Nature's Way Back To Health
Serving patients needs for
over 21 years in the Lehigh Valley.
What is a
Subluxation and what does it do to me?
the simple explanation.
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
this affect you? Your nervous system controls and coordinates
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
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
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.
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:
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
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.
is also involved. Since the muscles help hold the vertebrae in
place, and since nerves control the muscles themselves, muscles are
an integral part of any VSC. In fact, muscles both
affect, and are affected by the VSC. This component
is known as myopathology.
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.
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 biochemical abnormalities.
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
Understanding the ongoing process of subluxation, and the effect
time plays on the subluxated spine.
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.
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.
Two Subluxation Degeneration
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.
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.
Four Subluxation Degeneration
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.
It should be
noted that the above are common guidelines and not hard rules.
Every person is dynamic and different. People degenerate at
different rates and heal at different rates. The further along your
spine may be with subluxation degeneration the more strenuous and
time consuming your road to improvement will be. For this reason we
always stress early care to stop and prevent the advancement of
subluxation degeneration. Of course, if you're not under
chiropractic care, the best time to start is NOW!
Your Spine and Nervous
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.
Click on an area of the spine below to see what portions of the body are
innervated by nerves from that area.
C1 - C2
Head, face, upper neck,
inner & middle ear, sympathetic nerve system, sinuses, eyes,
auditory nerves and more.
Mid and Lower Neck
C3 - C7
shoulders, thyroid, tonsils, teeth, outer ear, nose, mouth, vocal cords,
T1 - T12
heart, coronary arteries, esophagus, trachea, lungs, bronchial tubes,
gallbladder, liver, stomach, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, ureters,
adrenal glands, small intestines, and more.
L1 - L5
intestines, appendix, abdomen, bladder, reproductive organs, lower back, lower
extremities, ankles, feet, and more.
Basebone or Tailbone
tail bone, buttocks, rectum, anus, and more.