According to the case study, a 4-year-old female with Insulin-Dependent Type I Diabetes presented for a chiropractic evaluation. Initial examination of the child revealed postural deviations and vertebral subluxations in the cervical, thoracic, and pelvic regions. She was seen a total of 24 visits with chiropractic adjustments to the spine administered to reduce vertebral subluxations. There was a significant decrease in hemoglobin A1C levels which resulted in a lessening of insulin administration.
“Research is revealing that minor disturbances to spinal alignment and function may be a factor in a number of disorders. These spinal disturbances lead to nerve interference and can result in a host of disorders because the body’s homeostatic mechanism is thrown off” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. Other chiropractic researchers have reported on similar results.
“It makes a lot of sense when you think about it” continued McCoy “If you damage or compress or otherwise interfere with the neurological structures in the spine this can have far reaching implications on the functioning of the body. Through research reports like this we are finding that correcting the misalignments or abnormal motion associated with these spinal problems reduces the nerve interference and people experience improvement. In this study it was a child who had diabetes.”
As pointed out in the research paper many people worldwide are affected by Type I Diabetes, including 22 million adults and 0.4 million children. Type I diabetes mellitus results from beta cell destruction in the pancreas, usually leading to absolute deficiency in insulin. This chronic autoimmune disease requires self-management and medical care to reduce the risk of long-term complications.
Intense monitoring of blood sugar and continuous insulin therapy is required, especially in children. This is important because keeping blood sugar levels low helps prevent or delay chronic complications. Glycemic control in type I diabetes is a complex and demanding challenge day to day due to the need for frequent self-monitoring and regular adjustments in insulin dosing. These challenges have a substantial impact on quality of life and also on the healthcare costs needed for recommended treatment.
“Finding the cause and or contributing factors of the diabetes and reducing those risks and contributing factors is a much better strategy” according to McCoy. One such risk is thought to be spinal misalignments and/or abnormal motion of the spine, termed vertebral subluxations by chiropractors, which result in structural and neurological interference to the spine and nerve system. It is this interference that may cause a cascade of neuroendocrine events that lead to abnormal endocrine function. The theory is that once those spinal distortions are corrected the body is better able to balance its physiology.
The four year old child in the study was brought to a chiropractor by her parents with a pre-existing diagnosis of insulin-dependent type I diabetes. The condition was discovered when she was 2 years old and her hemoglobin A1C was 7.2%. Frequent urination and excessive thirst were the warning signs which prompted the patient’s mother to call the pediatrician and have a blood glucose test. Within 6 months of diagnosis, the patient was put on insulin pump. Her blood sugar was checked on average six times per day. The patient’s mother reported that at the time of her daughter’s diagnosis, before chiropractic care, she checked her daughter’s blood glucose levels 3-4 times per night.
During the course of treatment, the patient experienced a decrease in hemoglobin A1C, going from 7.2% to 6.5%. She also had a decrease in the amount of insulin used each day. She went from needing 15 units of insulin a day to 11 units. Intensive treatment of type I diabetes often does not succeed in achieving target A1C levels less than 7.0%. Her mother reported that since starting chiropractic care, her daughter’s blood sugar levels had been under much better control. She stated chiropractic has allowed the blood sugar levels to stay within a normal range.
In addition, the mother reported that the child was sleeping better at night due to stable blood sugar levels. Her mother was also sleeping better as she no longer needed to wake her up in the middle of the night to check blood sugar levels as often. The authors call for further study in a controlled environment.