One of the primary sources of back
pain is subluxation. A subluxation is the malposition of and/or
abnormal function of a motion segment (a joint and surrounding bone
and tissue) that can affect the nervous system, muscles, organs, and
other systems of the body. The following is what the Association of
Chiropractic Colleges has to say in it's Position Paper #1
concerning chiropractic and the treatment of subluxations.
is concerned with the preservation and
restoration of health, and focuses particular
attention on the subluxation.
subluxation is a complex of functional and/or
structural and/or pathological changes that
compromise neural integrity and may influence
organ system function and general health.
subluxation is evaluated, diagnosed, and managed
through the use of chiropractic procedures based
on the best available rational and empirical
Chiropractic is a health care discipline which
emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of
the body to heal itself without the use of drugs
practice of chiropractic focuses on the
relationship between structure (primarily the
spine) and function (as coordinated by the
nervous system and how that relationship affects
the preservation and restoration of health. In
addition, Doctors of Chiropractic recognize the
value and responsibility of working in
cooperation with other health care practitioners
when in the best interest of the patient."
subluxation can happen in any joint, so
chiropractic care also involves the extremities
(arms and legs). Chiropractic can help
with a variety of health problems that include
back pain, but are not limited to back pain.
Throughout the rest of this web site you can
learn about some of the other problems that
chiropractic care can help.
decay is a condition also known as
subluxation degeneration, spinal
degeneration, or degenerative disc
disease. It is a degenerative process
that occurs with your spine due to
several factors which are all
correctible. If the underlying cause is
left uncorrected, it will get worse over
time, often without obvious symptoms.
Many people mistakenly believe this is
just a natural part of aging. This
could not be further from the truth.
With proper spinal care, you can
significantly decrease your chances of
developing spinal decay.
often, the cause of spinal decay is an
uncorrected trauma to the spine. These
can be slips and falls, poor ergonomics,
auto accidents, the process of learning
to walk, etc, etc. Traditional
chiropractic philosophy will tell you
that it is caused by thoughts, traumas
spine is put under the stress of this
trauma, it loses its proper, natural
curve. It's range of motion, or ability
to properly bend and twist is reduced.
This forces other areas of the spine to
compensate, leading to improper motion
and positioning throughout the spine.
This is the beginning of the
spine is under this stress, or
subluxated as chiropractors call it,
health problems can develop in other
areas of the body. This is because of
the brain-body connection. Your brain
controls everything that happens in your
body via your nerves. They are
connected by the spinal cord. When
something happens to cause improper
motion or bad positions of the spinal
bones, nerve irritation may occur. This
is why, for example, people with
sciatica get numbness and pain in their
legs. The problem is not in the legs,
where the pain is, but in the spine,
where the nerves originate.
uncorrected, the body tries to
immobilize the poorly moving joints of
the spine and out of place bones to
prevent further injury. In the early
stages of this uncorrected problem, your
body begins depositing calcium in
ligaments, connective tissue, and the
affected joint surfaces (such as the
vertebral discs). On x-ray, you can
also often see a loss of the normal
curvature of the spine.
later stages, if left uncorrected, you
may see a reversal of the normal
curvature of the spine and development
of bone spurs on x-ray. In the latest
stages the spinal bones may fuse
together, allowing for no motion
whatsoever. If the problem remains
uncorrected to this stage, surgery and
palliative care may be the only options.
Disc injuries, like subluxations, can
be a source of back pain. The vertebral disc is made of cartilage.
It does not have very good vasculature (blood vessels) or
innervation (nerve supply). Because of this, disc injuries
take a long time to heal.
Picture a disc like a jelly doughnut
in between two bones (vertebra). The inside of the disc, the jelly,
is called the nucleus pulposis. The outside of the disc, like the
outside of a jelly doughnut, is tough and called the annulus
fibrosis. The outside of the disc is made of fiberous tissue. A
herniated disc is when the jelly (nucleus pulposis) squishes out of
the doughnut (annulus fibrosis). It is
then possible for the squeezed out jelly to
compress nerves and cause pain.
Chiropractic is helpful in relieving
pain due to disc injuries. There are many gentle techniques used to
decrease pain, and increase function of the injured area.
Chiropractic is a good place to start in the treatment of disc
injuries, because it is more conservative than surgery.
Sciatica is pain caused by impingement of or
interference with the sciatic nerve. There are many causes of this
impingement. Disc herniations, muscle tightness or imbalance,
chiropractic subluxation, and others, can cause sciatica. The pain
sciatica causes is usually sharp or tingling pain, in the back of
the thigh above the knee. There are, however, many different
descriptions of pain that people with sciatica have.
The sciatic nerve can be affected in many ways. Your
chiropractor will need to do a history and exam in order to tell
where the problem is coming from. The sciatic nerve originates from
spinal nerves in the low back (from the ventral rami of L4-S3 or the
forth lumbar nerve root through the third sacral nerve root) . From
the spinal cord it exits in between the vertebra (bones) of your low
back, as well as from your sacrum (below your low back and above
your tailbone). At this point there are many things that can cause
the sciatic nerve to be irritated. Injured discs and spinal
degeneration are two possible ways that the sciatic nerve can be
irritated as it exits the spinal cord (actually there is no cord at
those levels because the chord has branched off like a horses tail,
but talking about the spinal chord is less complicated). A less
serious and more simple cause of sciatic irritation at the spine is
subluxation (malposition of bones and dysfunction of the joints that
can affect the nervous system and surrounding soft tissue),
subluxations are what chiropractors adjust which often results in a
cracking sound (cavitation). There are other possibilities, but
above are three of the more common causes.
After the sciatic nerve exits the spine it runs
under the piriformis muscle (on the anterior aspect of the muscle).
In some people the sciatic nerve actually goes through the
piriformis muscle. This means that any tightness of the piriformis
muscle can irritate the nerve. Sometimes simple stretches and
exercises can take care of the problem. The piriformis muscle
attaches to the sacrum and the femur (thigh bone). So if there are
any subluxations of your low back, sacrum or illium (pelvis), hip,
knees, or ankles, the piriformis might react by splinting and
becoming tight which could irritate the nerve.
Note: there are things that can cause sciatica like
symptoms that are not due to the sciatic nerve.
Chiropractic treatment is extremely effective in treating
sciatica. The techniques and types of treatment used depends on the
cause of the problem. Typically treatment includes chiropractic
adjustments and stretches, sometimes various therapies and
nutritional supplements may be used.