March might be known for its college basketball madness, but March is also Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a condition in which there is a loss of the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). More than 2.1 million people are affected by MS worldwide. The name multiple sclerosis refers to the scars tissue produced mainly in the white matter of the brain and spinal cord.
Early symptoms of MS include paresthesias (numbness/tingling in extremities), optic neuritis (vision loss), motor loss in the limbs and cerebellar incoordination (balance loss). Symptoms most often manifest differently in each person and in severities; patterns of symptom relapse and remission are common. In most cases, as the condition progresses, remissions become less frequent. The end stage of MS often can include ataxia (inability to coordinate voluntary movement), incontinence, paraplegia, and mental dysfunction due to widespread cerebral and spinal cord demyelination.
While medical science has not determined the exact cause of MS, recent research is pointing towards a possible trauma-induced origin for MS. Evidence supports that trauma (in particular mild concussive injury to the head, neck or upper back) increases the risk of MS onset and/or formation of MS lesions. Following the trauma, MS symptoms can take months or years to develop.
When a concussive trauma or force occurs in the head, neck or upper back region, it can cause the two top bones of the neck to be torqued out of their normal alignment and put pressure on the brainstem and surrounding tissues. This is called a vertebral subluxation. The brainstem is the part of the nerve system that connects the brain above to the rest of the spinal cord and body below. At the brainstem, 400 trillion myelin covered nerve fibers travel off to innervate and control every organ, gland and tissue in the body. With this torquing like injury to the two top bones (atlas and axis), increased pressure is put on the brainstem and affects its ability to send out functional information in a controlled manner. This interference between the brain above and the body below can cause amiscommunication to occur.
MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other effectively. The brainstem is the connection area between these two areas. In MS, the body's own immune system attacks and damages the myelin due to this miscommunication. When myelin is lost, the nerve fibers can no longer effectively conduct signals. The brainstem communicates to the rest of the body by a mental impulse which sends functional information down the 400 trillion nerve fibers. This mental impulse controls every movement we make, everything we sense/feel, regulate every body function and relate us to the outside world.
The purpose of care at OHIO Specific Chiropractic is to reduce the vertebral subluxation; thereby reducing interference to the brainstem and spinal cord that can trigger neurological dysfunction that can result in a condition such as MS. While many MS sufferers recall specific traumas such as head injuries, auto accidents or falls, some do not. An upper cervical specific examination utilizing precision-aligned spinographs and K4 thermoscribe instrumentation is necessary in each individual's case to assess whether a vertebral subluxation is present and whether care can be achieved.