Vertebrae are the 33 individual, interlocking bones that form the spinal column.
When a vertebrae becomes misaligned or moves out of its normal position, this is referred to in the chiropractic profession as a subluxation, or more precisely, the Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC). VSC can be caused by a wide range of issues ranging from a minor slip or bump to a car accident or any sudden trauma. When a vertebrae is subluxated, it begins to put pressure on nerves, blood vessels and other surrounding structures.
The subluxation interrupts the natural nerve pathways that carry messages to and from the brain. In addition, as time goes by and the subluxation remains untreated, the spine and surrounding features such as discs can begin to degenerate.
This degeneration becomes more difficult to reverse as time goes by and the surrounding muscles, nerves and bones begin to adjust to the new shape. Because the body is a remarkable machine, it will start to accommodate these changes by compensating in other areas. The longer the subluxation is untreated, the longer it will take for treatment to return the vertebrae to its normal position.
A vertebral subluxation can be identified by its five components:
- Spinal Kinesiopathology (movement of the bones)
- Neuropathophysiology (nerve dysfunction)
- Myopathology (muscle changes)
- Histopathology (tissue damage)
- Pathophysiology (abnormal growth)
Chiropractors are experts in the manipulation of soft and hard tissue. Small, quick movements to the spine can reposition the vertebrae into its natural position. Through treatment, a vertebral subluxation can be corrected back to healthy functionality.
A vertebral subluxation is the result of spinal bones with improper motion or position affecting nerve communications between your brain and your body.
A vertebral subluxation is a stress response. Muscles go into spasm. Spinal bones lock up. And adjacent nerves are choked or chafed. This interferes with the control and regulation of your body. This garbles communications between the brain and parts of your body.
Distorted nerve communications can be an underlying cause of many health problems beyond just headaches and back pain. For example. Interfere with nerve impulses going to or from your stomach: stomach problems.
Vertebral subluxations have a great number of different causes all of which the average individual is exposed to daily. These causes can be described in terms of physical, chemical, and emotional causes.
Physical causes include acute trauma to the body, repetitive motions affecting the spine, bad postural habits, improper workstation habits and design, and weak or imbalanced spinal musculature.
Chemical causes include poor dietary and nutritional practices, drug and alcohol use and abuse, and the ingestion of chemical toxins in the foods we eat, air we breath, and water we drink. Chemicals which are harmful to the body decrease the body’s ability to function optimally and reduce the ability to successfully adapt to and withstand internal and external stresses – making us more susceptible to spinal subluxations and the consequences of these subluxations.
Emotional causes refer to stress. Excessive stress or inadequate stress management skills can deplete the body of the ability to sustain normal functions. The impact of emotional stress on physical health is well documented in the medical research and can have devastating effects on the immune system, making the body susceptible to injury and disease.
You can have vertebral subluxations and not even know it. Like the early stages of tooth decay or cancer, vertebral subluxations can be present before warning signs appear. The results of a thorough examination can show the location and severity of any vertebral subluxations you may have.
Doctors of chiropractic learn a number of different chiropractic techniques and procedures to correct vertebral subluxations. Most of the procedures involve the application of a chiropractic spinal adjustment to the affected vertebrae.
Chiropractic adjustments involve the application of a quick but gentle corrective force into the “subluxated” spinal vertebrae. The adjustment can be delivered manually through the hands or can be applied through the use of a specialized tool. Subluxations generally require multiple treatments or adjustments for complete normalization to occur. Similar to straightening teeth, correcting malfunctioning and misaligned vertebrae requires time for the tissues to accept this new position as “normal”.