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Case Studies: Parkinson's Disease

Please note: Case studies summarizing patientsí responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.

Male, Age 53, Parkinson's Disease

This 53-year-old male described an incident in his early 30's when he was choked by an attacker. He stated that his neck was squeezed very hard for 5-10 seconds and that it was sore for 2-3 weeks. He also stated that he started noticing a "grinding" sound in his neck shortly thereafter and then noticed a gradual increase in pain and stiffness in his neck. His health generally began to decline after this attack and his first Parkinson's symptoms appeared five years later. He was eventually diagnosed with PD at age 42. He immediately began Parkinson's medications and had to increase dosages as his condition declined. At the time of his initial upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, his most pronounced symptoms were tremor, muscle rigidity, loss of balance, fixed facial expression, slowed movement, numbness in his arms, spinal pain, cognitive difficulty, and foot dragging.

During his evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which was probably caused by the choking incident, as no other traumas were reported. He began a course of treatment to stabilize his neck and over a 4-month period, he experienced the following improvements: less rigidity and improved movement of his limbs, better sleeping and energy, improved mood, reduction in spinal pain, less tremor, improvement strength and balance in his gait, better posture and ability to sit up straight, better appetite, and a general feeling of well being. Because of his improvements, he began an exercise program to work on his strength, coordination, posture, and cardiovascular health.

Male, Age 62, Parkinson's Disease

This 62-year-old male was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and began taking Parkinson's medications approximately four months before seeking help from upper cervical care. He recalled experiencing Parkinson's symptoms two years prior to his diagnosis. At his initial upper cervical chiropractic examination, his most severe symptoms included depression, stooped posture, loss of energy/motivation, loss of balance, dragging leg, walking difficulty, loss of arm swing, resting tremor, constipation, severe upper back pain, and loss of his voice. His voice loss was especially hard on him because he enjoyed singing in his barbarshop group and had lost much of his singing range and stamina.

During his initial examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. When questioned as to his past history of traumas to his head/neck that could have caused the neck injury, he recalled an auto accident 2 1/2 years prior in which his car was hit from the side at approximately 20 mph. In addition, he recalled several traumas while playing hockey and football during high school.

Within the first 30 days of upper cervical care, this patient noticed a lessening in his back pain, an increase in the strength of his voice, and better energy, motivation, and a happier mood. After two more months of upper cervical care, he reported that all back pain was absent; his voice strength had completely returned; his energy level, mood, motivation, and stamina were all greatly increased; tremors were decreased; his leg no longer dragged; he walked normally; his balance was improved in that he no longer had falls; and constipation was absent. At his 5-month check-up appointment, a reevaluation of all of his Parkinson's symptoms was performed and compared to his original examination five months earlier. He showed improvement of greater than 50% with no further progression of Parkinson's symptoms. Plus, he was continuing to improve.

Male, Age 60, Parkinson's Disease

This 60-year-old male first experienced Parkinson's disease symptoms at age 53 when his left fifth finger began to twitch. His neurologist diagnosed his with PD and prescribed medications including Sinemet, Eldepryl, and Mirapex. Every six months, his neurologist monitored his condition and increased medication dosages as his condition worsened. Three years after the diagnosis, this patient's left leg became rigid, causing difficulty with walking. Most of the progression of PD symptoms occurred in the last eighteen months before upper cervical chiropractic treatment.

During his initial spinal examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. The patient recalled several possibilities for the cause of the neck injury, including football concussions and a helicopter crash.

By the end of the second week of upper cervical care, the subject reported greater range of motion in his neck, improved sleep, better energy, and decreased stiffness in his body overall. After one month of care, the patient reported that his most noticeable improvements included improved sleep and increased energy. He was more alert and no longer felt tired or depressed. He had improved range of motion in his neck, better balance, improved hand and leg agility, and less rigidity overall. His left leg no longer dragged and his walking improved. He routinely reported "feeling great." Mental clarity, handwriting, turning in bed, and arising from a chair also improved. During the third month of care, the subject reported that his greatest improvement was the return of his balance, which enabled him to resume riding a bike. He also noted that his wife, daughter, son, friends, and neighbors all noticed a marked improvement in his physical and mental health. After six months of care, the patient reported maintenance of his previous improvements and no deterioration of his condition. He also reported a continued gradual increase in energy level and strength in his body, as well as a continued reduction in muscle and joint stiffness. Consequently, between months eight and nine, he enlisted a personal trainer's help and began an exercise program including cardiovascular and weight training three times per week.

Male, Age 59, Parkinson's Disease

This 59-year-old male first experienced Parkinson's symptoms one year prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. The symptoms began with twitching in his 3rd, 4th, and 5th fingers of his left hand. The twitching happened daily while his hand was at rest. He also noticed that his handwriting had become small; he experienced several headaches per month; pain occassionally shot down his legs; and he noticed stiffness in his neck as he turned towards the left.

During his initial examination, an upper cervical injury was discovered. As a skier for the past 15 years, he recalled several skiing falls that could have caused his upper neck injury. After undergoing upper cervical care, all headaches, neck stiffness, and leg pains were absent. The twitches diminshed and he suffered no further worsening of Parkinson's disease.

Male, Age 54, Parkinson's Disease

This 54-year-old male was involved in a severe auto accident 15 years prior in which he was hit from the side, causing his car to rollover. After the accident, he wore a neck brace for several weeks due to neck pain and also began suffering from headaches. Between six months and one year after the accident, he began experiencing mood swings, depression, continued neck pain/stiffness, and some twitching in his fingers. He also complained that he felt his head was "tilting" on top of his neck and noticed the deviation in the mirror.

At the time of his initial upper cervical chiropractic evaluation (15 years after his accident) his Parkinson's symptoms had become severe; he required large doses of medications to be able to function; and consequently had been unable to work for many years. His most severe symptoms included extreme depression; neck and low back pain; frequent headaches; insomnia; and severe left-sided tremors and stiffness. His left hand tremors were so severe that he sat on his hand to control the severe tremoring. During his upper cervical chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered, which most likely stemmed from the rollover auto accident.

During his first month of upper cervical care, he noticed his mood improve to where he no longer required anti-depressant medications; he reported improved sleep; and his low back pain was absent. He also felt the neck pain and headaches diminish and remarked that his head felt "straighter" upon his neck. In addition, he noticed his tremors and other Parkinson's symptoms lessen. Several months later, he felt well enough to return to work part-time.

Female, Age 65, Parkinson's Disease

This 65-year-old female first experienced Parkinson's symptoms four years prior. The symptoms began four weeks after an auto accident. During the accident in which she was traveling in a van, the van stopped short and catapulted her head-first into the van's metal frame. Four weeks after the accident, tremors began in her right hand and right foot.

During her initial chiropractic evaluation (4 years after her accident), her Parkinson's symptoms included right-sided tremors; neck soreness; difficulty with handwriting; and pain in her left toes. During her first month of upper cervical care, her neck soreness diminshed; all tremoring in her leg was absent; her left hand tremors improved so that she could resume writing; and all foot pain disappeared. No further progression of Parkinson's disease occurred.

Female, Age 60, Parkinson's Disease

This 60-year-old female first experienced Parkinson's symptoms approximately 3 years prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. Her symptoms began on the right side of her body, with tremors in her right hand and right leg, as well as weakness and instability during walking. She also complained of trouble with mental alertness and fatigue and described how she yawned uncontrollably. Other complaints included burning neck pain; weakening in her voice; electrical current sensations in her feet; cramping in her right hand; dizzy spells; and bilateral ankle swelling.

During her initial chiropractic evaluation, an upper cervical injury was discovered. When questioned about traumas in her past that could have caused the neck injury, she recalled an auto accident six months prior to the onset of her initial Parkinson's symptoms. After the accident, she immediately experienced neck soreness, and soon experienced the first tremors in her right side.

Within the first two months of upper cervical care, all of her symptoms improved. She noticed lessening of her neck pain; increased strength in her legs and improved walking; improvement of her right-sided tremors; a stronger voice; absence of dizzy spells; and better mental concentration. Even her work colleagues noticed the improvements.

Male, Age 67, Parkinson's Disease

This 67-year-old male experienced his first Parkinson's symptoms four years prior to his initial chiropractic visit. Approximately 18 years prior to his initial visit, he sustained an injury to his head from an accident. One year after the accident, a seizure disorder began. Terrible back pain also began after the accident, and he underwent 2 different back surgeries. The first surgery occurred 3 years prior to his PD diagnosis, and the second surgery occurred 1 year after his diagnosis. Despite, the surgeries, the spinal pain continued, and radiated strongly into his knees and thighs. He also complained of energy loss and fatigue.

During his initial upper cervical chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered, perhaps the result of his head injury 18 years prior. The neck injury had weakened his spine as a whole, causing numerous problems, including the neurologically-based symptoms. After upper cervical care, he could walk without pain; his back pain improved; his energy level improved; getting out of bed was easier; and cramping in his feet lessened. While some residual back pain occurred (most likely due to the surgical scarring), as a whole his quality of life was much improved.

Male, Age 67, Parkinson's Disease

This 67-year-old male first experienced a slowness in his movement 5 years prior to his initial chiropractic visit. His PD diagnosis eventually was rendered approximately 3 years prior. His Parkinson's symptoms started following a motorcycle accident in which he fell and broke his arm.

At his initial chiropractic evaluation, his most severe symptoms included slow, small handwriting; tremors and weakness in his right hand and leg; toe curling and cramping; fatigue; walking trouble with shuffling steps; and neck tightness. During his examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. The neck injury seemed likely due to the motorcycle accident; however, he also had been an avid skier for many years and had played high school football. During both sports, he had sustained numerous traumas to the head and neck.

During the first few weeks of upper cervical care, he noticed increased range of motion in his neck and better energy. He also noticed a lessening in his tremors. Eventually his walking improved and he was able to decrease his Parkinson's medications.

Male, Age 41, Parkinson's Disease

This 41-year-old male first recalled experiencing PD symptoms approximately 8 years prior when he noticed loss of mental acuity, poor sleep, and fatigue. Several years later, he developed foot cramping and hand tremoring, and was finally diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a little over a year prior to his first upper cervical chiropractic visit.

At his initial chiropractic appointment, his most severe symptoms included cramping and numbness in his left foot and leg; left-sided neck stiffness; cogwheeling in his left arm and left leg; tremoring in his left hand; decreased arm swing on the left; fatigue; insomnia; and dragging of his left leg. During his examination, an upper cervical injury was discovered. Because of his past history as a professional cyclist, he recalled numerous traumas to his head and neck during bike crashes, which could have caused his upper neck injury.

Within the first week of upper cervical care, he reported feeling less neck stiffness; his left leg was making more fluid movements; his strength felt like 90% instead of operating only at 65%; and his arm was handing looser. By the second week, he noticed less tremoring in his hand and was able to exercise 4 days in a row with good strength, and without fatigue. By his 3-month reevaluation, he clearly reported experiencing better sleep, increased energy, increased mental clarity, more fluidity in his arms and legs, less tremor, and better sleep.

Male, Age 66, Parkinson's Disease

This 66-year-old was diagnosed with PD one year prior to his initial chiropractic visit. He reported experiencing symptoms approximately 2 years prior to his intial visit, when he noticed trouble walking, stumbling, stoop posture, and tremor.

At his initial evaluation, his most severe symptoms included weakness in his extremities; slurred speech; shortness of breath; rubbery legs; left leg numbness; trouble sleeping; and severe low back pain. During his examination, an upper cervical injury was discovered, which could have stemmed from an auto accident he had been involved in several years prior.

After two weeks of upper cervical care, he reported feeling overall better. His walking and talking was noticeably better as friends and family commented about the changes. He also noticed better arm swing while walking and improvement in his low back pain. The left leg numbness was absent. During his reevaluation 5months later, his improvements continued, plus he reported the additional improvements of increased hand and leg coordination / agility.

Male, Age 63, Parkinson's Disease

At age 43, this 63-year-old male noticed increasing stiffness in his neck, a head twitch, and a tremor in his right hand. At the start of upper cervical care, his most severe symptoms included rigidity in his neck, back, right arm, and right leg and tremor in his right hand and foot. He also had a stooped posture, a masked facial expression, decreased agility in his right hand, and illegible handwriting.

During his initial upper cervical chiropractic examination, an upper neck injury was discovered, possibly the result of an earlier accident while playing football. After three months of chiropractic care, this patient's main areas of improvement were in spinal range of motion, flexibility, and posture. He reported improved motion, especially in his neck, and the ability to stand up straighter. He was able to take long walks without stooping over or feeling pain. In addition, he was able to stay on his feet and accomplish more during the day without spinal pain or feeling tired. He also reported improved facial expression, decreased rigidity, and improved ability to get up out of bed, to walk, and to arise from a chair.

Male, Age 47, Parkinson's Disease

This 47-year-old male first experienced neck and back pain in high school. At age 37, his right hand began to tremor. Before upper cervical care, his symptoms reported were intellectual impairment, depression, loss of motivation and facial expression, slurred speech, illegible handwriting, difficulty walking, dressing, arising from a chair, and turning in bed, frequent falling and freezing, tremor in his right hand and foot, rigidity in his neck, right hand, and foot, stooped posture, and bradykinesia.

During his initial examination, an upper neck injury was discovered. This patient recalled several traumas to his head and neck prior to the onset of Parkinson's symptoms. After upper cervical care, this patient resumed playing eighteen holes of golf-walking and carrying his clubs the entire distance which he had not been able to do in seven years. He reported significantly improved neck range of motion and decreased neck and low back pain. His right arm improved overall due to decreased numbness, better arm swing, and reduction of severity and frequency of tremor in his right hand. He had fewer cramps in his right leg and foot and less "off" periods overall. He also reported improved mood, more motivation, more facial expression, improved turning in bed, no falling, better walking and arising from a chair, less rigidity in his legs, improved posture, and better movement overall.

Male, Age 61, Parkinson's Disease

This 61-year-old male first noticed a tremor in his left hand and foot at age 59. At the start of care, his symptoms included an increase in salivation, difficulty dressing, difficulty walking, tremor in his left hand and foot, and difficulty with his left hand and leg agility. He also described his neck and spine to be stiff and rigid ninety percent of the time over the past two years.

During the patient's initial chiropractic examination, an upper cervical injury was discovered. Having been an avid skier for many years, this patient surmised the neck injury must have occurred from one of his many ski falls. After upper cervical care, this subject reported a dramatic increase in physical strength, energy level, agility, balance, and endurance. He was more mentally alert. He could ski an entire day where he previously had to stop by noon. He also noticed increased mobility in his spine because he could bend down to fasten his ski boots, which was previously impossible. Most importantly, he reported that the majority of his symptoms including tremor had been corrected and that he felt essentially "normal" other than slight weakness in his left arm and leg.

Female, Age 53, Parkinson's Disease

This 53-year-old female experienced her first Parkinson's disease symptoms at 33 years of age. She considered her Parkinson's progression to be slow because she still was able to function after twenty years of the condition but used high doses of medications to do so. She experienced frequent and severe "off" periods of dystonia (abnormal muscle tone) where her head seized to the left and her pelvis turned right. She often would remain frozen in that state, bedridden and in severe pain, for several hours. She rated her Parkinson's symptoms as "severe" rendering her bedridden and non-functional. Although the medications reduced her suffering, she still was plagued with dyskinesias (involuntary movements) 75 to 100 percent of the day. She also complained of neck pain, numbness in her left hand and arm, pressure at the base of her skull, and low back pain.

During her initial examination, an upper neck injury was discovered, which possibly resulted from an earlier car accident that preceded the onset of her Parkinson's symptoms. After upper cervical care, this patient reported decreased numbness, spinal pain and head pressure, and increased energy. Her most marked improvement was in the decreased frequency and severity of "off" periods. Previously an episode of dystonia lasted for several hours, while after care it lasted for 30 minutes or less. She felt well enough to drive again and enjoyed her renewed independence. In addition, she rated her Parkinson's symptoms as "moderate and still functional," and the occurrence of dyskinesias dropped to 25 percent of the day.

Female, Age 66, Parkinson's Disease

This 66-year-old female noticed the onset of Parkinson's symptoms, including rigidity, jerky movements, and loss of hand coordination, at 58 years of age. Other health complaints included neck pain, hand numbness, low back pain, and sciatica. During her initial evaluation, her most severe Parkinson's symptoms included loss of motivation, poor handwriting, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, difficulty turning in bed, loss of facial expression, rigidity in her neck, arms, and legs, and bradykinesia.

After upper cervical care, this subject reported complete correction of neck pain, substantial reduction in rigidity, and a decrease in low back pain and sciatica. She also reported improved ability to turn in bed, improved flexibility in her neck, arms, and legs, and improved movement overall.

Male, Age 76, Parkinson's Disease

This 76-year-old male first noticed his left foot dragging at age 72. He also experienced pain in his left hip and underwent surgery on his lumbar spine one year later. He reported that the pain became more severe after surgery and consequently he had to take daily prescription pain medication. The combination of his dragging left leg and his right hip pain made walking and arising from a chair difficult. He also reported a stooped posture, neck pain, and difficulty with speech, handwriting, and swallowing.

After upper cervical care, this patient had increased energy and accomplished more during the day. His hip pain decreased, substantially reducing his need for pain medication and he was better able to arise from a chair. He also reported improved neck range of motion, posture, and balance.

Male, Age 49, Parkinson's Disease

This 49-year-old male first noticed shaking of his right hand and loss of fine motor control while writing and buttoning his shirt at age 37. During the past two years, his Parkinson's symptoms progressed so that a marked difference existed between "on" and "off" periods of medication use. He also suffered from insomnia and low back pain.

After upper cervical care, he noticed improved sleep and a reduction in low back pain to almost none. In addition, he reported feeling better during "on" periods including fewer symptoms, better energy and better balance.


"Dear Dr. Elster: My name is Susan Fusselman and I am the daughter of Larry, one of your Parkinson's patients. I want to thank you so much for all you have done for him and the remarkable progress he has made since being under your care. It is amazing the change we see in him, both physically and mentally. I hope you will continue your research in this very important area...thank you again for your insight and research on Parkinson's, you are making a wonderful difference in many lives."-- Susan Fussleman, Bedford, TX

"Because of the treatment I received as a participant in the three-month study conducted by Dr. Elster, I feel my agility and posture have improved. I believe I have better neck movement and am better able to rise up from a supine position, and I feel my improved posture allows me to walk and/or stand for longer periods of time with less fatigue. Thank you Dr. Elster. " Virgil, June 1999

"Since I started Dr. Elster's program, I have noticed improvement in the following areas: higher energy level, sleeping better, my left leg doesn't drag, walking is easier, and I can walk longer and further. My disposition is much improved plus my overall physical health is much better. When you're feeling well, your attitude toward yourself and those around you is much more positive. My wife, daughter, son, friends, neighbors and even members of our square dance group have all noticed a marked improvement in my physical and mental health. I highly recommend Dr. Elster's program. My sincere thanks to Dr. Elster for helping me deal with Parkinson's in a positive way." Larry, June 1999

"My energy level has improved noticeably during "on" times with less pronounced fatigue and more lengthy "on" times. Prior to the study my sleep was very erratic and now has improved substantially. I've also noticed a big improvement in my lower back pain along with better mobility in both my neck and back. My attitude and mood have also improved due to the positive changes and improvements that I've experienced as a result of the treatment. Since the study began I've discovered that I look forward to the treatments and I hope that continuing on will result in even further improvements." Rick, June 1999

"During the study period with Dr. Elster I have enjoyed a dramatic improvement in energy level, strength, and agility. This change has been clearly demonstrated by a significant increase in my skill and enjoyment of skiing. Thank you Dr. Elster." Chuck, June 1999

"I have had PD for 20 years and have had neck problems, dystonia, and cramping, etc. for at least the last five years. My head would pull down on my left shoulder and it was very painful. I would take muscle relaxants and tranquilizers and my husband would massage my neck and shoulders but it would take hours before it would come loose. So when I heard about Dr. Elster, I really wanted to participate in her study. She has helped me a lot. I still get dystonia but not nearly as often or as severe. I had stopped driving because I would get too tired and I didn't feel safe at the wheel. Now most of the time I drive myself and really enjoy the independence again. I disliked having to depend on someone else. I still have PD but Dr. Elster has made it much easier to live with." Arlyce, June 1999

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