Chiropractic Care for High Blood Pressure

chiropractic for high blood pressure
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Chiropractic is a type of alternative medicine sometimes said to help regulate blood pressure. Although research on the potentially blood-pressure-lowering effects of chiropractic is limited, there's some preliminary evidence that undergoing spinal manipulation may be beneficial to certain people with high blood pressure (a condition also known as hypertension).

Why Is Chiropractic Sometimes Used for Blood Pressure Control?

Chiropractic medicine is based on the principle that misalignments in the joints of the spine (and in other areas of the body) can impair nervous system function and lead to a host of health problems.

By correcting these misalignments through the use of manual manipulation of the joints, chiropractors aim to restore health (as well as stimulate the body's innate self-healing abilities). 

There are many theories on how or why chiropractic may help lower blood pressure. Some proponents suggest that chiropractic can help regulate blood pressure in part by altering the body's physical response to stress. It's also said that certain chiropractic adjustments can help reduce blood pressure by promoting relaxation of the blood vessels.

The Science Behind Chiropractic and Blood Pressure Control

For a research review published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in 2012, scientists analyzed 10 previously published studies on the use of spinal manipulation in the treatment of hypertension. Although decreases in blood pressure were observed in some of the studies, the review's authors note that most of the reviewed trials had significant problems in their design and/or execution.

One of the most frequently cited studies on chiropractic and blood pressure control is a pilot study published in Journal of Human Hypertension in 2007. The study involved 50 hypertension patients with a misalignment in the atlas vertebra (a bone found high in the neck). Half of the study members were given a one-time chiropractic treatment designed to correct that misalignment, while the other half of study members were given a "sham intervention" designed to act as a placebo.

Study results revealed that participants who underwent correction of the Atlas vertebra misalignment experienced an improvement in blood pressure similar to that seen by giving patients two different blood-pressure-lowering drugs simultaneously. The study's authors note that the improvement continued for the study's eight-week follow-up period.

While this study indicates that chiropractic shows promise in the treatment of hypertension, further research is needed to confirm its findings.


Chiropractic may trigger certain side effects (such as headaches and tiredness). Serious complications are rare, but may include herniated disk, cauda equina syndrome (compression of nerves in the lower spinal column), and stroke. The American Heart Association released a statement in 2014 cautioning that manipulating the neck (which includes the Atlas vertebra) has been associated with cervical dissection, a type of tear in the artery walls in the neck that can lead to stroke. 

Chiropractic manipulation may not be appropriate for people with severe osteoporosis, cancer in the spine, numbness, tingling or loss of strength in a limb, and those with other conditions affecting the spine or who are at an increased risk of stroke.

Chiropractic should not be used as a substitute for physician-prescribed treatment of hypertension. When left untreated, high blood pressure can contribute to a number of life-threatening health issues (including heart attack, stroke heart failure, and kidney damage). Uncontrolled blood pressure is also linked to chronic conditions such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Using Chiropractic for Blood Pressure Control

It's too soon to recommend chiropractic as a treatment for high blood pressure. Since hypertension is a key risk factor for heart disease, it's important to take everyday steps to keep your blood pressure in check (especially as you age). Lifestyle practices known to help with blood pressure control include following a healthy diet with limited intake of sodium and alcohol, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and managing your stress levels.

Research shows that several other types of alternative medicine (including massage and acupuncture) may also help regulate blood pressure. Furthermore, some studies have found that natural remedies like garlic, hawthorn, and hibiscus tea might offer blood-pressure-lowering benefits to some as well.

If you're considering the use of chiropractic (or any other form of alternative medicine) to help control high blood pressure, it is essential that you consult your physician before beginning treatment. 


Bakris G1, Dickholtz M Sr, Meyer PM, Kravitz G, Avery E, Miller M, Brown J, Woodfield C, Bell B. "Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: a pilot study." J Hum Hypertens. 2007 May;21(5):347-52.

Goertz CH1, Grimm RH, Svendsen K, Grandits G. "Treatment of Hypertension with Alternative Therapies (THAT) Study: a randomized clinical trial." J Hypertens. 2002 Oct;20(10):2063-8.

Mangum K1, Partna L, Vavrek D. "Spinal manipulation for the treatment of hypertension: a systematic qualitative literature review." J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2012 Mar-Apr;35(3):235-43.

McMasters KL1, Wang J, York J, Hart J, Neely C, Delain RJ. "Blood pressure changes in African American patients receiving chiropractic care in a teaching clinic: a preliminary study." J Chiropr Med. 2013 Jun;12(2):55-9.

Plaugher G1, Long CR, Alcantara J, Silveus AD, Wood H, Lotun K, Menke JM, Meeker WC, Rowe SH. "Practice-based randomized controlled-comparison clinical trial of chiropractic adjustments and brief massage treatment at sites of subluxation in subjects with essential hypertension: pilot study." J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002 May;25(4):221-39.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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