What is Subluxation? How does it affect the body?

Vertebral Subluxation

Vertebral Subluxation

What Causes Vertebral Subluxation? What are the most effective treatments?

Vertebral subluxation is a condition of the spinal column. Chiropractors and Medical doctors have differing definitions of subluxation. Medical doctors refer to “significant structural displacements” as subluxations, whereas chiropractors suggest that any disfunctional displacement of the spinal column should be referred to as a subluxation, whether or not it is “significant.” 

Spinal NerveSimply stated, vertebral subluxation occurs when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate spinal nerves. The nerves that come out from between each of the bones in your spine are referred to as spinal nerves. The pressure on the nerves can cause the nerves to malfunction and might interfere with the signals traveling over those nerves.

The World Health Organization, WHO, definines chiropractic vertebral subluxation as:

“A lesion or dysfunction in a joint or motion segment in which alignment, movement integrity and/or physiological function are altered, although contact between joint surfaces remains intact. It is essentially a functional entity, which may influence biomechanical and neural integrity.”

Spinal or vertebral subluxation has been controversial since 1895 when the phrase was first introduced.  Some chiropractors claim that subluxation affects many other systems of the body (physical, mental, emotional) and has dramatic effects on health and disease. However, others in the chiropractic profession reject this concept and do not use subluxation as a diagnositc tool.  Nonallopathic lesion is a phrase that has been commonly used in the United States and Canada instead of subluxation as a diagnosis.

What Areas of the Body are Affected with Vertebral Subluxation?

Vertebral Subluxation

Chart showing the corresponding body parts and organs effected by vertebral subluxation and possible symptoms (eg, croup, diarrhea, bladder problems, bronchitis, migraines, constipation, etc.)

According to Chiropractors who agree with the dramatic effects of subluxation on the body, multiple symptoms can occur as a result of the pressure placed on the spinal nerves.

For example, some chiropractors profess that subluxation pressure on the nerves in the cervical spine can result in headaches, migraines, allergies, head colds, arm pain, hand and finger numbness, vision problems, stiff neck and others.  For some it is believed that subluxation pressure on the thoracic vertebrae spinal nerves can result in middle back pain, difficulty breathing, asthma, liver conditions, stomach problems, gastritis, and other syndromes. Subluxation of the lumbar vertebrae, is thought by some to result in constipation, diarrhea, gas pain, menstrual problems, and pain or numbness in the legs, for example.

 

Spine Xray

Chiropractors use Xrays and spinal manipulation to correct spinal subluxations

What Do Chiropractors Claim to Do to Help Remedy Subluxation?
Chiropractors try to locate subluxations and reduce or correct them. They generally use X-rays to determine and make a diagnosis. The physical exam typically includes a variety of assessments, such as range of motion tests, palpation, reflex testing, muscle strength comparisons, and neurological and orthopedic tests focused on your complaint or goal.

Cervical Spine AdjustmentTreatment is generally done through a series of chiropractic adjustments specifically designed to correct the vertebral subluxations in your spine.  The chiropractic adjustment is a therapeutic manipulation that uses controlled force, leverage, direction, amplitude, and velocity directed at specific joints. With subluxation, the goal is to free the pressure that is placed upon the spinal nerve by moving the displaced bone, to bring the vertebrae into normal alignment.

 

Are Vertebral Subluxation Charts an Effective Diagnostic and Prescriptive Tool?
Research studies show chiropractic treatment can sometimes be a statistically significant method of treatment for relieving musculoskeletal pain, although more studies are needed. A 2004 Cochrane review by Bronfort and others found evidence that suggests spinal manipulation may be effective for migraine, tension headache and cervicogenic headaches.  Other similar studies found chiropractic care to be helpful in lower back pain and neck and shoulder pain, directly related to spinal or postural misalignment.

chiropractic subluxation

There is a controversy over the accuracy of subluxation theory and the use of charts as a diagnostic tool.

Although studies exist to show chiropractic treatment effective in relieving pain, at this time, there is no significant evidence to support the effectiveness of  subluxation theory as a diagnostic tool, and no evidence that using spinal manipulation and vertebral alignment is an effective treatment for other non-musculoskeletal syndromes or illnesses (such as cough, diarrhea, constipation, allergies, etc). Multiple studies show that using subluxation to cure illness or disease is not successful at a statistically significant level. Mirtz, and other researchers (2009) in a study entitled, “An epidemiological examination of the subluxation construct using Hill’s criteria of causation,” concluded:

“There is a significant lack of evidence to fulfill the basic criteria of causation. This lack of crucial supportive epidemiologic evidence prohibits the accurate promulgation of the chiropractic subluxation.”

chiropractic adjustmentAccording to Professor Philip S. Bolton of the School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Newcastle, Australia in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics,

“The traditional chiropractic vertebral subluxation hypothesis proposes that vertebral misalignment cause illness, disease, or both. This hypothesis remains controversial…. Animal models suggest that vertebral displacements and putative vertebral subluxations may modulate activity in group I to IV afferent nerves. However, it is not clear whether these afferent nerves are modulated during normal day-to-day activities of living and, if so, what segmental or whole-body reflex effects they may have.”


Keating and others (2005) concluded,

“The dogma of subluxation is perhaps the greatest single barrier to professional development for chiropractors. It skews the practice of the art in directions that bring ridicule from the scientific community and uncertainty among the public. Failure to challenge subluxation dogma perpetuates a marketing tradition that inevitably prompts charges of quackery. Subluxation dogma leads to legal and political strategies that may amount to a house of cards and warp the profession’s sense of self and of mission. Commitment to this dogma undermines the motivation for scientific investigation of subluxation as hypothesis, and so perpetuates the cycle.”

 

Conclusion and Summary
Vertebral subluxation or a nonallopathic lesion is a condition where one or more bones of the spine are out of alignment and are putting pressure on the spinal nerves.  This can be treated by spinal manipulation, physical therapy, or even surgery.  Traditional subluxation theory professes that subluxation can create other illnesses. chiropractic neckAlthough traditional chiropractic vertebral subluxation theory is popular, whether or not vertebral misalignment causes illness, disease, or both, in other areas of the body and whether chiropractic vertebral adjustment can eliminate this disease or condition, still remains uncertain, and not yet statistically significant and proven by scientific data.  It may very well be true, but currently there is no evidence to support traditional chiropractic subluxation theory.  However, a limited number of studies on chiropractic spinal manipulation have proven chiropractic treatment to be a  significant and cost-effective treatment for many cases of lower back pain, neck pain, migraines, tension headache and cervicogenic headaches. These studies were limited, however, and more studies are needed.

References
Bolton P (2000). “Reflex effects of vertebral subluxations: the peripheral nervous system. An update”. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 23 (2): 101–3. 

Bronfort G, Nilsson N, Haas M, et al. (2004). “Non-invasive physical treatments for chronic/recurrent headache”. In Brønfort, Gert. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD001878.

Brown R. President, British Chiropractic Association. BCA Statement on Vertebral Subluxation Complex. May 24, 2010. General Chiropractic Council Guidance on Claims Made for the Chiropractic Vertebral Subluxation Complex.

Hart, J, Reduction of Resting Pulse Rate Following Chiropractic Adjustment of Atlas Subluxation,  Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, March 3, 2014, pages 16-21.

Keating JC Jr, Charlton KH, Grod JP, Perle SM, Sikorski D, Winterstein JF (2005). “Subluxation: dogma or science?”. Chiropr Osteopat 13 (1): 17.

Gatterman, M. “The vertebral subluxation syndrome: is a rose by another name less thorny? The Journal of the CCA/Volume 36, No. 2/June, 1992, pages 102-104

Gatterman, M.,  One Step Further: The Vertebral Subluxation Syndrome. Dynamic Chiropractic, March 27, 1992, Volume 10, Issue 07.

Mirtz TA, Morgan L, Wyatt LH, Greene L. An epidemiological examination of the subluxation construct using Hill’s criteria of causation. Chiropractic & Osteopathy. 2009;17:13.

Zielinski E, & Blume N,  An Epidemiological Approach to the Effects Subluxation-Based Chiropractic Care Has on Managing CVD Risk Factors: A Case Study and Review of the Literature,  Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, November 4, 2013, pages 77- 99


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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer:  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

 

 

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The Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic CustomersWHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC? According to the General Chiropractic Council, chiropractic is “a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health.”

WHAT HAPPENS IN A CHIROPRACTIC SESSION?
Typically the chiropractor will ask about your symptoms, your general health and previous health challenges or symptoms.  He or she will give you an examination and examine your spine and posture.  The chiropractor will try to determine your source of discomfort or pain, and might choose to x-ray your spine.  The initial assessment is typically 45 minutes to 60 minutes.   The chiropractor will most likely describe a plan of treatment for you and may give you a spinal adjustment. If you are asked to undress you should be offered a gown.

Cervical spine adjustmentThe chiropractor uses a variety of manual techniques with the main technique being spinal manipulation. He or she might manipulate, muscles, bones, and joints around the spine. Usually this is not painful but there many be some discomfort around the joint. If you have significant discomfort, tell your doctor immediately.  You may hear loud sounds during manual manipulation. This is a normal part of manual manipulation.

 

WHAT IS THE THEORY AND HISTORY OF CHIROPRACTIC CARE?
Spinal SubluxationChiropractic was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer.  D.D. Palmer was a grocer, a magnetic healer and was interested in phrenology (diagnosing disease based on the bumps of the skull) and spiritualism. It is believed that Palmer discovered the principle of chiropractic when he allegedly cured a janitor of his deafness by manipulating his cervical spine (the neck). However, this may or may not be true since the hearing mechanism is not connected to the nerve passageways in the neck.

The term “chiropractic,” is translated to mean “done by hand” and was created by Palmer.  Palmer created the subluxation theory based on the principle that all disease is caused by subluxated bones, which 95% of the time are spinal bones, and which disrupt the flow of energy to the various areas of the body.  Palmer didn’t not base any of his ideas on research, but rather went directly to treating patients and to creating a school for training chiropractors in his methods.

 

The Benefits of Chiropractic

The benefits of Chiropractic care.

HOW DOES CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT HELP?
Chiropractic treatment has been very helpful to people all around the world for the management and relief of a variety of problems such as:

  • Back and Neck conditions
  • Leg Pain
  • Knee, foot and ankle pain
  • Shoulder and elbow pain
  • Arm and wrist pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep disorders
  • Repetitive Stress Disorders
  • Stress and Tension Disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Bursitis
  • Arthritis
  • and other Chronic Injuries

HOW EFFECTIVE IS CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENT
Research studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of  of Chiropractic treatment for migraine headaches, back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders and other disorders. Patient satisfaction surveys and research studies have been conducted to determine customer satisfaction on the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment.   Chiropractic care has a high success rate among patient satisfaction, and show that 90% of patients feel that their treatment has been effective. Chiropractic Effectiveness

Have you had success with chiropractic treatment? Are you a chiropractic doctor?  Maybe there is something that is not on the list that you would like to add.  Feel free to share your experiences.

ORGANIZATIONS
American Chiropractic Association
California Chiropractic Association
National Chiropractic Association
International Chiropractors Association

 

REFERENCES
Kaptchuk TJ, Eisenberg DM (November 1998). “Chiropractic: origins, controversies, and contributions”. Arch. Intern. Med. 158 (20): 2215–24.
A, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB (April 2011). “Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review”. J Headache Pain 12 (2): 127–33.

Ernst E (2011). “Chiropractic treatment for gastrointestinal problems: A systematic review of clinical trials”. Can J Gastroenterol 25 (1): 39–49.

Schneider M, Vernon H, Ko G, Lawson G, Perera J (2009). “Chiropractic management of fibromyalgia syndrome: a systematic review of the literature”. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 32 (1): 25–40. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2008.08.012

Cherkin D (November 1989). “AMA policy on chiropractic”. Am J Public Health 79 (11): 1569–70.

Smith M, Carber LA (2008). “Survey of US Chiropractor Attitudes and Behaviors about Subluxation”. Journal of Chiropractic Humanities 15: 19–26.
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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.