Chiropractic Care of a Battered Woman: A Case Study

Objective: This case study documents the chiropractic care of battered woman struggling with Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Chiropractic offers battered women a unique service, it is the only profession trained and licensed to detect and correct vertebral subluxations.  The relationship between the stresses of abuse and vertebral subluxation, as well as the subsequent changes during chiropractic care, are described.

Clinical Features: A Caucasian, 23-year old female presented with headaches, neck pain, and upper back pain. The initial complaint noted sharp, knife-like pains into the medial scapular borders, worse on the right side. Tingling extended into the right hand, most severe in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers.

Chiropractic care and outcome:  Protocols of both Torque Release and Activator techniques were utilized to evaluate vertebral subluxations.  Subjective quality of life issues were evaluated through a Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) Health Status Questionnaire. After commencing chiropractic care, this woman suffered a cervical spine hyper-extension/hyper-flexion type injury from an automobile accident. For the first 30 days after, adjustments were applied twice weekly.  Acute exacerbations of symptoms unrelated to the original complaints were displayed and progress became irregular. During the next 60 days, there were various unexplained falls and severe flare-ups of painful symptoms, and she finally admitted to being battered by her husband. Referrals to counselors and programs dealing with domestic violence were provided.  Once the physical battering stopped, consistent progress was noted in both clinical symptoms and quality of life issues.

Conclusion:  As a battered woman must receive emotional and social support to improve her situation, it is important for chiropractors to recognize the “red flags” of IPV.  Chiropractors re-evaluate regularly for changes in vertebral subluxation patterns and can recognize inconsistent responses. They may also be the first caregivers to offer a vitalistic approach; considering a woman’s physical, chemical, and emotional quality of life; a perspective that offers significant connection and trust.  This article serves as a foundation on the topic of IPV and chiropractic, for use in both communities.

Bedell L. Chiropractic Care of a Battered Woman: A Case Study. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research. 2006 Jul 20:1-6.