Most people know that chiropractic is an effective way to alleviate a number of pain conditions, but an increasing body of data indicates it can also improve our immune system.

In our office in Reisterstown, MD, we help people with both musculoskeletal problems and overall wellness.

Earlier research has shown that spinal adjustments can improve specific immune responses in both healthy participants and back pain patients. However there have been no major literature review articles of the overall effect of chiropractic on immunity. In a recent presentation at the 9th Chiropractic, Osteopathy, and Physiotherapy Annual Conference in the UK, Jack Neil of the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic analyzed the current research on spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and immune responses.

After examining the research up to January 2012, Neil confirmed that spinal adjustments are associated with a central anti-inflammatory response. Research indicates that SMT may lead to a down regulating of pro-inflammatory cytokines and boost in antibodies involved in the immune response. In addition, SMT may enhance the creation of tiny cells called leukocytes which assist the white blood cells in fighting off a threat. SMT may also affect Natural Killer cells, interleukin-2 activity, TNF-a levels, cortisol, and b-endorphin levels.

The mechanics behind these processes are still unclear, however. There is not sufficient data yet to know whether these inflammatory improvements result in a reduction in symptoms. "Most research to date has focused on asymptomatic patients with short-term improvements. The challenge now is to clinically observe long-term health benefits in symptomatic patients," Neil concluded.

While more investigation is necessary, current evidence indicates that chiropractic adjustments can produce positive improvements in the immune system. These immunological changes may show us why chiropractic can decrease inflammation and pain while promoting overall health.

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