What is Subluxation?
Subluxation is a term
used in the chiropractic field to describe what happens
when one of the vertebrae in your spine moves out of position.
The word “subluxation” is derived from the
Latin words meaning somewhat or slightly (sub) and to dislocate
(luxate). When this happens, the misaligned vertebra creates
pressure and stress on the spinal nerves, blood vessels,
and surrounding muscles. This pressure and stress can cause
an imbalance in the body’s normal processes as the
nerves in the spinal column extend to the entire body and
its organs. As time goes on and the uncorrected subluxation
settles, the damage to the nerve gets progressively worse
and then different stages of subluxation degeneration set in. Regular
visits to a licensed chiropractor can help to reduce the
effects of subluxation and may be necessary maintain good
health and physical fitness.
What causes subluxation?
There are two types of
ways that a subluxation can occur: unique instances or
regular actions. A car accident, fall, sudden jar, or trauma
are all examples of unique instances that may cause a subluxation.
The other occurrence of subluxation comes from regular
actions such as improper sleeping position, poor posture,
or incorrect lifting processes
How is subluxation corrected?
Chiropractors are specialists
in correcting subluxation and other misalignments. A chiropractor
can restore the misaligned vertebrae to their proper position
in the spinal column. They do this manually by using the
chiropractic procedure known as spinal adjustment. Your
chiropractor, in most cases, will use his or her hands
in applying corrective pressure to the spine in a specific
direction and location. The manual force or thrust helps
restore the alignment and mobility of the vertebrae. In
some cases, the chiropractor may use instruments to detect
a subluxation and adjust the spine. Under normal circumstances,
chiropractic adjustments are painless. In cases of trauma,
such as car accident, some discomfort may be experienced
due to inflammation. It is also common to feel a brief
sensation in the extremities immediately following an adjustment
due to the sudden decompression of the affected nerve root.
Different phases of 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. In this
phase, the normal forward curve is in the neck can be lost.
The spine can even develop a reverse curve in the neck.
Although overall motion is probably not affected, chiropractic
reconstructive care for a phase one subluxation can take
from 6 to 18 months. 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 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 small motions. In addition, spines with phase two subluxation
degeneration often 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. 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. Chiropractic reconstructive
care for patients in phase two ranges from 1.5 years to
2.5 years. 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 gone untreated
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. Calcium changes on the spine are abundant 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. Chiropractic reconstructive care for patients
in phase three ranges from 2.5 years to 3.5 years. This
does not mean that at the end of this time that any or
all of the 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 standpoint.
As before, if phase three subluxation degeneration is left
unchecked it slowly advances into the final phase.
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 grave 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
calcium changes, disc spaces appear blurred, and the bones
themselves appear fused. In this scenario 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 chiropractic patients in phase four
report significant improvements in symptoms, conditions,
mobility and quality of life.