Chiropractic Care for Vertebral Subluxation

Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

What is vertebral subluxation?

A vertebral subluxation is one or more vertebra that is out of its normal alignment and causing the abnormal function of the spine that dramatically interferes with normal brain-body communication.
Is spinal subluxation serious?
Spinal subluxation is extremely serious! It interferes with the function of the nervous system and brain-body communication, destroys human function and performance, and degenerates the spine dramatically faster than normal.

How do you fix subluxation of the spine?

Ideally, the subluxation is detected immediately after it is caused. According to a 2015 Osteopathic study, over 99% of infants are subluxated during birth. The first chiropractic analysis and adjustment should take place as soon as possible after birth. If it’s corrected soon after it takes place, it is usually corrected easily and quickly (unless caused by a severe trauma like a car crash). When a subluxation involves postural misalignments as well or has existed for months or even years, scar tissue forms around it and makes it much more difficult to correct. In this case exercises, adjustments, and traction are often required to permanently correct the subluxations. It can and usually does take months to correct in this case. This is why we recommend that kids grow up with regular chiropractic care. Proper analysis as they grow makes them so much healthier and makes it much less likely that they’ll grow up with the many, many health problems we see so commonly now! Much like growing fruit trees and training them to grow straight and healthy, caring for their spines while they still growing can make an enormous difference!

What is a subluxated spine?

A subluxated spine is a spine that is not in normal alignment. This can be one or more single bones out of alignment compared to the one above or below it or can mean postural distortions of the whole spine or a region of the spine. Our group of Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) has published a spinal model of normal that is very widely accepted academically as well as by chiropractors, orthopedists, and researchers alike as normal. There are literally hundreds of numbers, angles, etc that we measure to comprise this normal alignment, each of which is significant for developing a rehabilitation program to correct the specific subluxation in their body. However, simply put, normal from the side view is a correct curve in the neck, mid-back, and lower back, with the head straight above the shoulders, shoulders straight above the pelvis, and pelvis straight above the knees which are straight above the feet. When we find these out of normal, we correct them through exercise, adjustments, and often traction. From the front view, the spine should be perfectly straight, perfectly vertical, and all the parts stacked straight on top of one another. Of course, there are anatomical variations, such as a short leg (as only accurately measured by X-ray) that affect this analysis and correction.

What are the signs and symptoms of subluxation?

A tiny percent of subluxations produce pain, but 100% of them produce abnormal neurological and brain function and abnormal body function. The reason a tiny percent of them are painful is that most of the nervous system is geared not to pain or feeling but to healing and coordinating all body functions and running the very-complex muscular system. Only about 8% of the nerves of the body are pain-sensitive. This is much like a person can have heart disease for years and years before the very first symptom: a fatal heart attack. Or when a person has diabetes, their pancreas does not hurt. It’s just malfunctioning. The spine and nervous system it contains do a lot more than just cause pain! This is why it’s a very good idea to take care of the spine with regular chiropractic care before it hurts and after it hurts!

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Hey guys, I get an amazing amount of questions about sciatic pain. Doc, I got this pain down the back of my leg. Is that sky Attica?

I get that all the time. People call it sky attic, sci attic, but it is kind of spelled like sky attic. It’s spelled S-C-I-A-T-I-C. The sciatic nerve that leads from our lower back, can wreak major havoc. I don’t know if it’s much more prevalent because everyone is sitting more during the pandemic. I don’t know if people aren’t moving enough, but I do know the cause, and I do know the correction, well, over 99% of the time. The cause is vertebral subluxation. Let’s all say that together on three… One, two, three, vertebral subluxation. That means a vertebra or a group of vertebrae are out of alignment and choking off life from the low back into the nerves that go down the leg. The sciatic nerve leaves from the vertebra or the low back go down the back of the leg and wreak havoc when it’s having a problem. Something very, very important to know is that, like in the iceberg, the major problem… The major issue is not just above the surface. The major problem is below the surface. What I mean by that is over 90% of your nerves have nothing to do with feelings or that pain that you’re having, that sky attic pain if you want to call it that, but it is pronounced sciatic is causing other problems in your body, those same nerves that go down your leg, they also control all of your reproductive organs, your bowels, your bladder, all the functions of those parts down there.

So when people have sciatic pain, we very frequently see that it is correlated with the lower digestive tract problems, constipation, diarrhea, leaky bladder, when you cough or sneeze, erectile dysfunction, many hormonal malfunctions, any type of sexual dysfunction is very, very common when we have subluxations or misalignments, and I will say it is possible to have sciatic pain without any subluxation.

I’ve just never seen it in 25 years because what can happen is the muscles that surround the sciatic nerve, the piriformis muscle, even some of the gluteal muscles, especially in some people, surround the sciatic nerve, and those muscles can become very inflamed themselves, and they can interfere with that nerve and create a pinching pain down the leg. I just rarely see that also because most of the time, those muscles are inflamed because it’s misaligned as well. So we see pelvic misalignments and rotations, lateral flexions, and strains and sprains because the spine is out of alignment.

So let’s take a look at some x-rays so you can get an idea of what often causes sciatic pain. So these are an actual set of x-rays. We x-ray almost all of our patients, and the reason is we can get to the bottom of their problems, not just much quicker, but we can solve them much, much more thoroughly because five people can have the same exact pain and have dramatically different x-ray and posture presentations. This, we’ll call Tim. Tim here, the normal line is this green line. This is not something we made up one day to sell a product or to. I don’t know, do anything but help people. This is widely, widely published. Our group of doctors with chiropractic biophysics, the system we use, is the most proven way of correcting it.

The ones who published these green lines here are normal, and so we want to get as close to that as normal, so we can see here, the red lines is where Tim’s alignment is. You can see he’s very, very far from normal, his spine has shifted right there. Interestingly, he came to me, and he said, the problem’s in my L4 doc. I’ve been going to chiropractors for years and years and years. The problem’s in my L4. Yes, Tim, one of the problems is in the L4, which does happen to be one of the very misaligned vertebrae in his lower back, but if we made L4 perfect, a question for you in the audience, would that make the rest of this be in alignment? I’ll give you a hint. Nope, not even close because he’s really far off here, so we have to get all of this much closer to normal. Now, when it’s been this long, you can probably tell he’s an older gentleman. It’s been there. This has been built for 40 or 50 years. Even though he’s been going to chiropractors fairly regularly for that long, they just didn’t correct the posture. So what has to happen is complete restoration as much as possible toward that. Ideally, we would have caught this long ago because this problem just isn’t L4 or C6, because he also has numbness down his arms and for the same reason.

So how are we going to correct this? If we look at it, we need to take it piece by piece here, and this is his neck x-ray, so if we look, this is the side view of his neck here, the green line is normal, the bottom of his neck curves backward. Now, this is usually from an injury almost always, if we catch this early enough, this is actually a body’s normal adaptation to the head shifting forward, the bottom part curls forward, the bottom part of the neck, and the top part curls back, that’s normal. What we call a compensation pattern or coupling pattern to that, so we can sometimes, in the beginning, do exercises and just have them shift his head backward, that’s very, very effective in the early stages, but once we get all this level of deterioration and degeneration down here, that is not moving without traction, so we need traction for his neck to get his head and neck back shifted over here. He also needs to do home exercises and strengthening exercises, which are super, super important to correct that.

Now, we look at his middle back, it’s a similar problem, so the top of his middle back is 144 millimeters from the normal line, so he shifted way forward, so we have to do strengthening exercises and traction to get them all the way back there, but we look at his lower back from the side view here, and the normal is the screen line, here again, a 40-degree curve is normal, his curve is 18 degrees, and we know it’s been there a long time, because we look at the discs there, they’ve degenerated. Discs don’t ever degenerate unless there are abnormal forces on them, grinding them down when there’s a normal alignment, like these three green curves here.

So if someone’s closer to this green line here, the way it’s designed is three opposing springs, so that one spring in the neck, one spring in the mid-back, and one spring in the lower back, they’re supposed to compress and elongate, compress and elongate. That’s how the body is designed to take the stress. The only reason we get these discs degenerating, causing near often permanent sciatic pain, is because the spring is lost, and the discs are taking all the compression in the load. They’re not supposed to take that load. They’re supposed to coil and relax. If you are going to walk down 30 flights of stairs and you had a body cast from your chest all the way down to your toes, and you could not move at all, and you had to go down the stairs like this, 30 flights by the bottom of those stairs, you’re going to be in a lot of pain because your knees and your ankles and your hips can’t flex and move. It’s the same thing with your spine.

So don’t wait until you have sciatic pain to take care of this. So back to his lower back, he needs specific traction here, where this bone right here, it’s supposed to curb 90 degrees forward, it’s only 1.4 degrees, so we’re going to have to do specific traction that’s going to pivot, increase his pelvic tilt, and by the way, x-rays are so important to determine proper pelvic tilt.

Well, it varies a little bit from person to person. Based on a measurement we take, an anatomical measurement, 75% of people should be a 40-degree pelvic tilt. Eyeballing, it doesn’t. We can’t tell accurately. Someone can look very different from someone else but have the same pelvic tilt, or they can look identical, but have a very different pelvic tilt, so we have to… We’re going to have to traction, increase his pelvic, increase this curve right here, while at the same time working to extend his thoracic spine to get it more near there and decompress his neck and shift his head back, that used to be three or four different tractions, now, we do them all at the same time, saving people immense piles of time and money, so we need to decompress all that. Now, what does that have to do with sciatic pain because all those subluxations put stress on the nervous system? Is it like having a faucet at the top here? The faucet is turned way down, and then we have a hose clamp here. Then we have another hose clamp right here at the bottom of his thoracic spine, and then another hose clamp here and clamping down that strength, that energy, that life flowing from the brain down through the body, and then we think, oh, it’s just I don’t have enough fertilizer on my plants, but they’re not actually getting water.

That’s what it’s like to medicate this. Now, sometimes people need medication when they’re in severe pain, but if every time you’re in pain, all you do is medicate it, you’re just masking that symptom, that’s like if I’m driving around in my car and I talk to my 16-year-old son, Jacob, I say, Jacob, my oil light came on, hand me the duct tape, will you? Tear off a piece of duct tape and slap it on there. It doesn’t work too hard. That doesn’t fix the problem. We have not just to medicate this but correct the mechanics of it. So sciatic pain is almost always from a misalignment in the vertebrae. Yes, it is often from L2, 3, 4, or 5, usually L4-5, but we have to look at the body as a whole and address it as strengthening as the right adjustments as, the right tracks, and the right home exercises. If we catch it really early, some people just need a couple of adjustments, and they’re done.

I had a patient who I just saw this morning, I think he was coming in from a run, and I hadn’t seen him for almost a year now. About three months ago, he came to me about a year ago, and I just saw him this morning. He’s a neighbor of mine, and he said, you only did three months of care, but he crushed it. He does rehab incredibly. He got amazing results. And he said, I still feel perfect. I’m lifting things still that I could. I never dreamed I’d ever lift again. Well, I wish he’d come in for a tune-up every once in a while, but still, once we get this structure more normal, it’s amazing what it does for your overall health and your likelihood of not having sciatica today but the next five, 10, 15, 20 years. So I hope that helps you understand what sciatica is. Go be blessed and take great care of your body.

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