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What Is Chiropractic?

World Health Organization defines it as: "A health care profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health. There is an emphasis on manual techniques, including joint adjustments, with a particular focus on subluxations."
-World Health Organization, Guidelines on Chiropractic, 2005.

The human body is designed to be a self-regulating and self-healing mechanism controlled by the nervous system. The spinal column is designed to protect the vital connection between the nervous system and the body. Therefore, through Chiropractic care, an optimal functioning spine and nervous system equals optimal health.

What Is a Subluxation?

The central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal cord. Spinal nerves branch off of the spinal cord and control every cell, tissue and organ in your entire body. In order for your body to regulate and heal properly, messages must be able to flow freely from the brain to the body, and from the body to the brain via the nerves. A subluxation occurs when a spinal bone (vertebrae) becomes misaligned, causing “pinching” or irritation of a spinal nerve do to inflammation ; cutting off the communication from the brain to the body and vice versa. This results in interference to the nervous system and body malfunction (dis-ease). 

When a subluxation is present, your body is unable to self-regulate and self-heal as it was designed to. A subluxation can be present for years without producing any signs or symptoms, or it can manifest as a multitude of symptoms no matter what your age. Unfortunately, it’s estimated only 8-14% of all nerves can actually sense pain. This means that you may have a subluxation present and not know it; some refer to the subluxation as “the silent killer” for this very reason. The only way to find out if you have subluxations and to have them corrected, is to see a principled chiropractor who is trained to assess the nervous system for subluxations and correct them with specific chiropractic adjustments.

The Vertebral Subluxation Complex

Your spinal column surrounds and protects the delicate spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord are protected by bones because any damage to the central nervous system or peripheral nervous system has a traumatic effect on the body. “The nervous system (neurology) includes the central nervous system (“CNS”), which is composed of the brain and spinal cord, the peripheral nervous system (“PNS”), which is composed of the nerves and ganglia, and the sense organs, such as the eye and the ear. Its function is to control and coordinate all the other organs and structures, and to relate the individual to their environment.” - Gray’s Anatomy 

Listed below are the cause and effects of a subluxation:

•    Trauma to the spine
•    Spinal Kinesiopathology (loss of movement and proper position of spinal bones)
•    Histopathology (cellular dysfunction within the disc causing release of inflammatory cytokines, phospholipase, lysosomal enzymes)
•    Inflammation
•    Fixation of the vertebra (stuck)
•    Neuropathophysiology (improper function due to pressure or irritation to the delicate nerve)
•    Myopathology (Changes to the muscles such as spasm and atrophy caused by structural imbalance and irritation to the nerves)
•    Pathophysiology (abnormal tissue function, immune system compromised, and organ malfunction due to degeneration overtime)

What Causes Subluxations? 
Image by Anthony Tran

Emotional Stress

Emotional stress can cause vertebral subluxations? That is correct! The impact of emotional stress on the body for both optimal function and healing is well documented. When under stress, your body’s sympathetic nervous system “fight or flight” is on overdrive. Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to name a few are being released causing systemic inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation not only effects the nervous system, but also other systems within the body such as the musculoskeletal system. Low back muscle tension and neck tension can change the biomechanics within the skeletal system. This imbalance within the body puts more strain on the weight bearing disc and once again can cause vertebral misalignment and nerve pressure.

Image by Sammy Williams

Physical Stress

This is the most common cause of vertebral subluxations. There are macro and micro traumas. Macro traumas are sudden events with high impact and force to the spine which include: slip and falls, sports injuries, car accidents and childbirth trauma for both mother and child. Micro traumas occur gradually overtime and are less noticeable such as: poor sleeping positions, bad office ergonomics, looking down at a phone repetitively, poorly positioned school backpack or purse and much more postural habits. All of these traumas cause damage and inflammation to the vertebral disc which in turn misaligns vertebrae, placing pressure on the nerves. 

Industrial Smoke

Toxic Stress

See a common theme yet? Inflammation! We live in a world where harmful chemicals are all around us. They are in the foods we eat. They are in the products we clean our house and body with. There are even harmful chemicals in the water we drink and air we breathe. When these chemicals are ingested, it begins to change our body’s healthy chemistry. Once again, this causes an inflammatory response to all systems within the body causing imbalances throughout. Muscle contractions around the spinal column, inflammation within the spinal joints, tension and chemical changes to the spinal ligaments, can change the biomechanics of the spinal unit ending in a vertebral subluxation.

What Is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

A chiropractic adjustment is the art of using a specific force in a precise direction, applied to a joint that is subluxated, "locked up," or not moving properly. The purpose of this safe and natural procedure is to eliminate interference to the nervous system by restoring  proper biomechanics at the subluxated joint. Once proper alignment is achieved, inflammation and stress at that joint is eliminated. And spinal function and overall health is restored.

"We get sick because of something inside going wrong! We get well because of something inside going right!"

- B.J. Palmer Developer of Chiropractic

The Beginners Guide to Chiropractic 
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