Chiropractors have long known that ‘cracking’ the neck to combat pain and stiffness can also lower blood pressure. University of Leeds scientists’ recent findings indicate that treatment for a stiff neck can not only lower blood pressure, but also heart rate and breathing. A team led by Professor Jim Deuchars examined pathways between the neck and the brain to determine how neck muscles could play a role in lowering blood pressure.
Their study, which appears in the Journal of Neuroscience, provides the first evidence for a link between treatment for a stiff neck and brain regions which control body functions such as breathing and blood pressure. “Cells in the area that receive neck signals jumped out at us when we labelled sections with particular markers. We wanted to know how these cells were organized and the other brain regions to which they were connected,” Deuchars said. The team found a link between these cells and the nucleus tractus solitarius, an area of the brain that is pivotal in control of autonomic functions—body functions under unconscious control.
They found that nervous signals from the neck could play a role in ensuring adequate blood supply is maintained to the brain. Previous reports indicate that treatment of the neck region helps to reduce blood pressure in some people.
Acupuncture can be effective in reducing chronic neck pain, according to a recent systematic review of research literature completed by Cochrane review authors to determine whether there is evidence that acupuncture is effective in treating neck disorders due to whiplash, muscle strain and other causes. Acupuncture can minimize neck pain, but there is no cure for the musculoskeletal system disorder. For some individuals, acupuncture may be the best treatment, while different combined therapies may work best for others.
Acupuncture & Massage College’s Masters of Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs prepare graduates for careers as acupuncture physicians and massage therapists. For program information contact Joe Calareso and for treatmenbt contact Dr. Richard Browne at (305) 595-9500.