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What Is A Vertebral Subluxation?

Posted By On 12 Mar 2015
Vertebral Subluxation

What is a Vertebral Subluxation?

People often say that they have:

  • “a pinched nerve”
  • “slipped disc”
  • “thrown out their back”
  • “I don’t feel right”
  • “bone out of place”
  • “crooked back”
  • “curved spine”
  • “back spasm”
  • “lumbago”
  • “sciatica”
  • “back pain”
  • “pain in the neck”
  • “kink in the neck”
  • “kink in the back”
  • “numbness in their arm”
  • “numbness in their hand”
  • “numbness in their foot”

Subluxation is those things…and more!

Definition of vertebral subluxation

“Subluxation is a neurological imbalance or distortion in the body associated with adverse physiological responses and/or structural changes, which may become persistent and progressive. The most frequent site for the chiropractic correction of subluxation is via the vertebral column.”

-This definition comes from the Council on Chiropractic Practice 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines.

Will I know if I have a vertebral subluxation?

Sometimes a subluxation can hurt, but most of the time they are not painful but will slow your body’s ability to function well.  Most of the time you will not know if you are subluxated.  When someone is under regular chiropractic care, they can become more in tune with their body and are better able to recognize when their spine becomes subluxated.

Chiropractors are specifically trained to identify and correct the vertebral subluxations that occur in your spine and nerve system in order to help you live well, naturally.

Who should be checked for vertebral subluxations?

Every person, both young and old, should have the opportunity to be checked for vertebral subluxation.

Children are constantly learning new things and frequently are in situations to subluxate their spines and nerve systems. Kids are also growing so quickly, so any barrier to a child growing and learning has a bigger impact on their future life and health.

Our chiropractic techniques can be used to adjust the infants all the way to centenarians.

Why do vertebral subluxations happen?

There are 24 movable vertebrae (bones) in the spine plus the skull and sacrum. These bones have to move perfectly with each other in order for us to stand up straight and move throughout the our sports, jobs, and life.

If one of the bones has some trouble with its job it can start impacting the movement (biomechanics) of the other joints in the back. This hinders function of the body mechanically, but can also interfere or irritate the nerves travelling through the spine and exiting between the spaces of the bones.

The impact that this has on a functioning body can be described as having a smart phone that is only functioning at 3 bars of connectivity to WIFI instead of the full connectivity of 5 bars. The phone is physically okay, but the information is not flowing quickly or efficiently from the internet to the smartphone.

Now imagine your body experiencing the same difficulty, what would happen to the functions of the body?

Is there research on vertebral subluxations?


Below are some excellent articles that help you better understand how a vertebral subluxation can impact your health and how removing a vertebral subluxation through a specific chiropractic adjustment can positively impact a body to function at a greater capacity.

A British Medical Journal study from 1995 found that chiropractic patients’ most dramatic improvements were associated not only with pain reduction BUT with quality of life factors such as sitting more comfortably, sleeping better, lifting, walking, standing, sex life, social life and ability to travel.  Meade, T. W. “Follow-up to Meade study.” British Medical Journal (1995).

A study of 2,818 patients under Network Spinal Analysis (chiropractic) care observed significant improvements in physical health and mental/emotional health. The chiropractic patients also reported feeling less stress in their lives and more life enjoyment. These benefits became evident as early as 1 to 3 months under chiropractic care, and showed continuing improvement as long as patients stayed under care with no indication of a maximum clinical benefit.

An Italian study of 17,142 chiropractic patients from 22 clinics found that the chiropractic patients had 55-75% less absences from work. The study concluded that: “A most meaningful indicator of the effectiveness of chiropractic is the improvement it produces in the quality of life, not only because of its curative effect but also thanks to its preventative and rehabilitative functions.”

A study of people 75 years and older revealed that those visiting chiropractors had better overall health and a higher quality of life. Chiropractic patients reported better overall health, fewer chronic conditions and fewer days spent in nursing homes and hospitals. They also reported being more mobile in their communities and were less likely to use prescription drugs than non-chiropractic patients. 87% of chiropractic patients described their health as excellent compared to only 67.8% of non-chiropractic patients.

Clinical utilization and cost outcomes from an integrative medicine independent physician association: an additional 3-year update.

Are There Best Clinical Practice Guidelines Regarding Subluxation Chiropractic Practice?

The best practices guidelines combining the most recent clinical research to be implemented into practice is organized by the Council on Chiropractic Practice.  They produce the Clinical Practice Guidelines which can be accessed from their website mentioned just above.  The Fourth Edition from 2013 is titled: “Subluxation Chiropractic Practice”

Below is the a great paragraph regarding the practical impacts of addressing the vertebral subluxation written by Dr. Dana Kent Metzger in her research paper the experience of a patient undergoing chiropractic care improving her health to the point that she overcame infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hypothyroidism, and ulcerative colitis.

“The profession of chiropractic is based upon the notion that mental impulses supply the information necessary for all the cells of our body to function, and that the interference of these mental impulses, known as a subluxation, leads cells distal to said lesion to dysfunctional action.  This term, “subluxation”, has been around for longer than the chiropractic profession itself. In the 1896 medical textbook, Henry Hollingsworth Smith described a subluxation as “An incomplete Luxation, or a Subluxation, in one in which the bone is displaced from the articulation surface still remaining in the natural cavity or upon its edge”.   In 1895 Daniel David Palmer adopted the term to describe the phenomenon that he experienced in his clinical “discovery”. DD Palmer proposed that the “subluxation of a vertebrae is a slight deviation from its normal relation to adjacent vertebrae”, and this is said to cause “an alteration and narrowing of intervertebral foramina”. This concept was later explained upon by Stephenson in his 1948 Chiropractic Textbook as “the condition of the vertebrae that has lost its proper juxtaposition with the one above, or the one below, or both; to the extent less than a luxation; and which impinges nerves and interferes with the transmission of mental impulses”. This chiropractic definition of subluxation is similar to the medical definition, however it goes further to imply that the misalignment causes neural interference. Therefore, to identify a subluxation, it is not sufficient to simply have a misplaced bone; there must be some sort of neurologic involvement.”
Dana Kent Metzger, DC, CACCP

What Exactly do Chiropractors do regarding a vertebral Subluxation?

Dr. Koren’s 2011 paper on “Does the Subluxation Exist?” highlights some interesting questions regarding chiropractic and subluxation.  A great take home point from this paper is that the best way to understand and research subluxation is to observe the effects it has on a person and the changes that occur when that person is adjusted. Here is a short excerpt from his paper:
What Exactly Do Chiropractors Do?
What exactly are chiropractors doing when they look for “subluxations” in patients? First the doctor performs an analysis using various tools and techniques: palpation of the spine and body structure, analysis of motion, posture, leg length, muscle strength, electromyelograpy, biofeedback, temperature differentials, muscle or blood flow asymmetries, symptomatic and/or other physiological changes and determines if a subluxation is present. However the chiropractor, using all these tools is not really viewing a subluxation. Instead he/she is observing what is believed to be some of its effects. After determining that there is a “subluxation” a chiropractic adjustment (a force) is introduced into the patient’s body to correct the “subluxation.” After the adjustment the patient is re-analyzed and if certain physiological changes are found we infer that a subluxation has been corrected or reduced. Does the Subluxation Exist? J. Philosophy, Principles & Practice of Chiropractic – February 24, 2011

The best way to understand how a vertebral subluxation can impact your health is to have a chiropractic spinal check up and live life without vertebral subluxations! Try Chiropractic Today!

This information and linked articles should be taken for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for health care advice. Enjoy these testimonials. However, a result for one patient may not be typical of all patients. Our aim is to help you have an excellent experience at our Mississauga office and to help you reach your health goals.

1 Comment

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  • Posted on 14-03-2015 by Sue

    Good article on subluxations. Thank you

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