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CASE STUDIES: Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

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.

Female, Age 47, Sleep Disorder, Fatigue, Depression

This 47-year-old female suffered from a sleep disorder since her daughter's birth 12 years prior. She had been unable to get a good night's sleep since and as a result was extremely fatigued. She also described trouble with depression and mood swings because of her extreme lack of sleep. She described most nights with frequent awakening without any consistent sleep hours in a row.

During her initial evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered. It was postulated that going through the birthing process was enough to cause injury in her case since the development of the sleep disorder coincided with her daughter's birth. One week after the initiation of upper cervical care, she began sleeping and reported several nights where she slept between 7 and 10 hours without awakening. This continued consistently and she felt her energy and her happy mood return. Eventually she was able to discontinue all sleep and anti-depression medications.

Female, Age 31, Fatigue, Sleep Disorder

This 31-year-old female described such extreme fatigue and trouble sleeping that she required 3 different alarms to get her out of bed each morning for work. This had been going on for years and she could remember having trouble as far back as age 16.

During her evaluation, an upper cervical injury was discovered. She reported that she had had a difficult birth requiring forceps and thought that perhaps might have been the original cause of her neck injury. After the first adjustment, she immediately began sleeping better. Several weeks later, she reported being able to wake up before her alarms went off and she felt energetic and well-rested.

Male, Age 11, Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, Sleep Disorder, ADHD, Headaches

This 11-year-old male suffered with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Headaches for many years. He experienced constant muscular pain throughout his body and had trouble participating in sports or exercise due to pain and muscle spasms. He couldn't even wear a watch due to pain around his wrists. He frequently took hot baths or used a heating pad to relax his muscles. In addition, he was home-schooled due to frustration and difficulty in school. Headaches occurred twice per week, sometimes severe. His sleep was extremely irregular-- he usually awakened every few hours. Frequently he would be in bed for 13 hours and still wake up fatigued.

During this 11-year-old's upper cervical chiropractic exam, an upper neck injury was found. When questioning his mother about the boy's medical history, she recalled that he fell out of a grocery cart at age 3 months. After only 1 month of upper cervical care, all symptoms were greatly improved. He was able to participate in sports without pain; he no longer had muscle spasms; all headaches were gone; school work improved in that he had less frustration and better attention span; he slept through the night and had energy upon awakening; and all fatigue was gone.

Female, Age 19, Headaches, Insomnia, Fatigue, Fainting Spells

At age 15, this 19-year-old female was struck by several large waves while on vacation with her family. After the waves hit her and knocked her face-down against the ocean floor, she ran out of the water with severe pain in her neck and back. While she appeared to recover, when she returned home at the end of the vacation, she began having fainting spells, where she would wake up in strange locations, not knowing what had happened. One fainting spell occurred while she was driving her car, causing her to run a red light and get hit by a bus traveling the opposite direction. After this incident, she was no longer allowed to drive. In addition to the fainting spells, she also began suffering from headaches, which escalated into a constant, daily occurrence, as well as frequent insomnia, which lead to extreme fatigue.

After consulting with several local doctors and undergoing numerous tests, including an MRI, her physicians could not find anything wrong with her and could only conclude that she had migraines and possibly psychological problems. Not accepting this, this patient and her parents searched the internet for additional help and decided to undergo an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation.

During her evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which was likely caused by the trauma from the waves. Because this patient had traveled from a distance to undergo the evaluation, her family decided to have her stay in the area for 7 weeks to be treated. After her first upper cervical adjustment, the fainting stopped. By the second week of care, her headaches began to diminish. In addition, she began to sleep better and felt more energetic. At the end of seven weeks, all fainting, headaches, and insomnia were absent. She felt healthy, happy, and energetic.


"Dear Dr. Elster, After several weeks back at home, my daughter is still feeling well. She has not had any headaches or fainting and she feels happy and healthy. We had a party the week after she came home and all of her friends and family were excited to see her eyes so bright and full of energy. My wife and I want to thank you so much for what you did for her and for your enthusiasm and encouragement. We can hardly believe the changes in our daughter!" Ton, about his daughter, Sept '02

Male, Age 9, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, Depression, Insomnia, Headaches, Asthma

This 9-year-old boy began having health problems soon after his birth (a forceps birth). He also fell down the stairs at age 1. He had many infections including ear infections and pneumonia every year for the first several years of his life. He was diagnosed with asthma at age 2 and prescribed inhalers. The asthma attacks occurred during weather changes, humidity, and physical activity. By age 7, he was diagnosed with ADHD and Tourette Syndrome. The Tourette's tics occurred head to toe and involved his eyes, neck, voice, rolling of his toes, flinching of his side, and lifting of his arms overhead. He was not prescribed Ritalin for ADHD due to an increased risk of tics. In addition, he was diagnosed with insomnia and depression at age 8 and was prescribed 2 different anti-depressant medications. He also experienced neck pain and headaches 3 times per week since age 8.

During this boy's upper cervical exam, a neck injury was found, which possibly stemmed from either his birth or fall down the stairs.

After his first upper cervical adjustment, his mother reported only 2 days later: 1) his attitude and personality were happier, 2) no headaches, 3) no neck pain, 4) no wheezing, 5) tics were cut in half, 6) slept through the night. One month later, no headaches or neck pain occurred over the month; no asthma or wheezing occurred over the month and no asthma medications were used; all motor tics were completely gone and only an occasional verbal tic occurred; sleeping had been consistently improved; personality and behavior had been consistently improved and anti-depressants had been cut in half; attention in school to school work and interaction with other kids in school was also greatly improved. Six weeks after the first adjustment, all symptoms were absent. All family members remarked that by having his neck injury corrected, the boy had become a completely different, happy, and healthy child.

Male, Age 23, Bipolar Disorder, Epilepsy, Sleep Disorder, Headaches, Back Pain

This 23-year-old male suffered a closed head injury at age 17 in which he landed on his head due to a pole-vaulting accident at a high school track meet. Since the fall, he suffered from bipolar disorder (rapid-cycling mood swings), seizures (2-3 per day), daily headaches, daily neck and back pain, and sleep disorder (he would often be awake for 24-36 straight hours before finally going to sleep and then often would sleep for 24 or more hours). He was taking tegretol for bipolar disorder and pain medication for headaches.

During this patient's upper cervical exam, an upper neck injury was found, most likely stemming from the pole-vaulting accident. The injury was compromising this patient's brain and spinal cord function. After five months of upper cervical care, all mood swings, headaches, seizures, pain, and sleep trouble were corrected, and all medications were discontinued. All family members remarked at the enormous change in the patient's mental outlook, personality, and health.

Female, Age 24, Chronic Headaches, Neck Pain, Difficulty Sleeping

This 24-year-old female suffered from daily headaches, neck pain, and difficulty sleeping for the past year. The headaches started at the base of her skull and shot up behind her eyes and down her upper back. The pain was severe enough that she often was kept awake at night, and as a result, she experienced fatigue.

After upper cervical care, she was head and neck pain free. Also she slept through the night and reported a large increase in energy level. Male, Age 25, Neck Pain, Headaches, Numbness in Hands, Fatigue After an auto-accident last spring, this 25-year-old male experienced spinal pain, fatigue, restlessness, headaches, and numbness in his hands for the last 6 months. After the first adjustment, his symptoms improved substantially. One month later, all of his symptoms were completely gone. Years later, he had no return of symptoms.


"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Elster for her outstanding chiropractic care. I had been suffering for 6 months from chronic fatigue, restlessness, numbness of fingers and hands, neck pain, and headaches after a car accident. Upon referral from my girlfriend, I decided to set all skepticism aside and visit Dr. Elster's office. Even though Dr. Elster noted my skepticism right away, she continued to explain the possibilities available for me. I do have to admit that I did not believe that her care would help to relieve my numerous symptoms. After she explained the reasons for my discomfort through x-rays, experience, and acquired knowledge, I agreed to treatment. The treatment itself was comfortable and I could see positive results within a short period of time. The only thing I still don't believe about Dr. Elster's treatment is that all of my symptoms had nearly disappeared within one week -- after only ONE adjustment! My only regret is that I did not seek Dr. Elster's help sooner. I would highly recommend her services to anyone. Thank you very much, Dr. Elster!" Dennis, age 25, December '97

Male, Age 20, Insomnia

This bike racer crashed during a race 4 years prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. During the crash, he landed on his head, was knocked unconscious, and dislocated a shoulder. Ever since the accident, he had difficulty sleeping and could lie in bed for hours before falling asleep. He reported that his lack of sleep seemed to inhibit his ability to train because he recovered slowly after workouts and was frequently fatigued.

During his initial upper cervical examination, an upper neck injury was found (possibly resulting from the concussion 4 years prior).

After one month of upper cervical care, normal sleep resumed. He was able to fall asleep shortly after going to bed and slept soundly through the night. As a result, he was able to train harder and recover faster, thereby vastly improving his cycling performance. He moved up to higher racing categories and decreased his race times.


"I started racing bicycles in 1990 and steadily progressed in my skills and fitness until a bad crash in the fall of 1993. I went down on a road ride and dislocated my shoulder. I eventually healed and resumed riding and racing. It did not take long to regain my fitness, however I soon plateaued and was unable to move beyond a certain level. During the next few years I became actively involved in other aspects of the sport including coaching. It was then that I noticed that something was not quite right. I was able to coach a family friend to four Jr. National championships, so I clearly understood training principles and knew what needed to be done to achieve a high level of fitness, but I could not reach that level personally. During this time, I noticed that I gradually had more and more trouble falling asleep at night. I started seeing Dr. Elster in April '97 and within a few weeks I began to sleep better. I can now fall asleep almost immediately. In addition, I have finally started to advance to a higher fitness level because I am able to rest and recover from workouts more effectively. I am currently a category 3 road racer and expert level mountain biker. Both upgrades I have achieved just this year." Robert, age 20, September '97

Female, Age 37, Insomnia, Headaches

This 37-year-old female suffered from insomnia and headaches since an auto accident 2 years prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. When she tried to sleep at night, it usually took her 4-5 hours to fall asleep even though she was exhausted all day. When she tried to take naps, she could never fall asleep. She also was plagued with headaches since the accident that involved pain near her ears and cheeks and occasionally caused nausea.

After 1 month of care, she fell asleep within a half-hour when she went to bed at night and slept through the night. She also took naps but eventually did not find them necessary because she was no longer exhausted and fatigued during the day. In addition, the headaches were gone.

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