Vertebral Subluxation – What are the effects?

Virtually every cell, tissue, organ and system of your body is controlled and regulated by your nervous system. Vertebral subluxations cause interference to the delicate nerve tissue and can distort the vital information being transmitted from the brain to the body (efferent communication) and from the body to the brain (afferent communication). This in turn can affect muscle balance, the function of organs, and the chemicals and hormones they produce.

Pain and other symptoms are often just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ and may occur late in the process, if at all. Only about 10% of your nerves can actually perceive pain while the remainder are transmitting life sustaining information around the body. Much like undetected high blood pressure, subluxations can exist without causing any obvious symptoms.

Uncorrected subluxations can also lead to adaptive changes in the spinal joints, bones and inter-vertebral discs often termed osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, or ‘wear and tear’. This process is often incorrectly attributed to age – properly functioning joints should provide a lifetime of friction-free movement. These osteoarthritic changes can in many cases be halted and even reversed with appropriate chiropractic care.

Distorted nerve communications can be a cause of many other health problems beyond just headaches and back pain. Some symptoms arising from nervous system interference may seem totally unrelated to the spine, for example digestive or respiratory problems, infertility, incontinence, poor concentration and memory, mood swings, and broken sleep patterns.

This is not to say that all disease or dysfunction is a result of subluxation alone. Disease can occur with, because of, or despite subluxations. However, subluxations always reduce the body’s innate ability to express life and function. Our lifestyle, environment, nutrition, toxins, genetic makeup, and even attitude also influence our health and well-being.

The chiropractor’s primary role is not to treat disease or symptoms but to improve your nervous system function thus allowing your whole body to perform as well as possible. A growing number of athletes use chiropractic care as a regular part of their training for injury recovery, prevention, and optimum performance. In fact many people who are not obviously unwell or suffering are surprised to feel even better after chiropractic adjustments.

Chiropractors address a fundamental and often overlooked cause of health problems, not merely the resulting symptoms.

The effects of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex on the nervous system can be categorised into segmental and global alterations, including:

  • Compressive Lesions – spinal vertebrae pinch or choke nerve tissue, diminishing signals to and/or from organs or tissues.
  • Facilitative Lesions – If spinal vertebrae chafe, stretch, or irritate nerve tissue then signals going from or to the affected organ or tissue can be over-excited.
  • Dysafferentation (altered input) – If spinal joints no longer move through their normal range of motion this reduces mechano-receptive input and increases nociceptive signals to the brain (the cerebellum in particular). This alteration to homeostatic integration has been shown to have wide ranging effects on posture, co-ordination and balance, along with mood and emotion, memory and other cognitive functions, elevated stress hormone levels and increased susceptibility to disease and degeneration (through spino-cerebellar-cortical loops).
  • A detailed summary of scientific literature pertaining to chiropractic and the neurological pathways affected by the vertebral subluxation can be found in ‘The 14 Foundational Premises for the Scientific and Philosophical Validation of the Chiropractic Wellness Paradigm – revised edition’ by Dr James L. Chestnut, B.Ed., M.Sc., D.C. (2003).

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