What Are Vertebral Subluxations?


vertebral subluxationThe very word “subluxation” can cause chiropractors to get into heated debates with medical doctors as well as other chiropractors. Many chiropractors will consider themselves “subluxation-based,” while others cringe at putting themselves in with that group.

Why is this word so controversial at times? What does it mean and how does it apply to your chiropractic care?

Technically, the word subluxation means something less than a total dislocation. Think of a shoulder dislocation. The arm hangs limply at the side of the body and it has to be put back in place to offer relief. Something less than a total shoulder dislocation would be a shoulder subluxation.

Since vertebrae cannot dislocate, the medical community declines to consider a vertebral subluxation as a real condition. However, chiropractors have adopted that word and don’t use it in the medical sense.

The chiropractic meaning is basically a vertebra that has moved out of its normal position and is creating pressure on a nerve. Since nerves control everything in your entire body, this misalignment can create a lot of different symptoms. Most often, people think of it in terms of neck and back pain.

Only 10% of your nerve fibers carry pain information. Pressure on the nerve, therefore, doesn’t always equal pain or even a symptom that you would recognize. For example, if the nerve supplying power to your stomach is compromised and your stomach is operating at 70% function, how would you know? Would you have stomach pain? Or just not digest food as efficiently as possible and then finally experience stomach-related symptoms years down the road?

When patients come into our office, we are interested in what symptoms they may have, but only so far as “will adjusting their spine help this problem?” Even something as common as low back pain is not always a chiropractic problem. We won’t know if we can help unless we do a consultation and examination to look for areas of the spine that are not functioning properly.

It’s during the examination process that we’ll look for areas of the spine that have nerves that match up with the symptoms you’re having. Some common complaints we know that chiropractic care will help, simply be removing the vertebral subluxations.

With some of the less obvious symptoms, we often aren’t told about them anyway. It’s only after a couple of weeks of treatment that the patient will mention, “Can chiropractic help with _________?” It’s usually something digestive or hormonal that they had no idea would be affected. “Ever since I’ve been getting adjusted, I haven’t had my regular problem with _________.” Music to our ears!

Chiropractic care only helps with one problem; vertebral subluxation. But the symptoms that can be caused by this condition are many. Chiropractors are the only health care providers that are on the look out for this condition.