Correcting Through Adjusting
What are adjustments: What truly differentiates doctors of chiropractic from any other
healthcare professionals is the fact that chiropractors are the only professionals who are
trained to diagnose and treat what are called spinal subluxations. The word “subluxation”
comes from the Latin words meaning “somewhat or slight" (sub) and “to dislocate”
(luxare). So the term ‘subluxation’ literally means a sub dislocation or
misalignment of two bones.
When a subluxation occurs, a chiropractor can correct the misaligned bone and allow it to return to its proper position. This procedure is appropriately called an adjustment, and the adjustment enables the body to correctly heal from what it perceived to be an injury. The chiropractic adjustment is a quick thrust applied to a bone at the joint for the purpose of correcting its position, movement or both. Adjustments are often accompanied by an audible release of gas that sounds like a “pop.” The sound sometimes shocks people at first, but the sensation is usually relieving.
Occasionally, minor discomfort is experienced especially if the surrounding muscles are in spasm or the patient tenses up during the chiropractic procedure. There are times when the audible “pop” does not occur. This is often due to either significant muscle tightness or that the patient may be having a hard time relaxing during the adjustment.
In the chiropractic world, keeping the problem fixed and preventing its reoccurrence is just as important as the initial remedy. Therefore it is common to receive several adjustments over a course of time in addition to myofascial work, specific nutrition, stretching or strengthening exercises. This is no different than what is expected with standard physical therapy except that in this office the care is much more comprehensive than with standard physical therapy.
There are actually five components that contribute to the subluxation complex.
- Bone Component-where the bone is either out of position, not moving properly, or are undergoing degeneration. This frequently leads to a narrowing of the spaces between the bones through or around which the nerves pass; often resulting in irritation or impingement of the nerve itself.
- Nervous Component-is the disruption of the normal flow of energy along the nerve fibers, causing the messages traveling along the nerves to become distorted. The result is that all of the tissues that are fed by those nerves receive distorted signals from the brain and, consequently, are not able to function normally. Over time, this can lead to a whole host of conditions such as, radiating type of pain, headaches, extremity pain or weakness, numbness or tingling, muscle spasms and inflammation. From an organ perspective chronic neural distortion may cause high blood pressure, gastritis, constipation or many other organ system dysfunctions.
- Muscular Component-By design the tendons of muscles cross over and attach on the opposite side of a joint. This creates a lever that allows movement to happen at a joint. Tendons are also part of the structures that help hold the bones in place. Because of this design muscles are considered an integral part of the subluxation complex. In fact muscles both affect and are effected by the subluxation. A subluxation can stretch or shorten a tendon and change the way that tendon/muscle functions. The most common response is for a muscle to inhibit or weaken. Sometimes the response can be that a muscle goes into spasm. Either way this is the beginning of imbalance. One area of the body weakens and another area of the body tightens creating a compensation effect.
- Soft Tissue Component-the subluxation also affects the cartilage and ligaments that surround each joint. This can cause pain which in turn can affect the nervous and muscular components. Thus a viscous cycle begins that can impair local blood supply and lymph drainage which can prolong the pain or muscle imbalance. With prolonged misalignment the soft tissues can become stretched out or scarred, leaving the spine or extremity with either a permanent instability or restriction.
- Chemical Component-is the change in the chemistry of the body due to the subluxation. Most often, the chemical changes, such as the release of a class of chemicals called “kinins,” are pro-inflammatory; meaning that they increase inflammation in the affected area.