and chronic pain. It appears that no matter what is causing the chronic pain, the same changes are taking place in the brain and in the same areas.

What is actually causing the brain cell shrinkage or loss?  That’s the key issue.

New research relating to the blood flow to and from the brain may provide a connection.  Phase contrast MRI of the veins and arteries from the brain to the body are showing that when a person has a misalignment of the upper neck (Atlas vertebrae) the blood flow from the brain is altered.  Once the atlas is restored to it’s normal position the blood flow is normalized.

So if someone suffers a injury that causes a misalignment of the atlas at 25 and does not find the underlying structural problem for 10 years…the brain has not had normal blood flow for 10 years! That may result in the atrophy that the researchers are detecting.  And why so frequently we see patients with Lower Back Pain or Sciatica respond so well to an upper neck adjustment with the NUCCA procedure.

If you are experiencing chronic pain an underlying Atlas Misalignment could be the reason.  To have your brain stem and upper cervical spine evaluated for an undetected injury go to  http://www.nuccawellness.com if you are not in the San Diego County area go to www.nucca.org

References:

http://www.spineuniversity.com/files/Journal_Watch/spineU_neuroplasticity.pdf

http://ucrf.org/projects-funding/project-descriptions#cerebral

Dr. William R. Davis Jr., D.C. is a Vista Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist.  He is in private practice in Southern California in the city of Vista.  He specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck).  This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at http://www.nuccawellness.com

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Tired Woman

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Dr. Davis here from Vista California…

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a similar condition called Fibromyalgia are 2 very common conditions seen in an upper cervical chiropractic office.  What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?  The Mayo Clinic describes it this way…

“Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest. Although there are many theories about what causes this condition — ranging from viral infections to psychological stress — in most cases the cause is still unknown.  Because its symptoms are difficult to measure, CFS wasn’t widely accepted as a real medical condition for several years. Today, however, doctors and researchers agree that this chronic condition should be taken seriously.”

So if most people get tired they rest and they get more energy.  But if you have chronic fatigue than your batteries don’t recharge the same as other people.  You can lay down for a nap or sleep 8 hours at night and still wake up as tired as before!  How frustrating!

Frequently what we find with patients is Chronic Fatigue will be associated with an undetected brain stem injury.  The Brain Stem is very important for regulating our energy level.  If the brain stem is not functioning the way it was designed you will have a hard time recovering.

When someone has accidents and injuries that have torn loose the connective tissue that holds the spine in place it will allow the spine to breakdown and lock into a stressed position.  The area of the spine that is most frequently affected is the upper neck area because it is the most movable and the most vulnerable to injury.  Once this upper neck area is misaligned it will begin to affect the function of the brain stem.  This brain stem pressure can lead to a variety of problems including dysfunction with the release of cortisol.  Altered cortisol levels can have many different effects on both the mind and the body for more info on that look at our post from a few weeks ago on cortisol and chiropractic here  (https://nuccadoctordavis.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/cortisol-chiropractic-and-the-chronic-stress-response/)

One of the top NUCCA doctors in the world Dr. Marshall Dickholtz Sr. along with a medical doctor and a psychiatrist did some very interesting research several years looking at the connection between the upper cervical spine and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  Here’s what the found when they compared quality of life measurements using a survey called the SF-36 six months after the initial correction to normal subjects:

  • Physical Functioning increased from 58% to 85%!
  • General Health improved from 35% to 55%
  • Vitality improved from 17% to 55%
  • Social Functioning increased from 40% to 70%
  • Mental Health improved from 50% to 70%

In addition both the quality and quantity of sleep improved based on all testing and there was significant decrease in sleep medication usage.  And maybe most remarkable all subjects in the study found a normalization of cortisol levels in the morning and evening readings at 6 months into care!  Amazing improvement!

Here is an example from my office of a person with severe chronic fatigue who was able to get back to a normal life  after beginning care.  Mary was in bed up to 2 days at a time if she did any activity!  If she went to the store and came back she would have to lay down for days!  The last time we heard from Mary she was keeping a schedule that she could never imagine before having her upper cervical injuries corrected.  Here’s Mary story in her own words…

“I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the past 12 years and if I had a busy day it would take me up to two days to recover!  I have also had serious chronic muscle pain, leg pain, headaches, sleep problems an inability to take walks for exercise. 

 The first thing that changed was my energy level…since the first treatment, I began to notice that I only needed to lay down mid-day for a short time to recover…rather than the 2 days that I used to need just to get through the day.  I also noticed my headaches disappeared immediately.  My muscle pain has definitely improved and I use much less prescription pain killers.  My body feels “smooth” or at peace all over after an adjustment…wonderful!

I would encourage anyone to come see Dr. Davis.  Especially anyone like me that has had long standing chronic health issues, don’t believe your body will stay the same and/or continue to deteriorate…there is great hope!!!  The most enjoyable part of Breath of Life is the true, genuine and tender concern for the patients which you experience the moment you first step into the office and it never quits.  Dr. Davis is a true Godsend and I am privileged to have him for my Doctor.”

Mary M.  San Diego CA

If you are struggling with Chronic Fatigue like Mary was there is hope!  Go to www.nuccawellness.com to find out more information and to schedule your appointment today.

Dr. William R. Davis Jr., D.C. is a Carlsbad Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist. He is in private practice in Southern California in the city of Vista. He specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at http://www.nuccawellness.com  

References:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhHNkL-ruYY

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A big wave is breaking in Santa Cruz, California.

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Dr. Davis here from Vista California

Here in Southern California, surfing is a very popular activity. Surfing is great exercise and a lot of fun for millions of Americans but it can really do a number on your spine. One of the most troubling parts of surfing is the fact that you have to keep your neck in extension as you lay on the board to paddle out.  As mentioned before on this blog the most vulnerable positions for your neck to be in are all the way back in extension and all the way to the side in lateral bending.  Most surfers that I see are severely misaligned due to falls or other non-surfing related injuries.  Once that spine is misaligned…putting it into that extreme extension position on a regular basis will lead to increased Degenerative Disc Disease and eventually symptoms.  Some of the most common symptoms surfers experience is back and neck pain, numbness and tingling into the arms and legs and other related symptoms.

There is hope for those that want to surf throughout their lives…the key is alignment.  If the spine is misaligned the degeneration will occur at an increased frequency and quality of life will decrease.  The problems will typically begin in the neck and then translate through the spine until the condition is corrected.  If the spinal problems are corrected and the alignment is maintained throughout life, most people will be able to surf as long as they want to. 

Here is an example of a man whose ability to do one of his favorite activities was greatly affected until he got the problems in his spine corrected.

“When I first came to see Dr. Davis I was having severe lower back pain and it was greatly diminishing my quality of life. I had struggled with it for over 15 years but it had really gotten a lot worse in the past 2 years. Both at work where I have to stand for long periods and when I went surfing which I love to do.

Since beginning care my back pain has subsided enough to not impact anything that I do in life negatively. I can surf without any pain! I can stand for hours without pain at work. Surfing without back pain is a huge blessing!

I was a huge skeptic when I came to Breath of Life, but I figured I had nothing to lose. I gave it a year and I am so glad that I did. I feel so much better than I did a year ago! And I really enjoy knowing that Dr. Davis and I both worship the same awesome God!”

Gary B.   November 2010

Who do know that is like Gary?  Suffering every time they go to do the activity that they love.  Maybe you don’t even have the symptoms yet and just want to make sure that your spine is in a good alignment so that you can continue to do what you want to do throughout your life.  Either way an evaluation of your alignment by a qualified Upper Cervical Chiropractor is in order.

Find out more info at www.nuccawellness.com or call today to arrange your initial evaluation.  If you are not in the San Diego County area go to www.upcspine.org to find a doctor in your area.

Dr. William R. Davis Jr., D.C. is a Carlsbad Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist. He is in private practice in Southern California in the city of Vista. He specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at http://www.nuccawellness.com

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