What truly differentiates doctors of chiropractic from any other healthcare professional is the fact that chiropractors are the only professionals who are trained to diagnose and treat what are called spinal subluxations. The word 'subluxation' comes from the Latin words meaning 'to dislocate' (luxare) and 'somewhat or slightly' (sub). So the term 'vertebral subluxation' means a slight dislocation (misalignment) of the bones in the spine. Although this term was adequate in the 1800s when much was still misunderstood about the human body, today the word 'subluxation' has changed in meaning to capture the complex of neurological, structural, and functional changes that occur when a bone is 'out of place' or fixated with a lack of proper motion. For this reason chiropractors usually refer to subluxations of the spine as the "Vertebral Subluxation Complex", or "VSC" for short.
Although it may be possible to know that you have a subluxation, it is impossible to be sure that you don’t have one. Subluxations do not necessarily cause pain. A subluxation is like a dental cavity—it may cause immediate pain, or you may have it for a long time before symptoms appear. In some cases subluxations never create pain, but nevertheless are causing nerve interference and affecting one’s health and ability to function optimally. Regular spinal checkups are important because they can help find and correct these spinal problems before they become more serious.
Symptoms such as headaches, back pain, neck stiffness, pain in your shoulders, arms or legs, numbness in your hands or feet, fatigue, or nervousness are the most common signs of subluxations. But like a tooth cavity, most people will have a subluxation long before they notice any symptoms. This is why we recommend checkups even when you do not hurt or have symptoms.
Your body functions optimally when all of the joints move properly through their natural range of motion and are aligned with Normal Structure. When the vertebrae move improperly or are fixated, a number of problems may occur, such as arthritis, pain, disturbances in the function of organs, compromised immune system, etc.
Subluxations also lead to osteoarthritis. When joints become fixated, fibrous scar tissue builds up in and around the joint. This perpetuates the improper movement of the joint, and causes pressure to build up on the bones which actually stimulates the bone cells to create more calcium deposits (lipping and spurring, bone spurs). This can be seen on x-ray and is the hallmark of arthritis, also known as joint degeneration, or DJD (degenerative joint disease). The imbalances of the subluxated joint becomes a vicious cycle. Chiropractic can stop or slow down this process. This is why regularly scheduled adjustments, Normal Structure assessment, soft tissue work, and eventually wellness care are so vital to your health.