What is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is a brain disorder that leads to movement impairment developing in the patient. While there are many traditional medical treatments that might be sought in order to manage symptoms, chiropractic can be a natural, alternative care option for some. With the latter treatment option, patients are very unlikely to experience potentially dangerous side effects from chiropractic care when compared to what patients could experience with some traditional medical treatment options.
Parkinson’s Disease, also known as PD or “shaking palsy”, is a disorder of the brain that leads to movement and coordination problems, as well as tremors. These movement aberrations are completely involuntary and often inconveniencing to the patient’s lifestyle. PD is often found in those over the age of 50, but it can affect younger adults. It tends to run in families, and it is caused by the destruction of the nerve cells that produce dopamine. The brain requires dopamine for it to properly send messages. Parkinsons disease is progressive, and it is unknown why those brain cells become damaged.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease may start gradually. But over time they change from stiffness and slowness to difficulty breathing and swallowing, flat affect (no facial expression), muscle pains and movement problems (loss of fine motor functioning, slow movement, difficulty starting motions, rigidity), anxiety, stress, dementia, depression, hallucinations, and other cognitive problems. The most common symptoms associated with PD are the tremors, or shaking. Typically, these are seen in the limbs and head. They increase in intensity when the patient has become fatigued or stressed.1
Medications are meant to manage symptoms, as there are, so far, no known cures for PD. In general, the drugs are meant to adjust the levels of dopamine in the brain. But they wear off over time. Patients will end up taking more medication, at higher doses, more often. This, in addition to the side effects that could come with taking these medications, adds exponentially to the medical bills, which then becomes another condition-aggravating stressor in the patient’s life. The side effects of PD drugs can include nausea, hallucinations, diarrhea, vomiting, and delirium. Because PD is a progressive disease, patients may still end up with “stooped posture, frozen movements, and speech difficulties”, problems which do not necessarily respond positively to treatments. L-dopa is a common PD drug. There are others to manage tremors, cognitive difficulties, mood disorders, pain, and sleep issues.
Patients typically will make “lifestyle changes”, including nutrition and exercise adjustments, and participating in physical therapy. They may require assistive devices and adjustments to their home’s physical environment. Those who live with the patient will also learn how to make the patient’s condition more comfortable. Some patients may undergo surgery, with varying degrees of invasiveness, in an attempt to alleviate symptoms. Surgical options include deep brain stimulation, tissue destruction in the brain, and stem cell transplants. Surgery, just like medications, could come with serious side effects that leave the patient in a worsened physical state when compared to their pre-surgical state.2
Some recent research discovered that there may be “a causal link between trauma-induced upper cervical injury and disease onset…IUCCA protocol may arrest and reverse the progression of…PD.”3 Other research shows promise for the effectiveness of chiropractic manipulations in reducing symptoms and subluxations.4 Patients who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease can have their “quality of life” improved by chiropractic care.
Study on the Effectiveness of the Atlas Orthogonal
In one case study, a 63-year-old male complaining of tremors, mid-back pain, and anxiety, was treated for the subluxations (especially at the “level of the top bone in the neck, the atlas”). The results documented after chiropractic treatment were increased energy, cessation of the mid back pain, and improvement in the tremors.
“Improvement of the Atlas alignment was associated with reduction of most of his Parkinson’s symptoms”.5
The Atlas Orthogonal is a technique that a chiropractor might use in the adjustment and realignment of the Atlas, though there is a hands-on way of performing the same manipulation. The technique utilizes not physical manipulation but instead a device that emits an all but completely imperceptible impulse to realign the Atlas.6
Exercises for Parkinsons Disease
The chiropractor could also recommend exercises for the patient to try at home to maintain wellness in between visits. Aerobic exercises are performed to increase the delivery of oxygen within the body and assist neurotransmitters in keeping the heart, lungs, and nervous system healthy. Patients with PD are often found to benefit from exercises that feature changes in tempo, activity, or direction, as these promote the improvement of the patient’s ability to shift between activities or multitask. Rhythmic activities, “such as dancing, skipping and cycling” are also encouraged.
Walking, swimming, hiking, and aerobics are just a few activities that the patient could do both alone and with friends or a class. Anyone who engages in exercise should switch up their routine between rhythmic, repetitive movements and “random practice” exercise. These exercises are meant to relieve stiffness, reduce depression, and improve mobility, balance, posture, and gait. Natural symptom relief and quality of life improvements are the easiest treatments that a PD patient can try.7
1, 2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001762/