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Treatment for Vertebral Subluxation

Vertebral Subluxation is the medical term used when one or more of the bones of the spine have moved out of position and are creating pressure on, or irritation to, the nerves in the spine.

Spinal nerves are the nerves between each of the bones in the spine. Any pressure or irritation on these nerves can cause them to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling around them.

The nervous system controls and coordinates all the functions of the body. If there is interference with those signals, then parts of the body will not get the proper messages and will not be able to function as they should. In other words, some part of the body will not be working properly and it is the responsibility of a chiropractically trained Spinal Therapist to locate such subluxations and reduce or correct them. This is done through a series of adjustments specifically designed to correct those vertebral subluxations in the spine.

The Vertebral Subluxation Complex

Subluxations are really a combination of changes going on at the same time. These changes occur both in the spine and throughout the body. For this reason vertebral subluxations are often referred to as the 'Vertebral Subluxation Complex' or "VSC" for short.

Five Categories

Within the VSC, various things are happening inside the body simultaneously. These changes, known as components, are all part of the VSC. Chiropractically trained Spinal Therapists commonly recognize five categories of components present in the VSC, they are :-

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The Muscle Component 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The Chemical Component is when all these components of the VSC are acting on the body, and therefore causing some degree of chemical changes. These chemical changes can be slight or massive depending on what parts of the body are affected by the subluxations. This component is often known as biochemical abnormalities.

The Nervous System must be functioning Free of Interferences.

Chiropractically trained Spinal Therapists have known about these dangers for many years. Today, even more scientific evidence is highlighting the dangers of subluxations and the health benefits of correcting them. To be truly healthy, it is vital that the nervous system be functioning free of such interferences. This is why we strive to educate and support as many families as possible. Such dialogue often enables us to prevent problems even before they arise. Problems that often occur during childhood and even from birth! Problems that do not manifest themselves until the family members concerned grow older.

The Highest Level of Health Possible

Our goal is to allow your body to return itself to the highest level of health possible by correcting VSC. Chiropractically trained Spinal Therapists are health professionals trained in the detection, location, and correction of the VSC.

Subluxation Degeneration

Subluxation causes changes to the structure as well as to 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 spinal therapy 1an ongoing degeneration known as "Subluxation Degeneration". By understanding the type and amount of the changes, it is possible to estimate how long specific subluxations have been present in a spine.

nerves between vertebraeThis 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. 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.

Near Normal

x-ray view of the neckThis 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 left of the screen. This image is one of 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. Each of the disc spaces between C2 (second bone in neck) and C7 are thick and even, this again is normal. The front portions (left 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 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 flattening or reverse curve in the neck and on a side view inspection of the neck, the middle of the ear will often be greater than 1 inch in front of the middle of the shoulder. 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. Individual boney motion may be abnormal but overall motion is probably not affected. The initial reconstructive or stage 1 care for a phase one can take up to 18 months in extreme circumstances, however in general we find that 3 to 6 months is far more normal. 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 DegenerationPhase 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 (wear and tear) and may be noticed by the patient when they put their head back or roll their neck; a sound similar to "pouring milk on rice crispies" may be heard. 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. The initial reconstructive or stage 1 care for patients in phase two can take from 1.5 up to 2.5 years, although this is rare, but in general we find 6 to 9 months is far more normal. 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. Bony/calcium changes on the spine are more common 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. The initial reconstructive stage 1 care for patients in phase three can, in extreme cases, take between 2.5 and 3. 5 years, although this is rare. We usually find that between 9 and 12 months is far more normal. This does not mean that at the end of this time that any or all of the bony/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, or movement, 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 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 serious 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 bony/calcium changes, disc spaces appear blurred, and the bones themselves appear fused. In this situation 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.


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