How Does the Vertebral Subluxation Complex Affect the Body?

The Vertebral Subluxation Complex describes the way in which the vertebral joints move or shift out of alignment and put pressure and stress on the nervous system which inhibits the body’s ability to function properly. Chiropractors can treat and correct subluxations to restore a healthy spine.

What is the vertebral subluxation complex, and how is it diagnosed in a person?

Dr. Luke Stringer: That was quite a mouthful. I wanted to discuss this with our listeners, just because I wanted people to understand exactly what chiropractors essentially are taught to diagnose and treat. To break it down, vertebrals are obviously joints within your spine. Subluxation essentially means, imagine every joint in your body, if we’re talking about spine specifically, should be able to move freely, and stably in all planes of motion. When that joint is moving freely and stably, and you supplement that with balance strength in the muscle groups, then we should be able to function at an optimal level. No sickness, no disease.

However, the vertebral subluxation complex essentially means that a joint or a group of joints can shift. Now they can shift in, technically, six to seven different ways. I’m not going to get into too much detail, because you’d switch off and stop listening.

But imagine a joint should move freely, and stably as we just discussed. But a subluxation simply means that joint stopped moving. It becomes aberrant in its motion, or it can shift out of alignment. When a joint stops moving and, or it shifts out of alignment, it impairs how the body functions on a visceral level. Essentially, it can put stress and tension onto the nervous system. Obviously, we all know the nervous system controls everything we do, to feeling, function of the entire body. If we’re subluxated, it can cause anything from physical, to biomechanical, to physiological distress and disease.

If your body, spine is subluxated, that joint isn’t going to move well. That’s going to create stress and tension on the joint, the tissue, the nerve, and this can lead to dysfunction within the body. Could it lead to pain? Absolutely. Could it lead to other things such as those metabolic diseases, poor mood, sleep, energy level, metabolism? Absolutely.

You can diagnose it several different ways. There’s a specific instrument you use within a technique of chiropractic, these are the real hard core chiros, and it’s the Gonstead technique. It’s developed, again, I don’t want to get too deep, by a guy up in Wisconsin called Clarence Gonstead. It’s pretty cool actually that he created this whole clinic that was shaped like a spine, it’s got a runway, and he had these lodges, where all these extremely difficult cases came, and he treated them. He developed a tool called the Nervoscope. Essentially it picks up on heat differentials within the spine. Obviously, if a nerve’s compressed, it’s going to create heat, through inflammation, essentially. A Nervoscope would find that, and then from there, you’d have to level that the joint that is subluxated.

Another way to diagnose them is essentially just go through an examination, take the joint through range of motion. If a joint isn’t moving as it should, well, that’s a subluxation and objectively, you want to see that subluxation so you take some x-rays because to see is to know, and it’s objective.

Now, subluxation can also be global subluxation, we’ve just discussed this, the importance of the neck curve, in our previous podcast with ergonomics in kids. Let’s imagine your whole entire cervical spine is shifted two inches forward and your neck curve is non-existent. Well, that’s a subluxation too. And those individual level groups of joints and entire parts of the spine, are essentially going to create dysfunction in the body. I think the three ways we just kind of went through are really going to pinpoint where that subluxation is. And then from there, as a chiropractor, you would decide the best manner of treatment.

Can the vertebral subluxation complex affect immune system function?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. Obviously when we’re talking about this, we’re kind of getting on a couple of different types of levels. You have homeopathic medicine and allopathic medicine. Allopathic medicine is Western medicine, it’s drugs, surgery. Homeopathic is kind of more the innate ability of the body to function. When your body’s under a state of stress, it’s just not going to function as well, because it increases cortisol levels, it blocks insulin reception, it plays with our hormones. So, if we’re chronically stressed, then your body is not going to be able to fight sickness and disease as well as a body that isn’t under stress.

We know if a joint is shifted and or the spine is shifted, that’s going to put us in a stress state. If we’re in a stress state, you aren’t going to be able to function at an optimal level. Could this be getting sick more than people that aren’t in a stress state? Absolutely, subluxations can contribute to immune system function in a detrimental level.

And how does the vertebral subluxation complex affect gastrointestinal function?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Great question. When you’re talking about the nervous system, we have obviously different types of nerves. We have sensory nerves, so that’s you pinch a nerve and it essentially emits pain. So, you know, you slept funny, you woke up, you subluxated in the mid portion of your neck, you’ve got neck pain. However, we also have asensory nerves and those don’t give off pain. 85% of your nervous system is asensory. If you’re subluxated and the nerve that is under stress, isn’t sensory, doesn’t have a sensory portion of the nerve, and obviously it’s not going to give out pain signals. So, what happens? Well, it means the organ, so we’re talking about the GI system specifically, isn’t going to function as well because it’s under stress. We’ll kind of use that hose analogy. If you’re watering your garden and your hose isn’t kinked, then that water is going to flow really well, right, so that’s doing its job. Imagine you had a kink in the hose, or someone is stepping on it, water is still going to come out, but it’s not going to function as well. Essentially that’s what the subluxation complex is doing on those nerves within the lower part of your thoracic spine, upper part of your lumbar spine.

We treat many patients who come in at their wits end. They’ve changed their diets, we’ve kind of modified this, that, and the other. When we look into their spine and we find subluxations, particularly in that thoracic lumbar region, right where your kind of lower mid back meets the upper part of your lower back. When those joints are locked up and subluxated, that affects how the intestines essentially functions. That joints are putting stress on that nerve, which is not going to function. We have a lot of success stories with people, gassy kind of irregular bowel movements, just poor digestion and subluxation can absolutely cause those symptoms.

Can it affect brain function, and as a result, impact other body functions by blocking messages to the brain?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Actually, there’s a really cool piece of research done out in Australia about a vertebral subluxation kind of research society. I actually know the chap who kind of did this. Essentially what they did is they did live brain scans of people who got adjusted, and then they watched essentially how that brain functions after adjustments. People who were getting adjusted, particularly near the cervical spine, they would watch on this brain scan. They could watch their brain essentially interact with one another.

So, can subluxation affect brain function? It depends on what brain function is, what you’re talking about specifically. There’s going to be like gray matter and rhomboid function. Not necessarily, that’s going to become more from, trauma and injury. But other bodily functions send messages to the brain, absolutely. So, movement in your spine creates over 80% of stimulation in the brain.

So, let’s imagine joints within your spine aren’t moving. Well, they’re not going to create synopsis within that nerve root. If that joint is not moving and that nerve is not being stimulated, then it’s not going to send messages up to the brain to process and then back to the spine to do that function.

Specifically, if your spine is subluxated and that joint isn’t moving and that nerve isn’t being stimulated, then yeah, it’s going to affect how it sends a signal, efferent signal out the joint, up the spine, into the brain, get it processed and back down. Yes, subluxation in the spine can affect messaging from the joint specifically into the brain, absolutely.

And lastly, can chiropractors treat people with vertebral subluxation complex and help restore normal function?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. Any chiropractor who is worth his salt is going to address the vertebral subluxation complex, treat it and correct it. Now how they do it is another story. But chiropractors, when they go to school will learn nervous system and spinal specialists, and essentially every chiropractor is educated and trained on how to diagnose, treat a vertebral subluxation complex and obviously it’s case dependent. But you should be able to restore function to that joint and part of the spine in most people, unless they’ve had a huge trauma or are extremely degenerative, or they’ve got a congenital issue within the spine. But yeah, chiropractors if you’re going to hang your hat, you hang it on correcting subluxations and restoring function to people’s lives without drugs or without surgery.

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