If you’ve spent any time around a chiropractor or chiropractic office, you have probably heard of subluxations. In fact, the correction of subluxations is part of the core of chiropractic medicine. But what are subluxations and why are they bad? How does a chiropractor correct them? Read below to learn more about this problem that affects practically everyone.

The term “subluxation” has different meanings in various medical specialties. In chiropractic medicine, it refers to a malalignment or poor positioning of a joint. The majority of the time, this malalignment is within the spine. While subluxations can occur anywhere in the human body, vertebral subluxations are of particular concern.

Why are Subluxations Bad?

The vast majority of the nerves responsible for movement and sensation travel to and from the brain via the spinal column. When the spine isn’t aligned correctly, this can cause a multitude of problems. Even tiny dislocations or malalignments of the vertebrae can lead to pinching, irritation, or entrapment of the nerves. This results in pain, numbness, burning, tingling, and restricted movement.

How do Subluxations Occur?

Sometimes the origins of a subluxation are obvious. Falling off a ladder or a motor vehicle collision are good examples. However, the majority of vertebral subluxations are simply the result of daily life. Poor posture, lifting heavy objects, and improper exercise are all potential causes for a subluxation. This is why it is important to receive regular adjustments from your chiropractor, and not only when you’ve suffered an injury.

How do Chiropractor Detect Subluxations?

There are several methods that chiropractors use to discover the presence of subluxations. The first is diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays. A large enough subluxation will often show up on an x-ray, allowing the chiropractor to pinpoint its location.

However, sometimes the subluxation is too small to clearly appear on x-ray imaging. In these cases, a chiropractor can often find them through a history and physical exam. The patient describes their symptoms and activities and the chiropractor, in turn, can determine where in the spine the problem lies.

From training and experience, chiropractors are also often able to locate subluxations from palpating, or feeling, the patient’s spinal area. Once the subluxation(s) is located, treatment can begin.

How are Subluxations Corrected?

The main method of correcting subluxations in chiropractic medicine is through spinal adjustments. This is when the chiropractor “cracks” your spine. What she or he is actually doing is applying precise force to gently shift your vertebrae back into their proper alignment. The process is almost entirely painless. The result is that irritated or pinched nerves are released, leading to the restoration of normal sensation, improved function, and a decrease in pain. Sometimes results are almost instantaneous. In other cases multiple treatments are needed.

Chiropractors also have a variety of other tools at their disposal, such as traction, exercises, icing, heat, ultrasound, and soft tissue release. Whatever method is employed, the goal is the same – to get you back to a pain-free and healthy lifestyle.