Ask the Doc: ‘Ask the Doc’ responds to a question about Sydenham’s Chorea

Editor’s note: Dr. Philip Schalow’s new featured article, “Ask the Doc,” will appear monthly. This is the third column in the series. Send questions for Dr. Schalow to and he will answer each one individually and choose a sampling for this article.

By Dr. Philip Schalow

I was diagnosed with Sydenham’s Chorea as a child. As I recover from headaches under upper cervical care, can I expect that other problems related to that diagnosis might also clear up?”

Sydenham’s Chorea is considered an autoimmune disease wherein the infection (thought to be a type of strep) gets into the brain. Any time a “bug” gets lodged in body tissues, the immune system becomes very interested in those hiding places and begins attacking those tissues. This can be a big problem! When it happens to the heart, your own body’s protective cells begin destroying heart tissue, and suddenly you have “heart disease.”

With Sydenham’s Chorea, mostly seen in children, the damaged area of the brain controls muscle activity. As a result, a child will begin to show extra activity in the face, body and arms, like a slow writhing or twitching movement. Most of the time, the symptoms clear on their own after a few months, but you are right about wondering if there is other damage to sensitive nerve tissue.

What we know about the immune system is that it is not so much an isolated system as it is an alliance among all the systems of the body. It involves nerve, skin, bone, digestion, endocrine, blood, elimination and even respiratory events to function at its best. We need our thymus gland (endocrine) to produce lymphocytes, our spleen and liver (lymphatic, elimination and blood) for antibodies. We need our long bones for producing blood that carries nourishing oxygen and nutrients to all body tissues. We need our nerves to control and coordinate all the functions of our bodies that keep us alive!

Where upper cervical care helps is to restore blood flow to the brain (there is ongoing research about that interesting fact), and to set up conditions favorable for long-term healing in all the systems of the body, including the immune system. Many patients report fewer sick days, no more asthma attacks, no more seasonal illnesses.

One patient with Multiple Sclerosis (a condition characterized by deterioration of brain cell tissue) has shown improvements in her neurologic tests after one year. It’s a slow process of restoring normal function as the nerve system rebuilds, but as the nerve system rebuilds, we see autoimmune disorders recede.

For complex conditions like Sydenham’s Chorea, upper cervical care is a fundamental contributor to care.

Dr. Philip Schalow is a NUCCA practitioner in Rockford. He owns 1st Step Chiropractic, S.C., 4519 Highcrest Road, Rockford. Call (815) 398-4500 for details or visit

From the March 13-19, 2013, issue

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