Have you ever experienced a persistent sore throat without flu-like symptoms? There are several factors that cause sore throats without illness. Over the past few weeks, we talked about different body systems associated with the Autonomic Nervous System, and identified different conditions that chiropractors can help manage. In this week’s blog, we will explain how the nervous system can relate to sore throats and identify what we can do to help.

What is a Sore Throat?

A sore throat is pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when swallowing. The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu, but other factors include tonsilitis, allergies, dry mouth, sleeping with the mouth open, muscle strain, tumors, air dryness, etc.

How is the Nervous System Connected to Sore Throats?

In the brain, we have twelve cranial nerves that are associated with the Peripheral Nervous System. The ninth cranial nerve, the glossopharyngeal nerve, provides motor, parasympathetic and sensory information to the mouth and throat. Other functions the nerve is responsible for include blood drainage of the carotid artery to help regulate blood pressure, feeling sensation of fluid buildup in the middle ear that may lead to ear infections, decreasing saliva production upon completion of eating, providing taste to a small portion of the tongue.

Unlike nerve roots, the cranial nerves do not originate or innervate with the spinal cord. Rather, they originate from different structures of the brain and exit through different openings of the skull called foramen. From there, they travel to their designated areas to provide function. 

How Can Chiropractors Treat Sore Throats?

How can chiropractors treat sore throats if specific nerve roots from the spinal cord don’t innervate with the glossopharyngeal nerve? That is a great question because after providing informative blogs for a year and half, we only discussed nerves coming from the spinal cord and not the brain. 

If you recall, the Central Nervous System includes the brain and spinal cord. The brain sends and receives signals to and from the spinal cord allowing human movement, sensation, reflexes, and entire body function. When nerve interference is present, whether it’s a spinal nerve root or a cranial nerve, a notification is sent to the brain so that the body can begin fighting the interference.

So, if the glossopharyngeal nerve originates from the brain, how can chiropractors help with sore throats? Studies show that providing a series of spinal manipulation treatments to the lower cervical region (C4, C5, C6) will significantly alleviate a sore throat.

At our office, we have state-of-the-art equipment that allows us to physically view the cervical spine in full, live motion. With our technology, we can show patients exactly what is wrong with the cervical spine.

When patients present to us with a sore throat, we take a live scan of their neck, and 9 chances out of 10, nerve interference is present at the C4, C5 or C6 nerve root level. Again, 9 chances out of 10, patients will present to the office the next day with reduced sore throat pain or complete resolution. 

This really hasn’t answered the question of how chiropractors can treat sore throats though. Think of a cell phone tower. The antenna is the brain and the rod inserted to the bottom is the spinal cord. When the cell tower is in close range, reception is strong, but as we move further, reception weakens; however, we still have reception. The cranial nerves may not be close to the brain once they exit the skull, but their origin is still the brain, and a communication signal is still achievable. 

In Conclusion

When routine spinal adjustments are performed, nervous system and brain activity are enhanced, thus improving many conditions that you would have never expected a chiropractor to treat such as sore throats. 

If you have any questions about how we can help with sore throats, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and check out our website, www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more information.

Yours in Health,

Larry E. Wilkins, D.C.

Brian M. Steinert, D.C.