When a new patient comes into my office, I explain to them that as a chiropractor I treat what is called a subluxation. The first time I say that word, the look on their face is “you treat a what?”. After I explain to them that it’s a vertebrae that is out of alignment and is irritating a nerve, they usually understand. The word “subluxation” comes from the Latin words meaning “somewhat or slight” (sub) and “to dislocate” (luxate). So the term vertebral subluxation means a slight dislocation or misalignment of the bones in the spine.
In reality, the subluxation is one of the main causes of pain and disease, and chiropractors are the only health professional that is trained to diagnose and treat them. Chiropractors can correct the misaligned vertebrae and return it to its proper position. This is what is called a chiropractic adjustment. The chiropractic adjustment is a quick thrust that is applied to a vertebra, either by the chiropractor’s hands or an instrument, which corrects the bone’s position or movement. The adjustments are able to relieve pressure and irritation on the nerves and restore joint mobility.
Now there are 5 components of a vertebral subluxation:
- Bone – The vertebra is either out of alignment, not moving correctly, or degenerating. This can lead to a narrowing of the spaces where the nerves pass through, resulting in irritation or impingement of the nerve itself. Chiropractors can determine this through things like x-rays or other tests.
- Nerve – There is a disruption in the normal flow of energy along the nerve fibers, causing the information traveling down the nerves to be distorted. This results in the tissues that are fed by those nerves to not function correctly because the messages they are receiving from the brain are distorted. Over time, this can lead to conditions, such as indigestion, asthma, headaches, bowel problems, and difficulties with other organ systems. Some chiropractors use special instruments called nervoscopes that can detect signs of nerve irritation.
- Muscle – Muscles both affect and are affected by the subluxation. Muscles hold the vertebrae in place, and they are innervated by the nerves that come out of the spaces between the vertebrae. So a subluxation irritates a nerve, the irritated nerve causes its muscles to spasm, the spasming muscles can pull the vertebrae further out of alignment which causes the nerves to be more irritated…you end up with a vicious cycle. Some chiropractors use surface EMG’s or other diagnostic tests to find such problems with muscles.
- Soft Tissue – The vertebral subluxations affect the surrounding tendons, ligaments, blood supply, and other tissues as the misaligned vertebrae pull on and compress the soft tissues. Over time, the soft tissues can become stretched out or scarred, leaving the spine with either a permanent instability or restriction.
- Chemical – The vertebral subluxation can cause chemicals to be released, called kinins, which produce inflammation or swelling in the area.
As a result of these 5 components of the subluxation, there are ways that you can tell if you have one of these subluxations:
- You can have pain or tenderness in the area.
- You can have muscle spasms or muscle tightness.
- You can have a joint that does not move as well as it should, i.e. you can’t move your back/neck as well as you used to or as well one way compared to another.
- You can have swelling or puffiness around that area.
- You can feel warmth around the area, i.e. that part of your spine feels warmer than another part.
If you feel like you may be suffering from a vertebral subluxation, you are welcome to contact me for further information. If you are not in my area, I would be more than willing to see if I could recommend someone who is. More
Chiropractors are physicians who treat disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems through the use of chiropractic adjustments to manipulate the spine. Manipulation of the spine and other joints in the body has actually been around for a long time. They discovered writings in China and Greece dating between 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. that mention manipulation of the spine and lower extremities to ease low back pain. Even Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., published a text discussing the importance of spinal manipulation. In one of his writings he stated, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”. Evidence of manual manipulation of the body has been found among the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Syria, Japan, the Incas, Mayans and Native Americans.
Modern-day chiropractic began in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer, a self-educated teacher and healer, performed the first spinal manipulation on a patient. Through spinal manipulation, he was able to restore the hearing of Harvey Lillard, a man who had been deaf for 17 years. Two years later, in 1897, Dr. Palmer went on to begin the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, which continues to train doctors of chiropractic. Today, chiropractic is the third largest area of medicine, next to dentistry, and is the largest Complementary and Alternative Medicine health profession.
Chiropractors diagnose and treat disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. They use traditional diagnostic testing methods (such as x-rays and MRIs) along with specific chiropractic techniques that involve manipulation of the joints of the body. Chiropractors also offer nutrition and healthy lifestyle counseling. Chiropractors elect not to prescribe medications, and they do not perform surgery; however, many chiropractors work closely with medical doctors and will refer a patient when necessary.
Chiropractors believe that all bodily functions are connected, and the healing process involves the entire body. They also believe a healthy nervous system, particularly the spine, is the key to a healthy body. The spinal cord carries information from the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore, it is responsible for all bodily functions including voluntary movements and involuntary ones, such as breathing. Disorders of the spine can affect how the body functions because these disorders affect this transfer of information. Chiropractors also believe the body is self-maintaining and self-healing as long as it is functioning properly. Currently as you sit here reading this post your heart is beating at a steady rate and controlling your blood pressure, your lungs are taking in enough oxygen to keep you awake, and your stomach is digesting that snack you just had without you having to think about it. That’s because your body is a self-regulating machine. Disease happens when something in your body prevents it from self-regulating.
Chiropractors believe there are 5 components to health. The first component is a healthy diet. In order to function properly, your body needs proper nutrition. The second component is exercise. In order to be strong and stable your muscles need to have exercise. The third component is sleep. Your body requires sleep in order to restore and regenerate. The fourth component is a positive mental attitude or spiritual life. They find time and time again that those people who are happier and who have a relationship with God are always healthier. And the fifth component is a properly functioning nervous system. You can have the best diet, exercise, rest and positive mental attitude, but if your nervous system is not working right, you cannot express health at 100%. I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Take a 20 year old man who’s on a basketball court playing basketball with his friends and he falls over and dies from a heart attack. Diet, he had, exercise he certainly had, positive mental attitude we’ll assume he had, and rest he had (what 20 year old doesn’t sleep well). The only component we didn’t address was the nervous system. A lot of times there is a re-entry problem in the heart. It’s an electrical disturbance that is controlled by, you guessed it, the nervous system. That’s just one example. As a chiropractor I believe the nervous system is the most important factor. I know this because you can eat as well as you can and have all of this in check, but without a properly functioning nervous system you won’t be able to fight off sickness, illness and disease. More