Can An Unhealthy Spine Affect Your Internal Organs?

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People with a narrow view of chiropractic think that the only conditions chiropractic care can help treat are those that are directly linked to the spine, such as back pain, neck pain and perhaps headaches. It is difficult for them to believe that chiropractic care is an effective therapy for other disorders that are not obviously and directly spine-related.

On the other hand, patients who visit chiropractors for their headaches, back pain, and neck pain who present with other health conditions that are to them not supposedly chiropractic in nature are surprised to see the symptoms of their other conditions relieved or eliminated. Chiropractors do not claim to cure or treat these conditions. They, however, know that many health conditions are symptoms of nerve interference. They understand the spine and the nerves’ relationship to the body’s internal organs. That is why they pay attention to the spine and the nerves that may relate to the condition of the internal organs.

It will be helpful for us to take a look at an “Autonomic Nervous System Chart” or a Merck Chart, visual representations showing the relationship of each element the spine, the nerve system and the body’s organs. The Merck Chart, in particular, also called Hoffman Chart, is developed based upon many years of actual clinical experience. You will be amazed at how chiropractic care can be beneficial in helping treat practically all disorders of the organs of the human body.

Can an Unhealthy Spine Really Affect the Internal Organs?

This is exactly the question that Dr. Henry Windsor, a Doctor of Medicine wanted an answer to, as he questioned chiropractic then. He wanted to confirm whether there is truth to the chiropractors’ claim that by adjusting the vertebrae, they can help relieve conditions such as ulcers, stomach troubles, constipation, menstrual cramps, kidney disease, thyroid conditions, lung, heart and other diseases. He decided to conduct an experiment where he would dissect human and animal cadavers to check if there was any relationship between diseased internal organs, which were determined during autopsy, and the part of the vertebrae and nerves connected to the organs. With the permission of the University of Pennsylvania, he performed his experiments, consisting of a series of three studies wherein he was able to dissect a total of 75 human cadavers 72 cat cadavers. Of these, he found 221 structures that were diseased, aside from the spine. The results from his studies showed an almost 100% correlation between vertebrae minor curvatures and disease of the organs. Here are some of the results, listing the disease categories and the location of the misalignments observed in the vertebrae:

  • Lung disease: Total of 26 cases, all showed misalignments in the upper thoracic area of the spine (upper back)
  • Heart Disease: Total of 20 cases with heart and pericardium conditions, all showed misalignments in the thoracic vertebrae (T1 – T5)
  • Liver disease: Total of 13 cases, all showed misalignments in the mid-thoracic area of the spine (T5 – T9)
  • Stomach disease: Total of 9 cases with stomach conditions, all showed misalignments in the mid-thoracic area of the spine (T5 – T9)
  • Gall bladder: Total of 5 cases with gallstone disease, all showed misalignments in the mid-thoracic area of the spine (T5 – T9)
  • Spleen: Total of 11 cases with spleen disease, all showed misalignments in the mid-thoracic area of the spine (T5 – T9)
  • Pancreas: Total of 3 cases with pancreatic disease, all showed misalignments in the mid-thoracic area of the spine (T5 – T9)
  • Kidney: Total of 17 cases with kidney disease, all showed misalignments in the lower thoracic area of the spine (T10 – T12)
  • Prostate and bladder: Total of 8 cases with prostate and bladder disease, all showed misalignments in the lumbar vertebrae (L1 – L3)
  • Uterus: 2 cases with uterine conditions, showed misalignments in the second lumbar

The findings from Dr. Windsor’s studies were published in “The Medical Times” (November 1921, 49, pages 267 – 271). Since then, other researchers have come up with their studies confirming Dr. Windsor’s discovery. Also, many literatures on medicine at present include many experiments upholding chiropractic’s theory and proving its effectiveness. Studies also abound validating the relationship that exist between the spine and nerves and the internal organs.

It is clear how chiropractic treatment can be effective not only in relieving common spinal disorders like back pain and neck pain but a lot of other disorders of the body’s organs and health issues.


The primary goal for the treatment of herniated disc or more popularly known as slipped disc is to help relieve the pain and symptoms associated with the condition. To be able to achieve this goal, the treatment plan should therefore be individualized for each patient and should consider where the pain is coming from, its severity, the extent the disc has slipped out of position, and the specific symptoms that the patient has. What works for one patient may not necessarily be effective for another patient.

Except in cases where there is imminent serious consequences from nerve root pinching from slipped disc, conservative or non-surgical care is tried first.

Conservative Treatment Options for Slipped Disc

The different conservative approaches for the treatment of slipped disc, which are normally used through the first month to six weeks of pain and discomfort for lumbar slipped disc are:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) – Ibuprofen, COX-2 or naproxen are examples. These are inhibitors for the relief of pain. The usual first step medical doctors advise patient is to rest and take NSAIDs.
  • Oral steroids – They are steroid drugs taken to decrease inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Narcotic pain medications – They are oral drugs that are stronger than over-the-counter treatments taken for the relief of severe pain.
  • Nerve pain medications – These are strong medications like duloxetine or gabapentin that physicians may prescribe.
  • Muscle relaxers – They are prescribed medications to relieve muscle spasms.
  • Epidural injections – They are options to decrease inflammation for the relief of pain.
  • Ice and heat therapies – These methods are used for pain relief.
  • Physical therapy, gentle stretching and exercise – These methods are used to relieve any pressure that may be present on the nerve root. An exercise program that allows stretching and strengthening of the back and the surrounding muscles can typically relieve pain from slipped disc. A physical therapist can recommend exercises for strengthening the back while reducing the slipped disc pain.
  • Chiropractic manipulation

For cervical slipped disc, physicians tend to use conservative methods of treatment for the first two to four weeks before they consider surgical options.

Surgical Treatment for Slipped Disc

If after the typical treatment periods using conservative approach and the pain nor any of the other symptoms from the slipped disc is not improving, the physician may recommend surgical option. Another important consideration a physician will consider surgery as an option is when the slipped disc is affecting muscle function. In cases when a patient’s arms or legs are showing progressive major weakness resulting from a pinched nerve root from a slipped disc, surgery may be timely to cause any neurological progression to stop. The surgery may also help create an optimal condition for the nerve to heal and recover.

Microdiskectomy is the surgical procedure of removing the protruding part of the disc or the damaged disc. Laminectomy the other surgical option is used in more serious cases of slipped disc. Here, an artificial disc may replace the damaged disc or the affected disc may be removed and the vertebrae fused together. Laminectomy improves the stability of the spinal column.

Chiropractic Care for Slipped Disc

Most slipped disc cases work well with chiropractic care. The treatment plan a chiropractor develops may include spinal manipulation or adjustments and other specialized techniques to help ease and address symptoms of slipped disc. Examples of these chiropractic techniques for slipped disc treatment are:

  • Flexion distraction technique – This involves gently stretching the spine, isolating the affected area and flexing the spine. This allows the center portion of the disc to return to its original central position in the disc.
  • Pelvic blocking techniques – This involves the use of cushioned wedges placed under the pelvis and with gentle exercise, allows the separation of the disc and the nerve it may be impinging on.
  • Manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) – This procedure done at a hospital or ambulatory care center, lets a patient’s body be in a relaxed condition through sleeping then allows the chiropractor to perform manipulative treatment of the affected area.

Two cases when a slipped disc patient is not advised chiropractic care treatment are:

  • When the patient has cauda equine syndrome, a condition in which the patient loses control of bowel or bladder, together with a disc injury
  • When the patient has advanced loss of sensation, strength and reflexes or other abnormal neurological conditions.


Chiropractic care is natural, effective, safe and non-invasive unlike most of the other conservative and most especially, surgical approaches to slipped disc treatment.