Vertebral subluxation is a chiropractic term referring to a misalignment, or minimal dislocation, of the bones of the spinal column (vertebrae). When a vertebra moves out of position, it can create pressure on a spinal nerve. This interferes with communication among the nerves, possibly setting the stage for an injury or the beginning of a disease process. Chiropractors are professionals who have gone through extensive training in order to be able to detect vertebral subluxations and correct them through manual manipulations called "adjustments."
Chiropractic care is based on the premise that vertebral subluxations impede nerve flow through the spine by placing abnormal pressure on nerve ends. This inappropriate impingement is believed not only to cause muscle pain, but to interrupt nerve messages to all the systems of the body, possibly resulting in problems with everything from circulation to digestion.
Causes of Vertebral Subluxation
Daily life is full of habits, emotions, processes and occasions which can lead to vertebral subluxations. Some of these are listed below:
- Poor posture
- Stress or anxiety
- Falls or sports injuries
- Vehicular accidents
- Infections and illnesses
Any of these can result in a vertebral subluxation that may, in turn, cause any number of medical disorders.
Treatment of Vertebral Subluxation
Chiropractic medicine is designed to correct vertebral subluxations as a means toward promoting and maintaining good health. Doctors of chiropractic medicine concern themselves with the entirety of the spine, not only the area in which the patient experiences pain. They typically recommend regular treatments so that adjustments can be made before minor subluxations worsen. Chiropractic adjustments of vertebral subluxations are based on the belief that the body works as a whole and has an innate ability to heal itself.
Vertebral subluxation adjustments usually take about 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes moist heat, electrical stimulation or ultrasound treatments are administered before the adjustment takes place in order to relax the patient's muscles and make the body more pliable and receptive.
While some chiropractic movements may be smooth and akin to massage, others are sudden and abrupt. At times a cracking sound is heard during a chiropractic adjustment. This sound is called "crepitus" or "cavitation" and is not indicative of any harm being done to the body. After treatment, the patient may be advised to apply heat or ice to the affected region, take over-the-counter pain medication, rest or engage in mild exercise.
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine
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