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What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a branch of the healing arts which is based upon the understanding that good health depends upon a normally functioning nervous system (especially the spine, and the nerves extending from the spine to all parts of the body). “Chiropractic” comes from the Greek word Chiropraktikos, meaning “effective treatment by hand.” Chiropractic stresses the idea that the cause of many disease processes begins with the body’s inability to adapt to its environment.
It looks to address these diseases not by the use of drugs and chemicals, but by locating and adjusting Subluxations in the vertebral column which are causing improper physiological, biomechanical and organic functioning via compression of the nerves and spinal cord.
The conditions which doctors of Chiropractic address are as varied and as vast as the nervous system itself. All chiropractors use a standard procedure of examination to diagnose a patient’s condition and arrive at a course of treatment. Doctors of Chiropractic use the same time-honored methods of consultation, case history, physical examination and x-ray examination as any other doctor. In addition, they provide a careful chiropractic structural examination, paying particular attention to the spine.
The examination of the spine as the cause to evaluate structure and function is what differentiates the Chiropractor from other healthcare specialists. Your spinal column is a series of movable bones which begin at the base of your skull and end in the center of your hips and which encase and protect your spinal cord and nerve roots. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerve roots extend down the spine from the brain to the sacrum and exit through a series of openings. The nerves leave the spine and form a complicated network which coordinates and controls every cell, tissue, organ and system in your body.
Accidents, falls, stress, tension, illness, disease, toxins, overexertion, and countless other factors can result in a displacements or derangements of the spinal column (Subluxations), causing irritation to spinal nerve roots. These irritations are often what cause malfunctions in the human body. Chiropractic teaches that reducing or eliminating this irritation (Subluxation) to spinal nerves can cause your body to operate more efficiently and more comfortably.
Chiropractic also places an emphasis on nutritional and exercise programs, wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting physical and mental health. While chiropractors make no use of drugs or surgery, Doctors of chiropractic do refer patients for medical care when those interventions are indicated. In fact, chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists and other health care professionals now work as partners in occupational health, sports medicine, and a wide variety of other rehabilitation practices.
All Healthcare professionals will agree on one thing, your central nervous system controls, organizes and regulates every other system, tissue, cell and hormone in the body. The central nervous system can be negatively affected by Subluxations. Chiropractors Analyze the central nervous system through vertebral alignment and then make an adjustment which increases the body’s physiological adaptation potential to any given insult.
Chiropractic’s efficacy and power come specifically through the Adjustments. The Adjustments are made to the levels of the spine where the Subluxation process is affecting your central nervous system.
What Is A Subluxation And What Does It Do To Me?
In simplest terms, a subluxation (a.k.a. Vertebral Subluxation) is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate spinal nerves. Spinal nerves are the nerves that come out from between each of the bones in your spine. This pressure or irritation on the nerves then causes those nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling over those nerves.
How does this affect you? Your nervous system controls and coordinates all the functions of your body. If you interfere with the signals traveling over nerves, parts of your body will not get the proper nerve messages and will not be able to function at 100% of their innate abilities. In other words, some part of your body will not be working properly. It is the responsibility of the Doctor of Chiropractic to locate subluxations, and reduce or correct them. 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.
Now, the detailed explanation.
Subluxations are really a combination of changes going on at the same time. These changes occur both in your spine and throughout your body. For this reason chiropractors often refer to vertebral subluxations as the “Vertebral Subluxation Complex”, or “VSC” for short.
In the VSC, various things are happening inside your body simultaneously. These various changes, known as “components,” are all part of the vertebral subluxation complex. Chiropractors commonly recognize five categories of components present in the VSC. These five are:
The osseous (bone) component is where the vertebrae are either out of position, not moving properly, or are undergoing physical changes such as degeneration. This component is sometimes known as kinesiopathology.
The Nerve Component is the malfunctioning of the nerve. Research has shown that only a small amount of pressure on spinal nerves can have a profound impact on the function of the nerves. This component is scientifically known as neuropathology.
The Soft Tissue Component is when you have misaligned vertebrae and pressure on nerves resulting in changes in the surrounding soft tissues. This means the tendons, ligaments, blood supply, and other tissues undergo changes. These changes can occur at the point of the VSC or far away at some end point of the affected nerves. This component is also known as histopathology.
The Chemical Component is when all these components of the VSC are acting on your body, and therefore causing some degree of chemical changes. These chemical changes can be slight or massive depending on what parts of your body are affected by your subluxations. This component is often known as biochemicalabnormalities.
Chiropractors have known about the dangers of subluxations for over one hundred years. Today, more scientific evidence is showing the dangers of subluxations and the health benefits of correcting them. To be truly healthy, it is vital that your nervous system be functioning free of interference from subluxations. Our goal is to allow your body to return itself to the highest level of health possible by correcting VSC. Chiropractors are the ONLY health professionals trained in the detection, location, and correction of the VSC.
This is a representation of one type of subluxation. A subluxation, as defined by the Association of Chiropractic Colleges is: “A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health.” When a subluxation occurs it causes nerve interference in some portion of the body affected by those nerves. The subluxation causes changes to the structure as well as the nerves. These changes get progressively worse as time is allowed to work on the subluxated area of the spine. These changes take the form of ongoing degeneration known as “subluxation degeneration”. By understanding the type and amount of changes, it is possible to reasonably estimate the time subluxations have been present in a spine. Having this information is useful in understanding the time and effort needed for correction.
This is a side x-ray view of the neck. As with all the pictures you will see on this page, the patient is looking to the right of the screen, so you are viewing the right side of their neck. We will call this picture a “near normal” spine. Compare this spine with the ones you will see below on this page. Notice the normal forward curve of the neck. This curve helps absorb shock. Notice how each of the disc spaces between C2 (second bone in neck) and C7 are thick and even, this again is normal. Also notice how the front portions (right on the x-ray) of each of the vertebrae (called the ‘body’ of the vertebrae) are fairly square with clear and well defined borders. This type of arrangement is normal in the neck. Normal vertebrae in other parts of the spine also have similar characteristics to what we see here. When subluxations occur and are left uncorrected, ongoing relentless changes occur that result in damage to the structure and function of the spine along with nerve damage and the resulting problems caused from improper nerve supply.
Phase One – Subluxation Degeneration
Phase One Subluxation Degeneration is seen in subluxations that have been present for up to twenty years. This phase is characterized with a loss or change in the normal curve in the spine. On this example you can see that the normal forward (lordotic) curve is lost. This spine even has developed a reverse curve in the neck. The disc spaces have also begun to exhibit a slight change in shape. One good point is that the bodies of each of the vertebrae (the square part in front) still exhibits clean clear borders. Segmental motion may be abnormal but overall motion is probably not affected. Chiropractic reconstructive care for a phase one can take from 6 to 18 months. More than 80% of people with Phase One Subluxation Degeneration have no pain. Therefore, if left uncorrected, phase one continues to progress with time until it eventually reaches the next phase.
Phase Two – Subluxation Degeneration
Phase two subluxation degeneration is normally seen in subluxations that have been present between 20 and 40 years. This phase has some of the same characteristics of the previous phase including a loss of normal curvature and position as well as an alteration in segmental motion. In addition, spines with Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration many times show a reduction in the patient’s range of motion in that area. X-rays of a phase two begin to show calcium changes or buildup at certain levels of the spine. These changes are sometimes called by many names including spurs and arthritis. Disc spaces between the affected vertebrae are noticeably narrower and may appear to be flattening out. Although most people with Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration may not exhibit any symptoms, some may start to feel stiff or achy. Chiropractic reconstructive care for patients in phase two ranges from 1.5 years to 2.5 years. Again, if Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration is left uncorrected it slowly advances to the next phase.
Phase Three – Subluxation Degeneration
Phase Three Subluxation Degeneration is caused by subluxations that have been continuing on for between 40 and 65 years. This phase has all of the attributes of the previous phases, only worse. The curvatures are abnormal, the disc spaces are vastly decreased and changed. Calcium changes on the spine are abundant in this phase. Normally, people in phase three have a restricted range of motion and probably exhibit symptoms of some kind. In phase three the vertebrae show obvious changes and mutations in shape. Projections made of calcium, sometimes referred to as “spurs or lipping”, can be readily seen on x-ray. Chiropractic reconstructive care for patients in phase three ranges from 2.5 years to 3.5 years. This does not mean that at the end of this time that any or all of the calcium changes will be gone. In many instances the body adapts to the presence of the calcium and positive changes can only be measured from a functional standpoint. As before, if Phase Three Subluxation Degeneration is left unchecked it slowly advances onward into the next phase.
Phase Four – Subluxation Degeneration
Phase four subluxation degeneration is seen with subluxations that have been raging on uncorrected or altered for over sixty five years. Phase four is a grave condition that will negatively affect the patients longevity and quality of life. The massive amount of neurological damage caused by years of subluxation that have lead to phase four are probably taking a serious toll on this person’s health status. X-rays in phase four show serious severe structural changes. Vertebrae exhibit massive calcium changes, disc spaces appear blurred, and the bones themselves appear fused. In this scenario the patient will have a severe restriction of range of motion in addition to probably a number of other health issues. Reconstruction may not be possible in phase four, but care can be directed to some reduction in subluxation with the goal of improvement in the quality of life remaining. Patients in Phase Four Subluxation Degeneration have a serious situation both structurally and neurologically, but they are certainly not beyond hope. Many patients in phase four report significant improvements in symptoms, conditions, mobility and quality of life.
Your nervous system controls and coordinates every function of your body. It is your nervous system that allows you to adapt to, and live in your environment. A large portion of your nervous system passes through your spine. It is your spinal cord that acts as the major cable exiting your brain, travels down inside your spinal column and branches off into spinal nerves at various levels of your spine. These spinal nerves then exit between individual spinal vertebrae and go to the various parts of your body. To be healthy it is essential that your nervous system function properly and free from any interference caused by subluxations. Subluxations can cause interference to the nervous system at any point along the spine where the nerves exit. This can adversely affect the function of various parts of your body, and ultimately your health. The chart below is designed to give you a look at just some of the relationships between the areas of your spine and your nervous system. Keep in mind that your nervous system is much more complex than can be shown here.
If you are suffering and you have a spine, we can help!