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Chiropractic Procedures to Treat High Blood Pressure

Woman having neck massage
With 1 in every 3 adults in the U.S. suffering from hypertension, it's important to look at the effectiveness of the various treatments available for controlling high blood pressure. If you are looking for ways to lower your blood pressure in addition to your medication, then chiropractic care may be a non-pharmaceutical treatment option for you to consider.

What Research Suggests

Some research suggests that a particular chiropractic adjustment may lower high blood pressure. The adjustment involves realigning the C-1 vertebra — also known as the Atlas vertebra — with the spine. The Atlas bone is one of the two upper cervical vertebrae located at the top of the spinal column. Together with the second vertebra — known as the axis — the Atlas allows for range of motion of your head.

The findings of one study showed that individuals with early-stage high blood pressure who underwent chiropractic manipulation of the upper cervical region had lower blood pressure than individuals who received a placebo-effect treatment. Individuals participating in the pilot study saw a drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure following several weeks of chiropractic care.

The study focused on the use of a procedure that adjusts the Atlas vertebra, which is located at the base of the brain. If the vertebra becomes pinched and locked in a position that’s even just a little out of alignment, that misalignment can upset some of the control centers of the brain.

Before applying manipulation to the vertebra, a chiropractor takes measurements to determine the alignment of your Atlas vertebra. He or she then manually manipulates the vertebra to gently slide it back into the proper position.

Although it’s unknown why this type of manipulation may help lower blood pressure, some researchers speculate that injury to the Atlas vertebra affects blood flow in the arteries at the base of the skull. Realignment of the vertebra restores normal blood flow to those arteries, lowering blood pressure. Dilation of blood vessels allows blood to flow more easily so that your heart doesn't need to work as hard.

How Other Factors May Play a Role

Another possibility for how chiropractic treatment lowers blood pressure involves adjustments of neck bones and the lower back. Manual adjustment and manipulation of the spine stimulate reflexes of the nervous system, which can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

Physiological stress on the spine can interfere with the function of the central nervous system. This puts stress on the autonomic nervous system, which regulates body functions, including your heart and respiratory rates. When the autonomic nervous system isn't working properly, it can cause an increase in your blood pressure.

The use of chiropractic adjustments to relieve the pain associated with injuries may also help lower blood pressure. Pain and the high levels of stress that often accompany unmanaged chronic pain can contribute to high blood pressure.
When you're under stress, your body releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline — hormones that make your blood vessels constrict and heart beat faster when they are released into the bloodstream. Your blood pressure elevates as constricted blood vessels press blood against the walls of the arteries, increasing the pressure.

It's uncertain whether stress itself is a risk factor for heart disease or leads to other risk factors, such as high blood pressure. However, whatever the case, relieving musculoskeletal pain related to injury or illness with chiropractic adjustment can contribute to healthy blood pressure and a healthy heart.

If you have high blood pressure and wonder if you might be a candidate for chiropractic adjustments to treat hypertension, then give the staff at Corner Chiropractic Center a call. Not everyone with hypertension has lower blood pressure following the realignment of the C-1 vertebra. However, if you've suffered a previous neck or head trauma, then chiropractic manipulation of the neck region may help you.