In this study the researchers were looking at the relationship between our autonomic nervous system being adversely affected with a loss of cervical lordosis (curvature). The study also looked at the relationship between cervical pain patterns and sensorimotor control being affected with a loss of cervical lordosis. Below is an excerpt from the research study explaining how the spine alignment has an intimate relationship with both the sensorimotor system as well as the autonomic nervous system.
“Irrespective of participation in sports, the cervical spine proprioceptive afferentation system is considered a major component of sensorimotor control.8 An intimate connection exists among afferent input from the proprioceptive, visual, and vestibular systems and a stable upright posture of the head and neck.8 Similarly, the abundance of mechanoreceptors in the cervical muscles, ligaments, and discs plays an important role, providing the necessary neurophysiological input in a feed-forward and feedback system for sensorimotor control via connections to the vestibular, visual, and central nervous systems.8 Although the effects of autonomic system activity on musculoskeletal function have been studied extensively,10 little research supports the idea that the autonomic nervous system is intimately responsive to changes in the afferent articular input due to joint dysfunction.11 The assumption that restoring normal posture and cervical spine alignment is necessary for a better afferentation process has preliminary supporting evidence.12,13“
The study was followed for a 10 week period of chiropractic care with structural therapies performed at each visit. Then there was a post examination done directly after the care as well as at a 1 year follow up appointment. 110 participants were followed for the duration of this study. Improvement in cervical lordosis and reduction in AHT distance using the Denneroll extension traction orthotic device had positive effects on pain, disability, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, and sensorimotor control. These results have important implications for the assessment and rehabilitation of patients.
This study helps to prove that when we restore normal cervical curvature that we can have a massive reach to human body function outside of just pain and dysfunction. Our sensorimotor system is vitally important for every day interaction with our daily activities as well as tasks that we need to perform throughout the day. In order to take care of ourselves and perform everyday tasks we need proper sensorimotor input to the brain. The other important finding of this study involves the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This ANS controls organ function in our body but also how the body responds to stimulus in our everyday life. The autonomic nervous system is a component of the peripheral nervous system that regulates involuntary physiologic processes including heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, digestion, and sexual arousal. It contains three anatomically distinct divisions: sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric. The human body needs to be able to actively change between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system quickly and efficiently multiple times throughout the day to ensure proper body functioning. If it cannot do this task then we will start to see breakdowns happening. For example: if the gut is stuck in a sympathetic drive then we are going to have decreased motility (movement) of food through the digestive system thus leading to constipation and decreased absorption of nutrients. The downfall is that if the body is constantly stressed, not dealing with stressors properly or facing major damage, then the ability to switch properly is going to be negatively affected. Thus this study is proving that above just the typical spinal dysfunction we can see, the cervical curvature plays a pivotal role in ANS functioning. Another reason why our office works not only on making people function better but also the aspect of long term health through spinal structure stability.