Neck pain and cerebellar control

April 6, 2011 by
Filed under: Case of the month, Cases, Spinewave Bulletin, Symptoms 

“My most significant problem used to be walking across the road and getting caught out by a car coming faster than anticipated.”

Part of my job is to connect the dots for people, and so I’ve had this one in the archives for a while and thought it opportune to point out the seemingly miraculous implications of an adjustment that we would otherwise gloss over.

At face value one would read this and see: Man has accident; man gets neck pain; man goes to chiropractor; chiropractor fixes neck pain. And the perception that chiropractic is only good for neck or back pain would continue to persist.

Upon closer inspection, over the course of about a year, Warren’s cerebellum was reprogrammed to a level of function that its connection with the brain could perceive speed and timing, anticipate, initiate and recalibrate appropriate movement. Stuff  usually taken for granted until that ability is depreciated and you start having trouble crossing the road!

The cerebellum is important for movement control and plays a particularly crucial role in balance and locomotion. As such, one of the most characteristic signs of cerebellar damage is walking ataxia (see previous cerebellar case here). The cerebellum constitutes only 10% of the total volume of the brain but contains more than half of all its neurons. It’s believed that the cerebellum also plays a role in fine tuning emotion with the limbic cortex. So since the majority of its information input comes from the spine and spinal cord, when the neck is out of whack, people are not always going to behave appropriately and movement is going to be compromised over time.

Neural reprogramming through regular adjusting doesn’t always bring the feel-good factor that massage may do, for instance. But when you look back over time and see how the system is functioning at a completely different level, its effects are longer lasting. The cerebellum has to co-ordinate the flow of information coming in and going out of the brain and make adjustments to the required action, like initiating a sprint across the road. It’s important in maintaining posture, calibrating eye movement and keeping us steady – a super important bit of the brain and one well maintained through good chiropractic care.


I have been seeing Neil for a little under 12 months on a regular basis. I had a car accident in 1986 which gave me nerve problems from a whiplash injury. I had a serious accident three years ago which resulted in a broken neck and damage to the same nerve as in the car accident. I suffered referred pain symptoms as a result of both accidents.

Neil has treated me through spinal adjustments over this time and although there was never any one session when I felt there was a significant change, by the end of last year I noticed significant improvements. I now have better mobility and comfort in my neck. There were certain intersections and round-a-bouts where it was very difficult for me (and I might add unsafe) to turn my head left to check oncoming traffic. This is no longer a significant problem.

I have also over the years suffered lower back pain and loss of mobility due to an old lifting injury and hip replacement. My back feels stronger now and I am less inclined to have “a bad back” after doing gardening or heavy manual work.

As a bonus I can now jog which is something I could not do after my last neck injury. My most significant problem used to be walking across the road and getting caught out by a car coming faster than anticipated. I no longer need to worry about this because I can now move out of the way quicker!

I find the atmosphere at Spinewave a pleasant mix of professionalism and relaxation.

Warren Priest

Interested in a complimentary chat a the practice?

Call Pip or Neil on 09 522 0025

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