Updated: Jun 22
An interesting case of why your thyroid dysfunction may have nothing to do with your thyroid.
So there is an almost identical type of practice member I see on a regular basis. Of course, each one has their own unique conditions, problems, and history of how they got to the point of where they are today. These practice members are middle aged females, who have often had children, but not always. They usually have the stereotypical neck pain, shoulder pain and stiffness, and low back pain that many people see Chiropractors for. But what they don’t realize is their daily tension headaches, jaw pain, regular monthly “menstrual migraines”, and thyroid dysfunction (typically hypothyroidism, but sometimes hyperthyroidism) are also connected to their spine. She never would have thought her thyroid symptoms which include:
· Nervousness and anxiety
· Elevated blood pressure
· Weight gain
· Severe Fatigue
· Muscle weakness
…to name a few, could possibly be related to her spinal health and nervous system function.
She’s been struggling with them for so long she is not sure which symptoms started when, or if they are just “normal” for her, and sadly has just “learned to live with it”.
She has also been told because of her thyroid dysfunction she will have to take prescription medication for the rest of her life, most often Levothyroxine. Besides being extremely ineffective at staving off the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, the drug itself also causes:
Irritability, menstrual changes, nausea, pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck sweating, swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat, or tongue, tightness in the chest tremors
…just to name a few. There are few dozen more you can read about here.(1)
Now, I’m not saying there are not organic thyroid conditions that are genetic or related to a legitimate hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid dysfunction. The real trick is identifying what the root cause is, not just the symptoms and lab results, because most of these women (if not all), regardless of cause or history have had lab testing to confirm their diagnosis.
However, as a Neurologically Based Corrective Care Chiropractor I look for and see things a bit differently then a typical medical doctor. Not that they are on the wrong path themselves, they are only using the tools they have, drugs and surgery, and they are just looking at things from a different lens than myself and chiropractor like me.
One thing that is not different between the two professions is anatomy and physiology, this is essentially identical in all human beings. Human anatomy shows us that the nerve supply to the thyroid gland is derived from the superior, middle and inferior cervical sympathetic ganglia. These are specialized pathways that originate in the thoracic and cervical spine. One of the top physiology and internal medicine textbooks states that “with few exceptions, hormone deficiency or hormone excess is the result of pathologic manifestations in the neural pathways that supply the hypothalamus.”(2) This is the part of the brain that essentially connects your spinal cord and brain, think of it like a circuit breaker, because almost all signals to and from the brain to the body have to pass though the hypothalamus.
Now as chiropractic student I always wondered how Chiropractors could help with hormones, and hormone dysfunctions like Hypothyroidism, and Hyperthyroidism since I had heard of doctors seeing changes in their patient’s hormone profiles, with no change in the patients care other than spinal adjustments. After doing some research I found that studies have shown that “fifty percent of hyperthyroid patients have damage to the pathways in their nervous system.”(3) (emphasis mine)
I also found through my studies that “spinal cord trauma produces a major alteration in thyroid function.”(4) This fact fascinated me as I got into practice, as case after case of females with a history of some sort of spinal trauma, anything from a motor vehicle accident, or the more repetitive trauma like a hairstylist or receptionist sustain from their occupational stresses, had thyroid conditions.
It seems like a 50:50 chance if not 100% of the time, I find a woman has degeneration of the cervical spine and discs, as well structural shifts away from normal anatomical positioning and posture, and she also suffers from a thyroid disorder. This makes perfect sense to me because it says right in the peer reviewed literature that “the metabolic responses to spinal cord stress involve every organ and tissue of the body and conditions of traumatic stress will be associated with changes in serum thyroid.”(5) Even Dr. Lee, a medical doctor found in his research that “hyperfunctional or hypofunctional neurons along a neural chain prevent normal nerve transmission causing disturbances in the homeostasis of the cells, tissues and organs.”(6)
So maybe now you are thinking ‘I have neck pain and chronic fatigue are the two connected?’ or maybe you have been given a thyroid diagnosis, and have neck pain, but never made the connection between the two. With Neurologically Based Corrective Chiropractic Care we can see great changes to spinal structure, alignment and the resulting symptoms a patient is experiencing. While we can never take away the trauma your spine may have sustained, we can help correct abnormal structural shifts of the spine and give your body the best fighting chance possible to functional optimally. Check out this great before and after spinal correction of the neck A.K.A cervical spine. This woman started care about 5 weeks ago, we have yet to see the change in her lab work, but we will find out at her semi-annual endocrinologist appointment. I do know that she no longer suffers from her chronic pain, her energy levels have skyrocketed, and her hormonal symptoms like menstrual irregularity and pains, acne and irritability have already noticeably improved. Who knew it was connected to her spine?
(1) Levothyroxine (oral Route) Side Effects https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/levothyroxine-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20072133
(2) HARRISON’S PRINCIPLES OF INTERNAL MED. 14th Ed. New York; McGraw-Hill
(3) ENDOCRINOLOGY Klavinskis L. 122:567, 1988.
(4) Tator, C, "The effect of acute spinal cord compression injury on thyroid function" Surgical Neurol. Jul;18(1):64-8 (82)
(5) INT. J. HEALTH SCIENCE 2014; 3(2): 87-90
(6) T.N. Lee, M.D. "Thalamic Neron Theory, Medical Hypothesis", Nov (95) 285-302