Doctors of Chiropractic are the only health care professionals who are thoroughly trained in the detection, location and correction of vertebral subluxations. It requires years of training and clinical practice for a chiropractor to master the analysis and procedures needed to understand and correct subluxations.
The information presented here is only a small preview into the scientific and clinical understanding of subluxation. We present these pages just to offer an initial orientation into the complexity effects of subluxations. If you have additional questions, please ask us.
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.
As subluxation progress with time they have a continuing and worsening affect of the spinal structures. This process can be followed and is categorized by the amount of degeneration seen on spinal x-rays.
This x-ray is a side view of a “near normal” neck. Compare this spine with the ones you will see below on this page. The forward curve of the neck shown here is normal. This curve helps to absorb shock. Notice how each of the disc spaces between the bones are thick and even. This too is normal. Also make note of the clear and well defined borders of each vertebrae in this picture. These types of findings are normal in the neck. However, normal vertebrae in other parts of the spine have similar characteristics to what we see here. When subluxations occur and are left uncorrected, changes occur that cause damage to the structure and function of the spine. As a result, one will experience nerve pressure and the problems caused by improper nerve supply.
Phase One Subluxation Degeneration
Phase One Subluxation Degeneration is seen when subluxations have been present in the spine for up to several years. This phase is characterized by a change in the normal curvature of the neck. On this particular example, you can see how the normal forward curve of the neck has diminished. The disc spaces have also begun to change in height and shape. In this phase, the vertebral bodies usually appear to have clean, clear borders.
Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration
Phase two of spinal degeneration is normally seen with subluxations that have been present for a much longer period of time. This phase has some of the same characteristics as the first phase of degeneration including a decrease in the normal curvature and alignment of the spine. This phase includes a change in segmental motion. In addition, spines in the second phase of subluxation degeneration experience a loss in range of motion. X-rays of a phase two spine show calcium deposits along the bone margins. It is this type of bone change we call arthritis or spurring. Disc spaces between the affected vertebrae are visibly more narrow and even appear to be flattening out. Again, if phase two is left uncorrected it will slowly advance to the next phase of spinal degeneration.
Phase Three Subluxation Degeneration
Phase three spinal degeneration is caused by subluxations that have been present for up to sixty years. This phase contains all characteristics of the previous phase with areas of the spine that have gotten progressively worse. The curvatures are abnormal, the disc space is markedly decreased. Calcium changes on the spine are more common and typically much larger. Normally, people in phase three experience a lot of symptoms from the changes occurring in their spine. Their range of motion has decreased, prohibiting adequate movement. Chiropractic reconstructive care for patients in this phase of degeneration may require up to several years of regular treatment. At the end of this time, these patients will not demonstrate a decrease in the calcium changes that have already taken place in the spine, however, the body learns to adapt to the presence of additional calcium and progress is measured from a functional point of view. As before, if phase three is left untreated it will eventually advance into the fourth phase.
Phase Four Subluxation Degeneration
Phase four will undoubtedly affect one's quality of life. This phase is characterized by both structural and neurological issues. The large amount of neurological damage created by years of subluxation is now beginning to take a serious toll on this patient's health condition. X-ray pictures in phase four show marked, severe structural changes. The vertebrae exhibit large calcium spurs, disc spaces appear extremely thin and the bones may even appear to have fused. In this phase of degenerative change, one will have a severe decrease in range of motion. These patients usually have a number of health problems. Complete correction of subluxated segments may not be obtainable, but emphasis is placed on reducing the subluxations with a primary goal of improving spinal function and thus influencing quality of life. Many patients in phase four report significant improvements in all aspects of their life. *It should be noted that the phases of spinal degeneration are only guidelines to what most commonly occurs. Each and every patient is different. People degenerate at different rates and heal at different rates. The further along the degenerative process has progressed, the more time consuming your road to improvement will be. It is for this reason, we stress regular spinal check-ups to stop and prevent these problems from advancing. If you aren't currently under chiropractic care, be proactive and schedule an appointment with us today!