Vertebral Subluxation – Understanding Chiropractic
Chiropractic is a science, philosophy and art.
First, chiropractic is the science of understanding that abnormal joint function due to misalignment of the spine (and extremities) as a result of trauma – major trauma such as childhood falls and injuries, car accidents, and athletic injuries; and minor trauma from the cumulative affects of postural stresses – these misalignments, known as vertebral subluxation, cause neurological dysfunction and degeneration of joint tissues.
Second, chiropractic is the philosophy that the body has a built in intelligence – an innate intelligence – that will always seek a state of homeostatic health. Chiropractic recognizes that this innate intelligence is what heals a cut, fights an infection, and runs the body’s myriad of complex functions to maintain health and fight disease. Chiropractic also recognizes that this innate intelligence can by interfered with by a condition called vertebral subluxation – the abnormal misalignment, position and/or function of spinal vertebral segments (and extremity joints).
Third, chiropractic is the art of assessing where the body’s inborn or innate intelligence is being interfered with by subluxation and correcting the subluxation through what is called chiropractic adjustments.
The Birth of Modern Chiropractic
There is evidence that some form of ‘manipulation’ has existed for thousands of years in ancient Egypt and China. From a more modern and scientific perspective, chiropractic was ‘discovered’ in 1895 by D.D. Palmer, a healer from Davenport, Iowa. Mr. Palmer theorized that if the spine became misaligned (subluxated), it would impact the health of organs or tissues downstream from the nerves that exited the spine at the level of the misalignment or subluxation. He tested his theory by examining and adjusting a man named Harvey Lillard, who had been suffering from deafness for many years.
Upon examining Mr. Lillard, Mr. Palmer found an area of what would later be described as subluxation. He then ‘adjusted’ that vertebra over a period of days; Mr. Lillard hearing was restored. At that point, Mr. Palmer thought he’d found ‘the cure for deafness’; upon hearing of this ‘treatment’, many people who were deaf flocked to his clinic. Finding and adjusting subluxations restored hearing to a small percentage of these deaf people who came to see D.D. Palmer; but these same people started healing from rheumatism, asthma, constipation, acne, headaches, back pain and many other health conditions – thus giving birth to chiropractic as we know it today.
How have chiropractic patients had miraculous recoveries from such diverse conditions as infertility, high blood pressure, hearing loss, and enuresis (bed wetting)? By freeing the master system of the body – the nervous system – from interference, that’s how.
Chiropractors correct mechanical stress to the spine (called vertebral subluxation) which creates irritation and interference to the flow of information across the complex and sensitive nerve system. This is the same reason why the healthiest families in the world, not to mention elite atheletes like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Jerry Rice, make regular chiropractic care part of their health regimen, not simply for pain relief.
The master control system for your body is your nerve system; consisting of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. While the practice of medicine is defined as the diagnosis and treatment of disease, chiropractic is dedicated to restoring the body’s ability to regulate and heal itself through normalized nervous system function. Rather than treating sickness with drugs or surgery, chiropractors examine and correct interference to the nervous system (called vertebral subluxation), ensuring that thier patients have a healthy, functioning nerve supply to the body. If your nerve system is not functioning fully free of interference, it is impossible to be truly healthy.
You might think of your spine as simply a series of bones, but the spinal column is actually a complex organ system. At its core, literally inside your spine, your spinal cord and nerve tissue transmits information, allowing your brain to monitor and coordinate the function of every cell, tissue, organ and organ system in your body. A chiropractor’s purpose is ensuring that the flow of vital information from your brain to your body occurs without interference.
The role of a healthy spine is to protect the nerve system from stress, allowing it to transmit information. Freely flowing information across your nerve system is an essential element for health. If not properly cared for, trauma or repetative stress to the spine will interfere with this flow of information. An unhealthy spine will create stress on the nerve system. This is why chiropractors have had such sucess with conditions as diverse as constipation, headaches, asthma, fertitily issues, ear infections, and prosopagnosia (the inability to speak).
The spine is made up of 24 vertebrae, or spinal bones. Each one of these is stacked on top of each other attached by a series of joints, including the disc. In this way, your spine forms a hollow column in which houses and protects your spinal cord. When each vertebrae is in a healthy position and allowed to move properly, there is no stress on the nerve system. This allows for proper regulation and healing.
When a vertebrae is jarred out of a healthy position, creating swelling, inflammation and ultimately nerve stress, the condition is called vertebral subluxation. The presence of subluxation in your spine interferes with the flow of information through your body, depriving you of the essential element of nerve supply.
Spinal trauma can be caused by many obvious things such as childhood falls (from monkey bars, trees, bicycles, horses, gymnastics and other sports), motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls and athletic injuries. However, more and more commonly, subluxations are caused by the cumulative stresses of every day life. Poor posture, sitting at a computer all day or in the car, poor sleeping positions, and other bad habits add together over time and also cause subluxation.
Why Should I Get Checked By A Chiropractor?
While some people are motivated to think about their health only when symptoms or a health crisis develops, much of the damage caused by subluxation itself is actually silent. While subluxation may result in devastating symptoms, research shows that that postural issues are powerful predictors of early death, even when other symptoms are not present. Just as when your body will suffer when lacking any functional or essential element, the deficiency resulting from subluxation is dangerous when left undetected or uncorrected.
The Adjusting Process
‘Chiro’ is greek for ‘by hand’, so chiropractic literally translates into ‘practice by hand’. It is important to understand why everyone who wishes to be truly healthy needs to be checked by a chiropractor regularly. Chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the spine,the nervous system and healthy body functions. Chriopractors correct subluxation allowing for proper nerve supply. Seeing your chiropractor regularly is a Bonfire Health Best Practice. While medicine is treating the disease of a sick person, the patients of chiropractors are focused on getting well and staying that way.
The changes associated with an injured joint or subluxation cause a decrease in normal joint motion, which results in decreased information being sent to the brain. This happens via receptors called proprioceptors. Proprioceptors send positive body signals to the brain. A decrease in information being sent to the brain (proprioception) is interpreted as stress by the nerve system. Negative information – called nociception – results in aberrant output from the brain; this is particularly significant when sustained over time – i.e. chronic subluxation and biomechanical dysfunction that’s left uncorrected.
Stress, whether emotional, chemical or physical (in the form Subluxation or other trauma) is responsible for lifestyle disease which kills 75% of all Americans. Through chiropractic adjustments, chiropractors are able to correct subluxations, restoring function and increasing positive body signals, therefore decreasing stress.