The nervous system is the controlling center of the body. The brain and spinal cord are so important that they are the only organs protected by being totally encased in bone (the skull and vertebral column). Billions of nerve fibers supply every cell, tissue, organ and system of the body. Messages or impulses are relayed through these fibers from the brain to the body and from the body to the brain. With a few exceptions, nerves travel from the brain down the spinal cord. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves emerge from the spinal cord and exit through holes located between the spinal bones. Each spinal nerve has millions of nerve fibers tightly bundled together, which branch off to supply the systems of the body. The body regulates its functions through these nerves.
A Break in Communication
The nervous system can be negatively affected if proper spinal alignment is altered even slightly between one spinal bone (or vertebra) and another. The area where the spinal nerves exit the spine (the intervertebral foramen) can become narrowed causing pressure, irritation, or stretching of the nerve. Research has shown that very slight pressure can alter the function of a nerve.
In addition, when a vertebra loses its normal position it also loses its ability to move properly. An improperly moving vertebra (or fixed vertebra) has been shown to alter spinal reflexes. Spinal reflexes are a means for the body to relay messages from the body to the spinal cord and vice versa. A fixed vertebra causes these nerve impulses to become scrambled. When a spinal bone loses its proper position and motion this is called a subluxation.
Vertebral Subluxation Complex
A properly functioning nervous system allows the entire body to function at its optimum level. Interference to the nervous system interferes with the function of the body. For example, irritating the nerves going to the stomach or intestines will affect the transmission of nerve impulses from the brain to these organs. This situation may cause a person to suffer from ulcers, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, or other gastro-intestinal conditions. Many individuals do not realize that the underlying cause of their disease condition may actually be a subluxation. A subluxation and the widespread affects it has on the body are collectively called the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. The Vertebral Subluxation Complex is identified by:
- A loss of normal position and movement of a spinal vertebra
- Irritation to delicate nerve tissue
- Muscles that are either tight and spasmed, or weak and atrophied, resulting from structural imbalance and nerve irritation
- Localized inflammation and heat
- Degeneration occurring over time causing other organs and systems of the body to lose their proper function.
Causes of Subluxation
There are many factors that can cause the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. Trauma from car accidents, improper lifting, falls, jolts, or strains are common causes. Sustained postures (sitting all day), repeated motions common to the workplace, inadequate sleep, improper exercise, poor diet, drug side effects and emotional stress are all factors that can gradually wear down parts of the spine and lead to subluxation. Subluxations can occur as early as childbirth. The infant’s spine (particularly the neck) undergoes an incredible amount of stress during the birthing process. Many neurological and health problems have been traced to spinal trauma at birth.
A doctor of chiropractic is the only health care provider trained and experienced at detecting, reducing, correcting and preventing the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. Your chiropractor conducts a thorough evaluation of your spine and addresses those specific areas of subluxation. Subluxations interfere with the health of your body. The longer a subluxation has to degenerate, the worse it affects your body’s functions and the more difficult it is to correct. For these reasons, it is important to have periodic spinal checkups.
“Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” — Hippocrates “The Father of Medicine”