Vertebrobasilar Ischemia and Spinal Manipulation

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Vertebrobasilar Ischemia and  Spinal Manipulation

Thomas W Jensen

Jensen Chiropractic Clinic, LTD,
2002 East Fifth Street,
Sterling, IL 61081, USA


OBJECTIVE:   To examine cerebral arterial blood flow in 2 patients exhibiting signs of vertebrobasilar arterial ischemia (VBI) before and after spinal manipulative therapy.

CLINICAL FEATURES:   Two patients had a repetitive/resting tremor, one from a spastic torticollis with the onset immediately after self-manipulation by the patient 6 months earlier, and the second one with a generalized resting tremor, hip clonus, dizziness, and presyncope. The diagnosis of vertebrobasilar ischemia was established by continuous wave Doppler ultrasound and physical examination.

INTERVENTION AND OUTCOME:   Nonrotary cervical manipulation and diversified technique to the thoracic spine were performed. In the first patient, the spastic tremor improved by 80%. The repeat Doppler performed 13 months later showed an improvement in the arterial flow in the right external carotid artery peak flow from 0.7 kHz to 1.75 kHz. In the second patient, the resting tremor diminished in 4 days, with the right common carotid artery peak systolic flow improving from 1.0 kHz to 1.9 kHz and the left vertebral artery flow improving from 0.175 kHz to 0.5 kHz. The symptoms of VBI and objective Doppler findings improved following spinal manipulation. Both cases had impaired vertebral arterial flow.

CONCLUSIONS:   Spinal manipulation may have a normalizing effect on the sympathetic nervous system, allowing for a change in vasospastic cerebral vascular arteries.