Entries in Chiropractors (3)


Chiropractic Neurology: Breakthrough Treatment or Placebo?

ABC News(MARIETTA, Ga.) -- Will Arlen has a traumatic brain injury and is so sensitive to light that he wears sunglasses all the time.

The 17-year-old describes his migraines as like a knife stabbing his brain. His short term memory is shot. He can barely stand up on his own or move his left arm.

The teenager from Exeter, N.H., said his symptoms developed after an illegal hit during a lacrosse game gave him a concussion so severe that it sent him into an 8-month downward spiral. His father, Larry Arlen, said his son used to be an active, outgoing, straight-A student, but they have had to pull him out of school because of his condition.

Will, however, believes Dr. Ted Carrick, a chiropractor who specializes in the brain, holds the key to a miraculous cure for his condition.

Carrick, who has 28 clinics worldwide and sees patients all over the world, practices a therapy he calls chiropractic neurology, a treatment he has been perfecting for 33 years. He rarely grants interviews, but allowed Nightline to be the first American television network to watch the treatment unfold at his clinic at Life University in Marietta, Ga.

He said his treatment involves re-activating pathways in the brain, what scientific circles refer to as neuro-plasticity, by simulating other parts of the body. He is considered the main architect of chiropractic neurology because he pioneered several of the methods used, in part by combining treatments that already exist, as well as developing new treatments.

On average, a week-long therapy costs about $5,000. But Carrick doesn't turn away patients who can't afford to pay.

"We're in the service of humankind, above self," he said.

When hockey superstar Sidney Crosby suffered serious concussions, he praised Carrick for saving his career. But the doctor wouldn't go so far as to say his treatment is a "miracle cure."

"I think miracles are things that happen once in a while," he said. "What we find is that the miracles that we see, we're seeing them frequently, every day so they're not really miracles. What we do is amazing because of what humankind can do."

When Carrick worked with Arlen, he placed him in front of a full-length mirror, and had him do exercises that would trick his mind's eye with a mirror image to re-program his brain. It may seem far-fetched, but the results for Arlen were immediate and he could lift his left arm without help.

Carrick's secret weapon is called the GyroStim, a machine that looks like it belongs to NASA. The patient is strapped into a chair that spins on a double axis, which Carrick said helps stimulate parts of the brain that may be damaged. When Arlen went inside, he said he feels better. "One thing I've noticed is that my breathing feels like it's not as shallow anymore, that's the one thing I noticed before," he said.

Most of Carrick's patients are referred to him by doctors, but his results are often dismissed as a placebo effect, meaning the patients feel better because they believe in his cure. But the doctor denies that's the case.

"If it was placebo, we're doing a pretty darn good job of it," he said. "What we do is that we do things other people do. We don't do anything that is really original in our work. We just combine things that other people have done in a different fashion."

Another patient, Stacey Hubbard, traveled more than 900 miles from Hesston, Kan., to Carrick's clinic to find out why she can't walk more than a few steps without stumbling. A hands-on mother of two, Hubbard said she's barely gotten out of bed for 10 weeks.

"I haven't driven, I haven't been to the grocery store, I haven't left my bedroom," she said. "I had to rely on family and friends, my kids' friends to pick them up and take them to places."

Hubbard said she just woke up one morning after battling an infection and found her world had turned sideways.

"I sat up and I told my husband, 'something's not right,'" she said. "I'm dizzy, everything's crooked. My floor, my bedroom was literally in my eyes sideways."

There are plenty of skeptics who say Carrick's methods do not pass scientific muster, and yet Carrick said he has months-long waiting lists with people desperate to see him for treatment. When he treats Hubbard, he walks her through an exercise where he has her close her eyes and try to relax.

"I look very, very carefully and what's happening with her eyes, with her head, the degree that her pupils are open or closed, and then her ability to track," Carrick said. "We find that if we do a certain motion, and we get a different tracking, this is going to have a good probability of working."

Can Will and Stacey get better with Dr. Carrick's help? Tune into Nightline Friday night at 11:35 p.m. ET to find out what happens when they enter his treatment program.

For more information about Dr. Carrick's treatment program, visit the Carrick Institute website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Spinal Manipulation for Neck Pain Safe?

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Spinal manipulation, a procedure that uses a flow of movement and points along the vertebrae to restore joint motion and realign the spine, is one of the most common treatments for neck pain.  Previous studies suggest between 6 percent to 12 percent of Americans undergo spinal manipulation every year.

But the safety and efficacy of the technique has long been debated by medical experts.

Some evidence suggests that spinal manipulation, which is most often used by chiropractors, can offer some benefit to people who have back pain and some musculoskeletal disorders.

The technique varies in level and intensity, depending on the severity of the ailment, said Keith Overland, a chiropractor and president of the American Chiropractic Association.

However, some medical experts question whether spinal manipulation is a safe and effective technique for patients with neck pain.

Two reviews of the evidence by researchers published Thursday in the British Medical Journal add one more weight on each side for and against spinal manipulation.

In the first review, the authors conclude the technique is "unnecessary and inadvisable."  The review cites studies that have suggested an association between spinal manipulation and more intense injuries, including tearing of the artery, and even stroke.

The studies "provide consistent evidence of an association between neurovascular injury and recent exposure to cervical manipulation," Neil O'Connell, a lecturer at the center for research in rehabilitation at Brunel University in Uxbridge, and his colleagues wrote.

According to Overland, the most common side effect from manipulation is soreness, adding that other more serious side effects are extremely rare.

The second study review suggests there are benefits to the technique, especially when used together with other pain relieving methods, such as exercise.

"We say no to abandoning manipulation and yes to more rigorous research on the benefits and harms of this and other common interventions for neck pain," David Cassidy, a professor in the department of epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, and his colleagues wrote.

According to Dr. Cain Dimon, physician director of the center for pain medicine at William Beaumont Hospitals in Royal Oak, Mich., spinal manipulation may be appropriate only after patients receive a full physical exam to detect the problem and undergo other types of treatments to relieve the pain first.

"I certainly don't dismiss chiropractic manipulation," said Dimon.  "It can certainly help in some cases lower pain."

Overland said it's unlikely that a chiropractor would perform a spinal manipulation without first knowing the exact cause of pain.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Neck Pain: Chiropractors, Exercise Better than Medication, Study Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to neck pain the best medicine is no medicine at all, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, tracked 272 patients with recent-onset neck pain who were treated using three different methods:

  1. Medication
  2. Exercise
  3. A chiropractor

After 12 weeks the patients who used a chiropractor or exercised were more than twice as likely to be pain-free compared to those who relied on medicine.

The patients treated by a chiropractor experienced the highest rate of success, with 32 percent saying they were pain-free, compared to 30 percent of those who exercised. Only 13 percent of patients treated with medication said they no longer experienced pain.

“Doesn’t surprise me a bit,” Dr. Lee Green, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan, told ABC News. “Neck pain is a mechanical problem, and it makes sense that mechanical treatment works better than a chemical one.”

Dr. John Messmer, who specializes in family medicine at Penn State College of Medicine, agrees.

“I always prescribe exercises and/or physical therapy for neck pain,” he wrote. “I also tell patients that the exercises are the treatment and the drugs are for the symptoms.”

The exercises prescribed to patients in the study were simple and designed to be performed at home with the help of instructional photos.

Click Here to See the Neck Exercises

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio