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Chiropractic Blog

Alleviating Optic Nerve Swelling with Chiropractic Care

Published Date: 
August 7, 2023
Close up of human eye.

Understanding Optic Nerve Swelling (Papilledema) 

Papilledema, which describes a type of optic nerve swelling, occurs when the optic discs in the eyes swell because of too much intracranial pressure. It occurs when the fluid that should be released and absorbed builds up.

The optic disc is located at the point where the nerve enters the back of the eye. This nerve connects the brain and the eye.

Swelling almost always affects both optic discs. If only one is affected, it’s usually caused by something other than intracranial pressure.

Optic nerve swelling can be a medical emergency. It’s a sign of intracranial hypertension, so it’s important to seek medical attention just in case.

Symptoms of optic nerve swelling include:

  • Pain
  • Vision loss in one eye
  • Visual field loss
  • Loss of color vision
  • Flashing lights

Chiropractic Care and Optic Nerve Function

It might be surprising, but the health of your neck and back affects your vision. This is why chiropractic care is so effective for improving vision health. 

Woman's neck and collarbone.

According to the theory of chiropractic care, all parts of your body are connected. What affects one area affects the entire body. The best health treatments acknowledge this whole-body connection and treat diseases and other problems accordingly. 

When nerves are impeded or you have misaligned vertebrae, it can cause vision problems. Some of these are minor, but in some cases, spinal problems can severely affect vision or cause total vision loss.

Your spine plays an important role in maintaining your whole-body health. When there are problems with the upper back and neck (cervical spine), it has a significant impact on your nervous system. Blockages or inflammation in this area can cause problems all over your body, including with your eyes. Your optic nerve is part of your nervous system, so anything that affects your nervous system can impact your vision.

It’s also important to note that your eyes require a proper supply of blood flow and oxygen. If anything blocks this, it can cause blurred or other vision problems.

Man sitting in driver's seat of car squinting while lifting up glasses.

Chiropractic care can help with optic nerve swelling, as well as:

  • Blurred or fuzzy vision
  • Vision problems that arise after injuries
  • Sensitive or watery eyes
  • Double vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Eyesight problems linked to glaucoma or diabetes

Spinal Manipulation and Optic Nerve Swelling

Optic nerve swelling occurs due to a buildup of fluid in the area. This fluid is usually produced and reabsorbed, so there’s just enough intracranial pressure to keep your system working properly. If there’s a buildup in this fluid, it can cause optic nerve swelling. Spinal manipulation restores fluid movement throughout the body. This helps to ease the swelling and get the body back into balance.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Techniques

Upper cervical chiropractic techniques focus on correcting misalignments in that area of the body – the upper neck and spine area. These misalignments are called subluxations or upper cervical subluxations. Chiropractors treating this area focus on the upper two vertebrae, C1 and C2.

Most upper cervical procedures are gentler than other chiropractic treatments. This is called a low-force correction.

It’s a great option for patients who are sensitive or in pain. It’s also ideal for people who have anxiety about seeing a chiropractor. The “cracking” or swift adjustments many people associate with chiropractic care aren’t used during upper cervical techniques.

Techniques include identifying the underlying cause of the condition and determining the best course of treatment for it instead of just masking symptoms.

Collaborative Care with Other Providers

Chiropractic care is safe, effective, and non-invasive. It’s also a great option because it can be used in conjunction with other medical treatments. Many chiropractors work in collaboration with a person’s medical team to treat a patient holistically. Chiropractic care does not interfere with other treatments and can be an effective way to treat the underlying causes of optic nerve swelling.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Your Eyesight

Chiropractic care offers several benefits for your eyesight, including:

Regulating Blood Supply

Chiropractic adjustments improve blood flow. This allows blood and oxygen to flow throughout the body and reach the optic nerve. Restricted blood flow is one of the most common causes of blurred vision and other vision issues. Chiropractic adjustments correct the misalignments that prevent proper blood and oxygen flow.

Doctor examining eye of female patient in medical clinic.

Improved Communication within the Nervous System

Chiropractic care supports healthy nervous system communication and can help restore nerve function. Even a small spinal misalignment can affect communication in the nervous system. When this occurs, the optic nerve can be affected. 

Reduced Eye Pressure

Chiropractic care is a great tool for relieving eye pressure caused by glaucoma or diabetes. If left untreated, this pressure can move to vision and/or eye loss. Chiropractic care reduces this pressure in the eyes and helps with blood flow regulation.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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