The term subluxation means minor misalignment however the effects on the human body as a result of a subluxation in the upper cervical spine can be far from minor. In the simplest of terms, a subluxation is when one or more vertebrae (bones in your spine) move out of line and create pressure on spinal nerves. Spinal nerves are the nerves that come out from the vertebrae in your spine. Pressure on the nerves can cause interference with the signals traveling through them – leading to numerous health related problem.
Chiropractors commonly recognize five categories of components present in the Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC).
- Spinal Kinesiopathology – is where the bones of the spine become stuck, don’t move enough, or move too much.
- Neuropathophysiology (abnormal nervous system function) – nerves can become overexcited and hyperactive. Due to the way the spine is engineered, abnormal spinal function can irritate, pinch, rub or choke the delicate tissue of the spinal cord and nerve roots.
- Myopathology (Abnormal Muscle Function) – is when over-developed muscles on one side of the spine cause individual vertebrae to rotate and lose proper function. When muscle function declines muscles that support the spine respond in different ways, the spine can weaken or even atrophy.
- Histopathology (Abnormal soft tissue function) – inflammation and swelling due to injured disc accompany the accumulation of blood and lymph – causing a rise in temperature.
- Pathophysiology – when there is a trauma to a joint, one of the ways your body responds is the stabilization of the area by forming new bone! With time, calcium deposits build up, eventually as abnormal bony growth. This arthritic ‘splinting’ of bones is nature’s attempt to stabilize the injured joint.
The Vertebral Subluxation Complex may be one of the most regular yet overlooked source of health problems. Chiropractors are trained in identifying and treating vertebral subluxations. This is done through a series of chiropractic adjustments specifically designed to correct the vertebral subluxations in your spine. Chiropractors are the only professionals who undergo years of training to be the experts at correcting subluxations.
Proper spinal alignment is essential for healthy and pain-free living. When there is a trauma to a joint, one of the ways your body responds is the stabilization of the area by formation of new bone. With time, calcium deposits build up, eventually as abnormal bony growth. This arthritic ‘splinting’ of bones is nature’s attempt to stabilize the injured joint. If left untreated, subluxation takes the form of ongoing degeneration known as ‘subluxation degeneration’ and can lead to chronic health related problems.
As these x-rays show, there is a progressive degeneration that can be halted, or slowed, with proper chiropractic care.
NORMAL PHASE 1 PHASE 2 PHASE 3
NORMAL – Proper spinal curves permit normal turning and bending. Openings between joints allow nerve roots to exit the spine without interference. The edges of the bones are smooth and well defined. Equal disc spacing is a sign of healthy spinal function.
PHASE ONE – Loss or normal curves and misalignment restrict or exaggerate normal ranges of motion. ligament and muscle strength is reduced. Even with nerve irritation and soft tissue inflammation, pain or other obvious symptoms may not be present.
PHASE TWO – Years of accumulated calcium deposition are now visible. Bone spurs attempt to fuse malfunctioning joints. Adjacent surfaces are rough and uneven. Joint instability is accompanied by continued nerve irritation and disc degeneration.
PHASE THREE – After years of neglect, complete fusion has immobilized the joint. Obstructed nerve openings cause permanent nerve irritation as soft tissue degeneration continues. This irreversible condition is usually associated with other chronic health problems.
Science and Research
Over 100 years ago, chiropractic health care was founded by Dr. D.D. Palmer. He had a simple theory: that good health can be sustained naturally, without the use of drugs or surgery, by removing vertebral subluxations and allowing the nervous system to function properly.
His theory has stood the test of time. This section will briefly explain how the theory was proven by taking you “behind the scenes,” into the field of chiropractic research.
1895–Present: Scientifically Proven
Since the first chiropractic adjustment in 1895, the chiropractic profession has rapidly grown to be the third-largest field of health care behind medicine and dentistry. The reason for the growth of chiropractic is simple: chiropractic is based on sound, scientific principles that have been proven with thorough research.
Investigations and inquiries have been conducted worldwide by government agencies, universities, health-care facilities, and private- and public-sector research organizations. The following paragraphs summarize some of the landmark research studies that have resulted in widespread recognition of chiropractic as a sound health-care choice.
Government of New Zealand. The New Zealand Commission Report was published in 1979 and was the culmination of two years of interviews from health-care experts on the efficacy and safety of chiropractic. The government of New Zealand funded the study, which concluded that modern chiropractic is a “soundly-based and valuable branch of health care in a specialized area.”
Wilk, et al, vs. American Medical Association (AMA) Lawsuit. Another inquiry that further validated chiropractic came about in 1987 through an antitrust suit filed by four doctors of chiropractic against the AMA. A federal appellate court judge ruled that the AMA had engaged in a “lengthy, systematic, successful, and unlawful boycott” of chiropractic.
During the legal proceedings, studies comparing chiropractic care to medical care were presented that showed how chiropractors were “twice as effective as medical physicians, for comparable injuries, in returning injured workers to work at every level of injury severity.”
Since the court findings and conclusions were released, a growing number of medical practices, hospitals, and health-care organizations in the United States now include the services of chiropractors.
Ontario Ministry of Health. In 1993, the Ontario Ministry of Health published the Manga Report, which was a review of literature on the most effective and cost-effective treatments for of low-back pain. After reviewing all available international evidence, the researchers concluded that chiropractic is “greatly superior to medical treatment in terms of scientific validity, safety, cost-effectiveness, and patient satisfaction.”
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR). In 1994, the AHCPR of the United States Department of Health and Human Services released guidelines for the management of lower-back pain.
The guidelines, which were intended to assist primary-care physicians, were developed by a panel of 23 professionals, including medical doctors, chiropractic doctors, nurses, experts in spinal research, and physical therapists. The panel concluded, among other things, that chiropractic treatment (specifically, spinal manipulation) is recommended for acute low-back problems in adults and should be pursued (in most cases) before pharmaceutical or surgical treatments.
Present-Future: Ongoing Research
Health-care practitioners in all fields rely heavily upon data made available as a result of clinical research. As the chiropractic profession continues to grow, so does our need to conduct research. The acceptance of and the increase in the utilization of chiropractic care depends largely upon research addressing questions of effectiveness, safety, practicality, and cost-effectiveness.
Who Does The Research?
The following is just a sampling of organizations, publications, and private and public institutions where chiropractic research may be conducted.
There are entire organizations devoted to chiropractic research (e.g., the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research, the Consortial Center of Chiropractic Research), as well as journals (e.g., the Chiropractic Research Journal, the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research).
In addition, there are research departments associated with each of the 23 chiropractic colleges around the world (e.g., the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, the National University of Health Sciences). Professionals from different organizations commonly collaborate on research projects.
Research has also been conducted around the world by governmental organizations (e.g., the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Ontario Ministry of Health), academic institutions (e.g., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Welsh National School of Medicine), medical journals (e.g., the British Medical Journal, the Journal of Family Practice), and private research organizations (e.g., RAND, the Gallup Organization).
What Do Chiropractors Study?
Topics of research vary widely and include anatomy, neurology, biomechanics, neurophysiology, instrumentation, public health, geriatrics, and human performance. The fundamental goals of the researchers are to promote and further chiropractic education and health care.
The purpose of chiropractic research has been (and still is) to provide information needed to document and improve chiropractic health care worldwide. Our profession has seen advances once thought impossible due to the impact of scientific research.
For example, federal grants for chiropractic research are now a reality. The Department of Defense formed a committee to introduce chiropractic services into the United States military. Several managed-care organizations now recognize us as qualified primary-care providers. And there is an ever-growing public awareness of the benefits of chiropractic care.
Feel free to do your own research— at work, at school, at your health club or rec center. Ask around. You will hear countless success stories on how chiropractic has helped people recover from an accident, an injury, a tense period in their life, etc., or how chiropractic has helped them develop new, healthier lifestyle habits.
Collect more data by making an appointment with us today. You will be pleased with the results.
The writings of Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.), Galen (130-200 A.D.), and even ancient manuscripts of the Egyptians, Hindus, and Chinese reveal some principles common to chiropractic. Its place in modern health care is largely attributed to Dr. Daniel David Palmer, who founded the first chiropractic college in Davenport, Iowa, in 1895.
In the late 1800s, Dr. D.D. Palmer was a healer and a teacher trying to understand the cause and effect of disease. His first chiropractic adjustment was performed in 1895 on a man who was deaf. The loss of hearing was associated with his back “giving out” while working several years prior to meeting up with Dr. Palmer. Dr. Palmer was able to restore his hearing by realigning the man’s spine.
The second such adjustment provided relief for another patient who was suffering from heart trouble. Dr. Palmer theorized that “if two diseases, so dissimilar as deafness and heart trouble, came from impingement, a pressure on nerves, were not other diseases due to a similar cause?”
He began developing his adjustment techniques and was soon getting results with many different conditions, from colic to ear infections to headaches. Dr. Palmer went on to found the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Iowa. Because of its success in healing, the new profession grew quickly.
All 50 states and many countries recognize chiropractic as a health-care profession. Today, there are more than 50,000 chiropractors in the United States alone, and there are 26 chiropractic colleges worldwide. Chiropractic is one of health care’s fastest-growing fields simply because it’s safe, natural, drugless, non-invasive, and effective.
By Astrid Baldrich DC