What all Chiropractors locate and treat is a subluxation. But what is it? Subluxation is a joint pathology in the spine that has now begun to irritate nerves. It is sometimes called the "subluxation complex" because it involves numerous tissues of the spine along with two or more vertebrae.
All subluxations are caused by: trauma, stress (mental and physical), and environmental toxins. When vertebral joints become irritated from these factors they begin to produce inflammatory chemicals. If left unchecked, these chemicals can leak into the nerves which lie very close by. Over time these chemicals irritate and alter the function of the nerves. The result can alter the person's health! What is important to note is during this process the vertebral joints become stiffened, usually painful and will eventually fixate.
These processes can go for years unnoticed. Once a subluxation is present the body will do whatever it takes to protect the nerves. Since the vertebrae are not moving correctly, and this aberrant movement damages them, the body will try to stop the movement of the involved joints altogether. The nerves begin telling the vertebral joints to build adhesions, stiffen, and engage the musculature to help stabilize the weakened areas of the spine. The patient's body will also try to reduce this chronic inflammation by releasing specific stress hormones which can affect many bodily functions and can even alter the mood of the individual.
The fixation and muscle tightness are meant to keep the patient from utilizing irritated joints so the body can try to heal them; just like cones and signs placed on a damaged highway keep you away from workers repairing the road. It was meant to be a temporary fix so that the body can repair the joints. Often the damaged joints cannot be repaired. If so, the body will actually begin to remove the vertebral joints by fusing them together through degenerative processes. Therefore, if proper movement is not restored with an adjustment, the vertebrae will begin to degenerate and ultimately fuse. This statement is important because patients are consistently told arthritis is an "old age" disease and its normal for the elderly to have it. In actuality arthritic processes can start in the early to late teens. Subluxation can begin after birth if the birthing process was traumatic (i.e. C-section, vacuum suction, forceps). If individuals were checked by the chiropractor early in life, whether they had pain or not, many of these processes could be stopped, delayed and at the very least slowed down long before they become debilitating. See the adjustment for more information on how we restore this life giving motion. Once subluxation and joint inflammation are present, other areas of the spine will try and compensate for damaged vertebrae by becoming hypermobile or fixating to support weakened areas. This is how degeneration spreads throughout the spine.
Ultimately the patient will at some point become alarmed with symptoms, most commonly pain, muscle tightness, and joint stiffness especially in the morning. Sometimes the spine starts to "catch" with sharp pain while bending or twisting. Sometimes the muscles along the spine lock up with spasm. The symptoms can still ebb and flow and be different for everyone but one day they will not go away and the patient will be forced to seek care. Unfortunately they are still unlikely to see the chiropractor first and often more time is wasted treating symptoms and not the cause of all these processes. Remember these types of symptoms more often are the result of a subluxation left untreated for a long period of time. Chiropractors are the only doctors trained to eliminate these problems before they can cause serious irreversible damage to the spine. If you want to be checked for these subluxations or if you are experiencing some of these symptoms then make an appointment today.