Subluxation in the traditional sense of chiropractic is defined as a rotated vertebrae that is impacting the spinal nerve, which originates from the inner peripheral foramina. The impact and pressure on the nerve can affect the muscles, organs, or anything else that the spinal nerve is connected to.
Some traditional chiropractors use a “foot on the hose” metaphor to describe the effect of subluxation. For example, the hose water is on, and if you apply pressure by stepping on the hose, the amount of water that gets through to the other end is affected. This of course refers to the spinal nerve being the hose, and pressure from the rotated vertebrae being the foot. In essence, the subluxation of a vertebrae is interfering with the optimal “flow” of the spinal nerve path.
At South Pointe Chiropractic we do not treat “subluxation” – musculoskeletal pain has a wide range of causes, and during an initial examination we assess our patients and develop a treatment approach. We utilize diversified chiropractic techniques, which is an evidence based methodology that is proven to be effective treating a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions.
What Causes A Subluxation?
Traditional chiropractors point at many stressors that can affect the spine and nervous system, some of these include:
- Physical Stressors: Falls, sports injuries, traumas, working out, repetitive movements
- Chemical Stressors: Environment, pollution, nutrition intake
- Mental Stressors: Depression, anxiety, anger, financial troubles, divorce, loss of job
- Mechanical Stressors: Daily life activities, repetitive movements, posture, incorrect sitting position at desk job, heavy lifting during manual labor, bio mechanical imbalances
How Do You Know If You Have A Subluxation?
Chiropractors who treat subluxation traditionally use high tech devices or an x-ray to tell patients that they have a subluxation. In reality, there is no way to know if your spinal nerves are being compressed / pinched without doing a diagnostic nerve conduction test.
A nerve conduction test consists of attaching electrodes at opposite ends of a nerve pathway and sending a pulse through it. The test can determine if an actual blockage or compression of the nerve is occurring based on how strong the pulse is conducted between the two electrodes.
Even if a nerve is being effected, this would be considered a neuropathy, which is another form of nerve compression, not a subluxation.
There is no way to know if a patient has a nerve compression or conduction issue without doing a diagnostic nerve conduction test or having an MRI.
Subluxation In Medical Terms
There is also a medical definition of subluxation.
Luxation – dislocation of the joint, often occurring from an injury due to falling, auto accident, or participation in sports.
Sub – Latin root means under or below
Subluxation means a partial or incomplete dislocation. Medical providers do not diagnose this often, most commonly being elbow and shoulder subluxations. If the shoulder has been injured or dislocated, you are more likely to have subluxations of that shoulder in the future.
Taking another look at the traditional chiropractic view, with the medical definition in mind, applying this ideology to the spine means a partial dislocation of the spine. Subluxation of the spine is a lot worse sounding than what is occurring, the spine is not actually dislocated.
One of the main reasons patients with pain symptoms seek out chiropractic care is because it does not rely on the usage of over the counter medications or surgical procedures.
The focus on adjustments, correct functional movement, and patient education is capable of treating the root cause of pain symptoms for lasting relief.
If Not Subluxation, What Is Causing Pain?
An injury or functional movement hinderance of the spine may cause pressure against a nerve and have a negative effect on the body. If this is the case, the effect can be seen on an MRI such as a disc bulge pressing against the nerve, or radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is a wide range of symptoms that can be caused by pinching of a nerve root in the spinal column.
Many traditional chiropractors will do an initial examination on a patient and determine a subluxation is present based off an x-ray showing visible rotation of the vertebrae. Unfortunately, this diagnosis provides no quantifiable evidence that the nerve is being impacted. The nerve may be impacted, but additional imaging such as an MRI or nerve conduction test would be necessary to see if the nerve is affected.
Overall, there is no dislocation of the spine that is causing potential nerve pressure issues, but there are many other treatable conditions that may be the culprit. We usually use the term “segmental dysfunction” which may cause symptoms such as localized pain, and pinching in the spine with a certain motion. Spinal manipulations may produce a localized pain relief effect and decrease any potential nerve compression in the area.
At South Pointe Chiropractic, we would diagnose these symptoms as a radiculopathy, which is often caused by degeneration of discs, osteoarthritis, disc bulges, or in more traumatic cases a vertebral fracture or an unknown mass near the spine may impact the nerve.
South Pointe Chiropractic Treatment Methodologies
Once the cause is identified, we use a combination of manipulations, massage therapy, dry needling, myofascial release, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, stretching, home exercise programs, and patient education to treat the root cause of pain symptoms.
If you see a chiropractor that pushes x-rays on the first visit to diagnose subluxation of the spine and is attempting to get you locked into a long-term treatment plan – it may be beneficial to get a second opinion on your symptoms. Chiropractic care should be pay as you go, and we make it clear to our patients from day 1 that we do not want to see them forever. The goal is to relieve pain symptoms and prevent them from occurring in the future in as little time as possible.
All our chiropractors at South Pointe Chiropractic use evidence based diversified techniques, which use an initial examination to diagnose any functional movement hinderances and cater treatment to the individual, never using preconceived notions of care.