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(615) 893-1254
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(615) 893-1254

Subluxation

During the report of findings, I will explain the cause of your symptoms. Biomechanically, when a subluxation occurs in the spine, the body has 5 components that are found: 
1. Abnormal position and motion of the spinal vertebrae 
2. Abnormal nervous system function 
3. Abnormal muscle function 
4. Abnormal soft tissue function 
5. Abnormal function of the spine 
What does this mean to you? Let me break down each component of the subluxation and then at the end, I will give you the definition of a subluxation in a short, concise statement. 
1. Abnormal position and motion of the spinal vertebrae: The vertebrae will move posterior, inferior, and laterally (left or right), which produces lateral flexion of the vertebrae to one side producing the abnormal position of the vertebrae. The vertebrae affected will become hypomobile as a result of its abnormal position. A hypomobile vertebrae will not be able to move as much as a vertebra in a normal position. Because the hypomobile vertebrae are present, the vertebrae above and below this segment must move more than normal (they become hypermobile). This phenomenon is called spinal kinesiopathology
As a chiropractor, we detect and correct hypomobile vertebrae rather than hypermobile vertebrae. By putting mobility back into the hypomobile segment in the direction it needs to return to its normal position, we are able to stabilize the spine thus allowing the hypermobile vertebrae to return to its normal mobility since it no longer needs to compensate for the hypomobile vertebrae. 
2. Abnormal nervous system function: Due to the subluxation, the IVF (Intervertebral Foramina) through which the spinal nerve exits the spine at each segment (two for each level - left and right) becomes smaller at the level of the subluxation on the side affected. For example, if the vertebrae become subluxated to the left, the IVF decreases on the left at that level. The purpose of the IVF is to allow the spinal nerve to exit the spine without nerve compression. The IVF encroachment causes the nerve at that level to touch the side of the IVF, which produces nerve irritation, inflammation, and edema. Patients may experience numbness, burning, or pins and needles. This phenomenon is called neuropathophysiology
While most patients will ask if the nerve is pinched, only about 10-15% of patients have a "pinched" nerve also referred to as a compression lesion. Most cases involve a nerve irritation or facilitative lesion due to a subluxation. 
3. Abnormal muscle function: When the vertebrae becomes subluxated, muscles on the subluxated side of the spine will become too tight causing muscle tension or spasm, and the muscles on the opposite side of the subluxation will be too loose to function properly to maintain structural integrity. This phenomenon is called myopathology
Muscle reeducation is an important part of rehabilitation of the spine. The one set of muscles must be trained to release (the muscle tension/spasm side) and the other set must be taught to do the amount of work needed rather than the substandard work they have been performing. 
Most people who exercise regularly will hold their adjustments for a longer period of time than inactive people due to muscle tonicity. 
4. Abnormal soft tissue function: Due to a subluxation, the disc, ligaments, and other connective tissues are affected. This is called histopathology
Biomechanically, when a subluxation occurs, the disc acts like a fulcrum on a seesaw. When the disc is pushed down on the subluxated side of the vertebrae, the disc will shift to the opposite side creating a disc wedge (the disc will appear taller on the opposite side of the subluxation). This is the normal function of a disc and does not have any contact with the spinal cord. If the vertebrae are subluxated on the left, the disc will appear smaller on x-ray to the left and larger on the right. The disc consists of a fibrous outside material, which surrounds a gelatinous interior, which allows for slight movement. 
A disc can decrease in height called degenerative joint disease. The disc can also bulge or herniate into the spinal cord. A disc bulge is where the disc material is intact but pressing posteriorly touching the spinal cord. Often these patients have symptoms in their arms and/or legs. A disc herniation (also called rupture) is where the disc has a fragment pressing on the spinal cord. The fragment is detached from the rest of the disc.

A decreased disc or disc bulge can be effectively treated with traction and chiropractic adjustment. The patient will usually experience a decrease in symptoms within four-six weeks of treatment with these conditions.

Ligaments and other connective tissue will be affected from a subluxation in addition to the disc. When these tissues are affected, there is inflammation and swelling which can produce an increase in the tissue temperature to the touch. Ice for 15 minutes at the affected site is recommended and can be repeated each hour if needed. Heat is never recommended for this condition since heat or ice applied longer than 20 minutes will increase swelling, inflammation, and symptoms.

According to research, the soft tissue repair will take at least three months to heal after all inflammation has left joint. Even after visible inflammation has reduced, inflammation in deeper tissues will be present. Repeated injury to the same area will increase healing time.

5. Abnormal function of the spine: The subluxation will cause vertebrae hypomobility which if left untreated, can affect one or more levels of the spine. For instance, if the subluxation is not corrected at C5 eventually the entire neck and upper back can become hypomobile. How many people have to use the rear view mirror or the entire upper body in order to back up their car?

When the lack of mobility has been present for enough time, the body may decide to fuse one or more segments with bone spurs (calcium deposits) to try to stabilize the area. Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) is inflammation of a joint as a result of lack of mobility in that joint. When the joint has been inflamed without any relief for an extended period of time, an osteophyte or bone spur will develop and cause degenerative changes in the spine which are irreversible at this time. When the vertebrae are moving as they should, no arthritis will develop in that area.

When an adjustment is performed on a subluxation, mobility is restored to the joint allowing inflammation to be alleviated allowing healing to occur and stability to return to the segment. Research of long-term chiropractic patients who receive treatment even without symptoms shows an absence or decrease in arthritis in their spine compared to patients who never receive chiropractic treatment or only receive treatment when they are symptomatic.

Subluxations are defined as hypomobile vertebrae which produce IVF encroachment, nerve irritation/inflammation, muscle imbalance, disc wedging, ligament/connective tissue edema, and degenerative changes. The hypomobility can be a result of a physical trauma, emotional stress, or chemical imbalance. Physical trauma can be due to repetitive motion, slips/falls, near slips/falls, car accidents, sports injuries, work injuries. Emotional stress such as worry, negative thoughts, fear, and depression can also cause an increase in muscle tension. Chemical imbalances are caused by drugs - prescription or recreational, alcohol, toxins such as smoking, and pollution.

Smokers have a 3:1 incidence of back pain compared to non-smokers.

Any muscle or ligament in the body is attached at some point to an osseous structure (bone) and can affect joint mobility negatively if injured or tight. ‚Äč


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