Integrative Spinal Research (a collaboration between chiropractors and mainstream medicine!).

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Hi everyone!  So… this is really cool.

You know how I’ve been saying for a while that I think the chiropractic profession has something to offer, but I wish they were more closely aligned with mainstream medicine?

Well… here is a great example of exactly that.  (This is another post that’s for me and for you, as I like to take notes on things for my future career!).

So… what I’m taking about is the Integrative Spinal Research program, being conducted at the Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland.

The group’s description reads:

“…researchers, physicians, developers and industry collaborate in order to alleviate and to resolve the problems of patients suffering from musculoskeletal conditions.

The ISR group combines multiple medical disciplines (chiropractic medicine, physiotherapy, molecular biology, movement sciences and neuroscience) with the aim to investigate the multifaceted mechanisms of acute and chronic back pain.”

What this means is that chiropractors are collaborating with physical therapists and other scientific researchers from diverse areas, in order to investigate the various causes of back pain.

These causes can range:

“…from genetic mechanisms and biomechanical aspects to the cortical representation of the spine and its adaptions due to recurrent pain – from physical and psychological risk factors to clinical outcome studies.”

We can unpack this a little bit too: “genetic mechanisms,” of course, is probably pretty straightforward.

“Biomechanical aspects” would have to do with what’s physically going on in our spine, nerves, and muscles– do we have a muscle spasm, a herniated disc, or what?

“Cortical representation” has to do with how our brain perceives the spine, and the body in general.  I talk about this more on Sunlight in Winter, but the experience of pain can actually change our brain, and how we experience injury.

Over time, pain can cause our sensation and awareness of a part of our body to become less precise– we may originally have felt pain in one small area, but now it’s our whole back that hurts, and hurts a lot.  This can often have more to do with what’s happening in our nervous system than what’s actually happening in our back.  So that’s what these studies are looking at.

You can check out some of the studies the group has done here.  

Looking at the titles, as well as the names of the journals where the articles were published, gives you a sense of some of the work they have done.

It’s important to note that all of the articles are peer-reviewed– meaning that other researchers and academics, who weren’t involved in any of the studies, critically examined them to determine whether or not they met certain standards before publishing.

Overall, I thought this was super cool.

I have experienced a lot of pain relief from chiropractic adjustments over the years, and I do believe that there are some chiropractors out there who are quite skilled at identifying slight postural imbalances in the spine that might not be pathological enough for mainstream medicine to identify, but which can cause pain.

However, my own personal experience has also led me to believe that chiropractic adjustments:

However, I’ve always wished that mainstream medicine could examine the chiropractic profession in a more in-depth way, because at the same time, I’ve always wished my physical therapist would know what I was talking about when I described the chiropractic adjustments that helped me.  (For example, I received a lot of pain relief when my chiropractor said he was adjusting my lumbar vertebrae).

So… I just wanted to be sure to pass this along to you.

It’s a good reminder that, wherever we are, the current medical model is not the only possible one in existence.  (For example, I’ve never heard of such research being conducted at a major medical school in the US.  To my knowledge, chiropractic schools are always separate from medical schools).

So it’s a good reminder to all of us to keep our eyes and ears open, and to never give up hope.  Sometimes the possibilities that are out there are way more than what we imagine.

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