This post is the fifth in a six-part series taken from the article by Keith Wassung entitled “Diabetes and Chiropractic”.  This series focuses on diabetes as a disease,  treatments for diabetes, and the ways chiropractic care can help.  The previous post highlighted the connection between the body’s central nervous system and metabolism. This week’s post explains how the spinal cord and nerve interference can play a role in metabolic problems like diabetes.

Part 5: Spinal Cord and Nerve Interference

Cross section of spinal cord and spinal nervesThe spinal cord is both a cable and a switchboard. As a cable, it connects the brain with the rest of the nerves in the body. As a switchboard, it coordinates muscle movements, reflexes and other activities under its direct control.

The spinal cord is a direct extension of the brain, composed of the same kind of nerve cells, fibers and supporting glial cells as those of the brain.


Illustration of the upper half of a skeleton from the rear

The spinal cord is composed of 24 individual vertebra, stacked on top of one another. The spine is straight when viewed from the front or the rear. When viewed from the side, it forms a series of geometric curves or arcs. This arrangement of spinal curves is much stronger than a more rigid straight column.

When the spine is in its optimal structural position, the nervous system pathways are protected, and the integrity of nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain at an optimum level. This is when the nervous system can best achieve homeostasis and maintains its metabolism.

Because the vertebrae are moveable, they are also susceptible to various stresses and forces, which can cause them to lose their proper position. This condition is called a vertebral subluxation.


Subluxations interfere with the normal flow of nerve impulses and can cause an increase or decrease of nerve activity.


diagram of a vertebra and spinal column structuresThis is why metabolic disorders are often related to imbalances in the endocrine system

Vertebral subluxations may be referred to or described in scientific literature by a variety of names including: spinal lesions, nerve dysfunction, nerve impingement, axillary nerve dysfunction, sciatica, dystrophic axon disorder, double crush phenomena, neuritis, dysponesis, neuropathy, nerve entrapment, as well many others.

Spinal nerve interference has been documented by leading scientific researchers to be a contributing factor of endocrine and metabolic disorders including diabetes.


“Lesions of the hypothalamic input region may produce a variety of symptoms, including diabetes, obesity, sexual dystrophy, and loss of thermal control.” 1

Correlative Neuroanatomy & Functional Neurology


Picture of an MRI technician reviewing an image of a brain“Research at the Still Institute showed that spinal lesions resulted in pathological changes in the blood, urine, and tissue fluids. Spinal lesions of the atlas & axis (C1 & C2) were associated with abnormal function of the pituitary gland, resulting in abnormal hormone secretions.” 2

Still Research Institute


“Hyper functional or Hypo functional neurons along a neural chain prevent normal nerve transmission causing disturbances in the homeostasis of the cells, tissue, and organs.” 3

Dr. T.N Lee, Academy of Pain Research


Diagram of the spinal cord


Nerves branch at specific levels of the spinal column, thus dysfunction of visceral organs may be associated with spinal nerve dysfunction at certain branches or levels of the spine. Because of compensation, the primary level of spinal somatic dysfunction may be at a level different from the level of the nerve root innervating the dysfunctional organ or system.” 4

U.S. Medicare Policy



Skeleton showing inside of a man's silhouette


“Abnormalities of central afferent and efferent pathways have been revealed by evoked potential studies in diabetic patients. Central nervous system abnormalities are more frequent in patients with peripheral neuropathy, but evoked potential can be abnormal even in patients without neuropathy.” 5

Clinical Neuroscience




“A study of 46 insulin-dependent patients, who had had no indication of neurological pain, was compared with 46 age-matched control subjects. Spinal somatosensory evoked potentials were recorded from various segments of the spine. The study revealed that patients with juvenile diabetes without clinical evidence of neuropathy can have defects in spinal afferent transmission.” 6

Annals of Neurology


picture of hands shown using a diabetes testing pen

Oral glucose tolerance testing was performed on 201 subjects with spinal cord trauma. The dependent variables included the values from the oral glucose tolerance test, (glucose, insulin) and diagnostic classification (i.e. Diabetes Mellitus) along with impaired glucose tolerance. The study concluded that patients with the greatest levels of neurological deficit have increased risk of developing disorders of the metabolism. 7




  1. Chusid, J. Correlative Neuroanatomy & Functional Neurology, 18th edition, Lange Medical Publications, 1982
  2. Lee, T “Thalamic Neuron Theory” Medical Hypothesis 1994, 43 285-302
  3. Leach, R. The Chiropractic Theories, p. 132 Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, 1986
  4. .U.S. Medicare Medical Policy, Oct. 1997
  5. .Comi, G. “Evoked potentials in diabetes mellitus” Clinical Neuroscience, 1997;4(6):374-9
  6. Cracco J, “Spinal somasensatory evoked potentials in juvenile diabetes” Annuals of Neurology, Jan;15(1)55-8
  7. Bauman, W. “The effect of residual neurological deficit on oral glucose tolerance in persons with chronic spinal cordinjury” Spinal Cord, 1999 Nov;37(11):765-71