Vasovagal Syncope & Chiropractic

The term syncope, means to “cut short” or “interrupt” and is defined as “a transient and self-terminating loss of consciousness (LOC) with rapid onset, short duration combined with spontaneous, prompt and complete recovery. Syncope is said to be a result of a transitory reduction in cerebral blood flow adequate enough to disturb the normal functions of the brain and characterized as global cerebral hypo-perfusion. In clinical terms, patients who present with having experienced a transient loss of consciousness (TLOC), report their phenomenon to be an episode of loss of consciousness, collapse, fall, and/or a period of black out.

Around 40% of the adult population has experienced a syncopal episode (usually described as a “faint” or “blackout”), with women more likely than men to report such an episode. The incidence is higher with advancing age, and this trend coincides with the increase in prescription of vasoactive drugs and increasing incidence of cardiac arrhythmia in the elderly population. The prevalence rate for a syncopal episode is said to account for 3% of all emergency room visits and between 1 to 6% of all hospital admissions. Depending on the mechanism of the disorder, the annual mortality due to cardiac causes is said to be between 20 to 30%, whereas mortality due to non-cardiac origin is said to be between 5 to 10%.

Research into the nature of this disorder revealed it to be a single aspect of a large and wide-ranging group of disturbances affecting the autonomic nervous system (ANS), and each of which possibly resulting in hypotension, orthostatic intolerance, and ultimately syncope. Conventional management consists of education and skills in an effort to avoid syncope occurring. Pharmaceutical treatments as well as surgical implantation of a pacemaker are also used.

Function of the body is controlled by the nervous system, which is subdivided into two branches: the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). These branches work in an antagonistic harmony to properly control function of the body. Blood pressure is one of the functions controlled by the nervous system. When the nervous system is free of obstructions, it can better regulate anatomic, physiologic, and biochemical alterations. Correcting the vertebral subluxation is crucial to removing nerve obstructions and allowing the body to correctly perceive itself and its environment.

The patient reported on in this study was a 57 year old woman suffering from Vasovagal Syncope, neck pain and episodes of spontaneous fainting and blackouts for over 20 years. She had recently been prescribed drugs and the implantation of an electrical pacemaker was recommended.

The chiropractor examined her, took x-rays and found structural shifts in her neck. These structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct.

The woman was adjusted by the chiropractor and following her first adjustment she experienced complete resolution of her Vasovagal Syncope, fainting, blackouts and neck pain.

The study’s authors called for additional research to investigate the clinical implications of chiropractic in this population of patients.


Resolution of Vasovagal Syncope (VVS) Following Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care: A Case Study & Review of the Literature. Russell Friedman, D.C. & Alexandra Friedman D.C.Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research ~ February 8, 2018 ~ Pages 1-12