An Introduction to Wind-Up

An Introduction to Wind-Up

By: Craig Anderson, D.C.

Every once in a while I like to lift the veil of health sciences and talk about something you probably have never heard of.  In this post, we’ll look at a neurological phenomenon that occurs in the spinal cord and Brain called wind-up.

Wind-up is a state of our nervous system where small stimulus (or no stimulus at all) can cause effects like irritability, anxiety and pain.

Without enough inhibition signals to the nerves, things can get out of control.  My work as a doctor of chiropractic involves daily helping patients that have this heightened response to stimuli.  Bad chemistry, eating a lot of garbage, taking strong medications and excessive worry are all causes of wind-up.

You can reduce wind-up with deep breathing, meditation, exercise and (of particular interest to me) a chiropractic adjustment.  An adjustment causes a blast of inhibition into the spinal cord.  This is one of the reason patients can feel an immediate reduction of pain after an adjustment.

If you would like to dig deeper and learn more about wind-up, review our archives.

Stay cool. – Dr. Anderson

Central and autonomic nervous system interaction is altered by short-term meditation

AbstractFive days of integrative body–mind training (IBMT) improves attention and self-regulation in comparison with the same amount of relaxation training. This paper explores the underlying mechanisms of this finding. We measured the physiological and brain changes at rest before, during, and after 5 days of IBMT and relaxation training. During and after training, the IBMT group showed significantly better physiological reactions in heart rate, respiratory amplitude and rate, and skin conductance response (SCR) than the relaxation control. Differences in heart rate variability (HRV) and EEG power suggested greater involvement of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in the IBMT group during and after training. Imaging data demonstrated stronger subgenual and adjacent ventral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activity in the IBMT group. Frontal midline ACC theta was correlated with high-frequency HRV, suggesting control by the ACC over parasympathetic activity. These results indicate that after 5 days of training, the IBMT group shows better regulation of the ANS by a ventral midfrontal brain system than does the relaxation group. This changed state probably reflects training in the coordination of body and mind given in the IBMT but not in the control group. These results could be useful in the design of further specific interventions.

Source: Central and autonomic nervous system interaction is altered by short-term meditation

Wind-up of spinal cord neurones and pain sensation: much ado about something? – PubMed – NCBI

Wind-up is a frequency-dependent increase in the excitability of spinal cord neurones, evoked by electrical stimulation of afferent C-fibres. Although it has been studied over the past thirty years, there are still uncertainties about its physiological meaning. Glutamate (NMDA) and tachykinin NK1 receptors are required to generate wind-up and therefore a positive modulation between these two receptor types has been suggested by some authors. However, most drugs capable of reducing the excitability of spinal

Source: Wind-up of spinal cord neurones and pain sensation: much ado about something? – PubMed – NCBI

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Dramatically Reduces Inflammation | Psychology Today

Inflammatory responses play a central role in the development and persistence of many diseases and can lead to debilitating chronic pain. In many cases, inflammation is your body’s response to stress. Therefore, reducing “fight-or-flight” responses in the nervous system and lowering biological markers for stress can also reduce inflammation. Typically, doctors prescribe medications to combat inflammation. However, there’s growing evidence that another way to combat inflammation is by engaging the vagus ner

Source: Vagus Nerve Stimulation Dramatically Reduces Inflammation | Psychology Today

Reduction in stress can be a migraine trigger

The weekend headache can happen the day after a stressful week. That is truly a slap in the face.

The day you plan to relax can become a day of suffering. Managing things that cause stress is one key. The biggest chiropractic connection is the reversed cervical curve. Make sure to get your neck check if you ever experience a headache. Don’t cover up with medications. –Dr. A

Objective: To test whether level of perceived stress and reductions in levels of perceived stress (i.e., “let-down”) are associated with the onset of migraine attacks in persons with migraine.

Methods: Patients with migraine from a tertiary headache center were invited to participate in a 3-month electronic diary study. Participants entered data daily regarding migraine attack experience, subjective stress ratings, and other data. Stress was assessed using 2 measures: the Perceived Stress Scale and the Self-Reported Stress Scale. Logit-normal, random-effects models were used to estimate the odds ratio for migraine occurrence as a function of level of stress over several time frames.

Results: Of 22 enrolled participants, 17 (median age 43.8 years) completed >30 days of diaries, yielding 2,011 diary entries including 110 eligible migraine attacks (median 5 attacks per person). Level of stress was not generally associated with migraine occurrence. However, decline in stress from one evening diary to the next was associated with increased migraine onset over the subsequent 6, 12, and 18 hours, with odds ratios ranging from 1.5 to 1.9 (all p values < 0.05) for the Perceived Stress Scale. Decline in stress was associated with migraine onset after controlling for level of stress for all time points. Findings were similar using the Self-Reported Stress Scale.

Conclusions: Reduction in stress from one day to the next is associated with migraine onset the next day. Decline in stress may be a marker for an impending migraine attack and may create opportunities for preemptive pharmacologic or behavioral interventions.

Source: Reduction in perceived stress as a migraine trigger

Backwards Thinking

I just read this great blogpost about cognitive skills and walking. This one takes a different direction, literally. Wray Herbert talks about brain function and the difference between walking forward as compared to walking backwards.

Researchers had a few volunteers walk some steps forward then they took a cognitive test. They walked left and took the test. This was repeated to the right, then backwards. The researchers concluded the following:

Those who had walked just a few steps backward were far more focused and attentive than were any of the others. That is, their physical retreat triggered increased mental control—presumably because of the ancient link between threat and vigilance. Confronted with a problem or difficulty, it made be advisable to take a step back and think about the situation—literally.

When I was in school I loved use techniques to help me assimilate information. I learned that drinking coffee an hour before a test helped with recall, I never missed a cup. Taking frequent breaks while studying helps process the info, I was the king of breaks. Now I learn that I should walk backwards when I need more brain power.

So if you see me walking backwards one day — I’m not crazy — just trying to get my brain to work.


Dr. Craig Anderson

“Bridge Night” May Prevent Disease

[This study shows how important the nervous system is to immune system function – Dr. Anderson]

The card game bridge is a favorite pastime of adults throughout the world. Now, research presented Tuesday at the Society for Neurosciences annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana indicates that playing the game may bolster player’s immune systems.

Twelve elderly women played contract bridge for one and a half hours. Compared with blood samples taken before play, samples taken after play contained significantly more CD4-positive T-lymphocytes, which are associated with disease prevention. Researchers speculate that bridge
activates the dosolateral cortex of the brain, which has been shown to stimulate immune cell production.

Society for Neuroscience.

Dr. Craig Anderson