What truly differentiates doctors of chiropractic from any other healthcare
professional is that chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat subluxations.
The word “subluxation” comes from the Latin words meaning “somewhat or slight"
(sub) and “to dislocate” (luxare). So the term ‘vertebral subluxation’ means a
misalignment of the bones in the spine which leads to altered biomechanics and
nervous system function. All joints in the body can be diagnosed and treated for
When a subluxation occurs, a chiropractor can correct the misaligned bone by
returning it to its proper position. This procedure is called an adjustment. The
chiropractic adjustment is a quick thrust applied to a joint. Adjustments are often
accompanied by an audible release of gas that sounds like a “crack.” Even though
the sound is unusual the sensation after an adjustment is relieving. Occasionally,
minor discomfort is experienced, especially if the surrounding muscles are in
spasm. Most often, this discomfort is felt as muscle soreness, much like after
intense exercise, as the body returns to its proper alignment. There are times
when the audible “cracking” does not occur. As long as movement and position of
the joint is restored the treatment is successful.
Treatment could involve several adjustments over a course of time, in addition to
massage, physical therapy, stretching exercises, or strengthening exercises.
Keeping the problem fixed and preventing its recurrence is just as important as the
There are five components that contribute to any joint subluxation.
Bone Component-where the joint is either out of position, not moving properly, or
is degenerating. In the spine this can lead to a narrowing of the spaces between
the bones through which the nerves pass; often resulting in irritation or
impingement of the nerve.
Nerve Component-is the disruption of the normal flow of energy along the nerve
fibers, causing the messages traveling to and from the brain along the nerves to
become distorted. These distorted signals cause the tissues that are fed by those
nerves, such as muscles, organs and body systems, to function abnormally.
Muscular Component-since nerves control muscles and muscles move bones a
subluxation can irritate a nerve that causes a muscle spasm. That muscle spasm
can pull on the joint causing more of a subluxation which further irritates the nerve.
Soft Tissue Component-a subluxation will also affect the surrounding tendons,
ligaments, and blood supply as the joint tugs and squeezes the connective tissue
with tremendous force.
Chemical Component-due to all these disruptions the body releases a class of
chemicals called “kinins,” which increase inflammation in the affected area.
These changes get progressively worse and over time can lead to chronic pain,
chronic inflammation, arthritis, muscle knots, bone spurs, loss of movement, as
well as muscle weakness and spasm.
Adjustment of the Spine & Extremities