Vertebral Subluxation Information

Author: Thomas C. Weiss
Published: 2012/09/04 - Updated: 2021/07/29
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Subluxation is when one or more of the bones in the human spine move out of position creating pressure on or irritating nerves in their spine. While a person's spinal column is sturdy, each of their individual vertebrae may become misplaced. When this occurs it is referred to as a, 'vertebral subluxation.' Participating in sports, picking up heavy objects, or even sitting for lengthy periods of time at a desk can all put stress on a person's vertebrae.

Main Digest

In very basic terms a subluxation is when one or more of the bones in a person's spine move out of position creating pressure on or irritating the nerves in their spine.

Instructions from a person's brain are sent to every part of their body as electrical impulses. The impulses move along their spinal cord, which separates into individual nerve fibers in their body. A person's spinal cord is protected by a, 'tunnel,' of small and interlocking bones referred to as their, 'spinal column.' The individual bones are called, 'vertebrae.' Nerves branch off from a person's spinal cord through small openings between their vertebrae. When each of a person's vertebrae is in its appropriate position, their nerve fiber passes through without any problems. Nerve pulses have the ability to flow freely and communicate with their brain at incredible speeds.

While a person's spinal column is sturdy, each of their individual vertebrae may become misplaced. When this occurs it is referred to as a, 'vertebral subluxation.' One of the most common causes of vertebral subluxation is a car accident, although a number of everyday activities can result in subluxations too. Participating in sports, picking up heavy objects, or even sitting for lengthy periods of time at a desk can all put stress on a person's vertebrae.

In very basic terms a subluxation is when one or more of the bones in a person's spine move out of position creating pressure on or irritating the nerves in their spine. Spinal nerves are the nerves that come out from between each of the bones in a person's spine. The irritation or pressure may cause the nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals that travel through the nerves.

A person's nervous system coordinates and controls every function of their body. If something interferes with the signals traveling through their nerves, parts of their body will not receive the appropriate nerve messages and will lack the ability to function to their complete ability. In plain language, some parts of the person's body will not be able to work properly.

The changes become progressively worse over time in the area of subluxation in the person's spine. The changes take the form of ongoing degeneration referred to as, 'subluxation degeneration.' When subluxations happen and remain untreated, ongoing changes occur, resulting in damage to the structure and function of the person's spine as well as nerve damage and resulting issues caused by improper nerve supply.

Vertebral Subluxation Complex

Vertebral subluxations involve a combination of changes that occur at the same time. The changes happen in a person's spine and throughout their body. Due to this, a chiropractor may refer to vertebral subluxations as, 'Vertebral Subluxation Complex.' In vertebral subluxation complex, a number of things are occurring inside a person's body at the same time. The changes are all a part of the complex. Chiropractors usually recognize five categories of components within vertebral subluxation complex:

Vertebral involvement:

A person's vertebrae are either not moving appropriately, out of position, or are going through physical changes such as degeneration - a component sometimes referred to as, 'kinesiopathology.'

The malfunctioning of a person's nerve:

Research has demonstrated that only a small amount of pressure on spinal nerves may have a significant impact on their ability to function - a component referred to as, 'neuropathology.'

Muscle involvement:

Muscles help to hold a person's vertebrae in place and since nerves control the muscles they are an integral part of any vertebral subluxation complex. Muscles affect and are affected by vertebral subluxation complex - a component referred to as, 'myopathology.'

Soft tissue component:

The soft tissue component occurs when a person has misaligned vertebrae and pressure on their nerves, which results in changes to their surrounding soft tissues. The person's ligaments, tendons, blood supply and other tissues may undergo changes that can happen at any point of the vertebral subluxation complex - a component referred to as, 'histopathology.'

Chemical component:

The chemical component occurs when all of the components of vertebral subluxation complex are affecting a person's body and causing chemical changes. The chemical changes may be slight or large depending upon the parts of the body that are affected by the subluxations - a component referred to as, 'biochemical abnormalities.'

Symptoms of Vertebral Subluxation Complex and the Stages of Degeneration

When a person's spinal bones are not placed appropriately, the openings between them may narrow. The person's vertebrae may impinge on the nerves branching out from these spaces, something that is commonly and inaccurately referred to as a, 'pinched nerve.' When this happens it interferes with the regular flow of energy along the person's nerve fibers. The messages that travel along the person's nerves become distorted. If the full and regular flow of energy is unable to pass to and from the person's brain, some portion of their body will be negatively affected.

The medical realm does not understand the human body well enough to predict exactly what effect a subluxation will have on a person. The nervous system is much too complex. What is known is that any changes in the flow of nerve energy results in a negative change in the way a person's body functions. At times, the fact that there is an interference with a nerve becomes obvious. People experience symptoms such as irregularities, pain, soreness, digestive disturbances, weakness, or other health issues.

The symptoms are ones reflecting the lack of ease in the person's body. The symptoms are not the problems of themselves. The symptoms are, 'alarms,' that a part of a person's body is not working as it should be. Ignoring the symptoms, or simply taking pills to silence them, does not do anything to help the real problem. Until the real issue, the interference with the nerve, is approached - the organ that is affected will continue to function improperly and the person's health will continue to decline.

Phase One Subluxation Degeneration:

Phase One Subluxation Degeneration is something found in people where it has been present for up to 20 years. The phase is characterized by a change or loss in the usual curve of the person's spine. A person in this phase will lose the usual forward curve in their spine and develop a reverse curve in their neck. The person's disc spaces have begun to show a change in shape, although they still have clean borders. The person's segmental motion might remain within usual range, and their overall motion is most likely not affected. Reconstructive care may take from between 6 and 18 months. More than 80% of people with Phase One Subluxation Degeneration experience no pain. If left untreated, people who experience this phase continue to progress over time to Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration.

Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration:

Phase two subluxation degeneration is commonly seen in people with subluxations that have been present for between 20 and 40 years. The phase includes some of the same characteristics as phase one such as a loss of usual curvature and position of a person's spine, as well as alteration of segmental motion. Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration also includes a reduction in the person's range of motion in the affected area. X-rays of a person in phase two reveal calcium changes, or buildup to certain levels of the person's spine. The changes are sometimes referred to as, 'spurs,' or arthritis. The spaces between the discs in the vertebrae that are affected are noticeably narrower and might appear to be flattening out. While most people with Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration may not present with any symptoms, some might begin to feel achy or stiff. Reconstructive care for people in phase two can range from 1.5 to 2.5 years. If left untreated, the condition will progress to the next phase of degeneration.

Phase Three Subluxation Degeneration:

Phase Three Subluxation Degeneration is caused by subluxations that have continued for 40 to 65 years. The phase has all of the attributes of prior phases only worse. The curvatures in a person's spine have become abnormal; the spaces between their discs are greatly decreased and changed. Calcium changes in their spine are abundant. People in this phase usually experience a restricted range of motion and most likely have symptoms of some kind. Their vertebrae reveal obvious changes in their shapes. Calcium projects referred to as, 'lipping,' or, 'spurs,' can easily be seen on X-ray images. Reconstructive care for people in this phase ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 years and does not mean that after reconstructive care the calcium changes will be gone. Many times, the person's body simply adapts to the presence of the calcium and positive changes are measured from a functional perspective. Again, if left untreated the degeneration will advance towards the next phase over time.

Phase Four Subluxation Degeneration:

People with Phase Four Subluxation Degeneration commonly experience this phase due to subluxations that have continued without treatment for more than 65 years. Phase four is a serious condition that will negatively affect a person's quality of life and longevity. An incredible amount of neurological damage, caused by years of subluxation, leads to phase four and takes a serious toll on the person's health. X-rays reveal serious structural changes to the person's spine. Their vertebrae exhibit massive calcium changes, the spaces between their discs appear blurred, and the bones themselves seem to be fused. People with Phase Four Subluxation Degeneration experience a severe restriction of range of motion, as well as a number of additional health issues. Reconstruction might not be possible at this point, although care may be directed to some level of reduction in subluxation and a goal of improving the quality of the person's life. People with phase four subluxation degeneration experience serious neurological and structural health issues, although with treatment many report significant improvements in their condition, the symptoms they experience, their quality of life, and their mobility.

Spinal Subluxation is a Silent Killer

Unfortunately, many of the organs and cells in a person's body do not send out alarms to inform us that they are not functioning appropriately. Due to vertebral subluxations, people do not receive a usual flow of energy through their nerves. The instructions from the body do not flow as they should through the nerves.

If a subluxation continues undetected, a person's organ might suffer extensive damage - yet the person may remain unaware of it. Due to this fact, subluxations and their ability to destroy a person's health without visible signs are often referred to as, 'silent killers.' Waiting until your body experiences pain or other types of clear signals may mean it is already too late. It is important to stop subluxations before they have the opportunity to do major damage and become more difficult to treat.

Each person is a different and dynamic individual. People degenerate and heal at different rates. The further along a person's spine might be with subluxation degeneration the more time consuming and strenuous the effort will be to improve and heal. Because of this it is important to pursue early treatment and either stop or prevent the advancement of subluxation degeneration.

Author Credentials:

Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida. Explore Thomas' complete biography for comprehensive insights into his background, expertise, and accomplishments.

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Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2012, September 4). Vertebral Subluxation Information. Disabled World. Retrieved February 26, 2024 from

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