What is  Subluxation

Our bodies want to be healthy. They naturally strive to maintain the highest level of health they can. Sometimes, however, obstacles are put in their way. The result is dis-ease. The role of chiropractic is to correct one of the major sources of those obstacles: the vertebral subluxation.


Instructions from our brain are sent to all parts of the body as electrical impulses. These impulses travel along the spinal cord, which subdivides into individual nerve fibers throughout the body.

The spinal cord is protected by a “tunnel” of small, interlocking bones called the spinal column. The individual bones are called vertebrae. Nerves branch off from the spinal cord through small openings between the vertebrae. When each vertebra is in its proper position, the nerve fiber passes through without a problem. Nerve impulses can flow freely, racing to and from the brain at incredible speeds.

Although the spinal column is a sturdy structure, individual vertebrae can become misplaced. When that happens, it’s called a vertebral subluxation. One of the most common causes of vertebral subluxation is automobile accidents. Yet, many everyday activities can result in subluxations as well. Picking up heavy objects, taking part in sports, and even sitting for prolonged periods at a desk can all put stress on the vertebrae.


When spinal bones are not in their proper place, the openings between them can narrow. The vertebrae can impinge on the nerves branching out from these spaces. This is commonly, though inaccurately, known as a “pinched nerve.”

This interferes with the normal flow of energy along the nerve fibers. Messages traveling along the nerves will be distorted. If the full, normal energy flow cannot pass to and from the brain, some part of the body will be adversely affected.

We do not understand the human body well enough to predict exactly what effect a subluxation will have. The nervous system is far too complex for that. But we do know that any change in the flow of nerve energy has to result in an abnormal change in body function.

Sometimes, the fact that there is nerve interference becomes obvious. We experience pain, soreness, irregularity, weakness, digestive disturbances or other health imbalances.

These are symptoms of the body’s dis-ease. They are NOT problems in themselves. They are outward alarms that a part of the human system isn’t working right.

Ignoring these symptoms, or silencing them with pills, doesn’t do anything to help the real problem. Unless we get to the root of the problem — the nerve interference — the affected organ will continue to function improperly and its health will decline.

The Silent Killer

Unfortunately, there are many cells and organs in the body that do not send out any alarms to alert us that they are not functioning at 100% capacity. Because of vertebral subluxations, they will not be receiving a normal flow of energy. The instructions from the body’s Innate Intelligence will not be getting through properly.

If a subluxation continues undetected, the organ may suffer great damage, yet we won’t even be aware of it! Because subluxations can destroy a person’s health without any visible signs, they are often called “the silent killer.”

If you wait until your body sends out pain or other clear signals, it may too late. You need to stop subluxations before they have a chance to do major damage and before they become difficult to correct.

You — and your entire family — need to visit a chiropractor regularly to make sure you can all lead a healthy, subluxation-free life.

 There are 3 main causes of SUBLUXATIONS

1) Physical Traumas
2) Emotional Stresses
3) Chemical Toxicities 

Physical causes could include the birth process, car accidents, falls, sports injuries, repetitive motions and improper lifting. Emotional causes of subluxations are grouped under stressful conditions such as loss of loved ones, loss of job, divorce, feeling overwhelmed, etc. Chemical causes could include alcohol, drugs, pollution, and poor diet. These traumas can cause significant tension in all of the muscles of the body, as well as spinal vertebral misalignments, or subluxations. 

What is a Subluxation and what does it do to me?

First, the simple explanation.

In simplest terms, a subluxation (a.k.a. Vertebral Subluxation) is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate spinal nerves. Spinal nerves are the nerves that come out from between each of the bones in your spine. This pressure or irritation on the nerves then causes those nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling over those nerves.

How does this affect you?  Your nervous system controls and coordinates all the functions of your body. If you interfere with the signals traveling over nerves, parts of your body will not get the proper nerve messages and will not be able to function at 100% of their innate abilities. In other words, some part of your body will not be working properly.

It is the responsibility of the Doctor of Chiropractic to locate subluxations, and reduce or correct them. This is done through a series of chiropractic adjustments specifically designed to correct the vertebral subluxations in your spine. Chiropractors are the only professionals who undergo years of training to be the experts at correcting subluxations.

Now, the detailed explanation.

Subluxations are really a combination of changes going on at the same time. These changes occur both in your spine and throughout your body. For this reason chiropractors often refer to vertebral subluxations as the “Vertebral Subluxation Complex”, or “VSC” for short.

In the VSC, various things are happening inside your body simultaneously. These various changes, known as “components,” are all part of the vertebral subluxation complex. Chiropractors commonly recognize five categories of components present in the VSC. These five are:

The osseous (bone) component is where the vertebrae are either out of position, not moving properly, stuck or are undergoing physical changes such as degeneration. This can be cause by physical  trauma (repetitive motion, car accidents, slips, falls) emotional stress (worry, negative thoughts, fear) or chemical imbalances (alcohol, drugs, toxins, pollution).  This component is known as Kinesiopathology.  Kinesiopathlolgy can set in motion the other four components of the VSC.

The Nerve Component is the malfunctioning of the nerve. Research has shown that only a small amount of pressure on spinal nerves can have a profound impact on the function of the nerves. Because of way the spine is designed, abnormal spinal function can rub, pinch, irritate, or chock the delecate tissues of the spinal cord and nerve roots. While commonly associated with spinal problem, the pinched nerve, call compressive lesion  is rear.  Researchers suggest that only 10% to 15%of spinal related problems are caused by direct pressure of bone to nerve tissue! But any nervous system impairment can affect the cells, tissues, organs and systems of the body, increasing susceptibility to disease and ill health.   This component is scientifically known as Neuropathology. This component can also result in numbness, burning or a “pin and neddle” feeling.

The Muscle Component is also involved. Since the muscles help hold the vertebrae in place, and since nerves control the muscles themselves, muscles are an integral part of any VSC. In fact, muscles both affect, and are affected by the VSC. When the nerve inpulses are deminished, muscle supporting the spine can weaken, waste away or atrophy.  When muscle are overstimulated  from nerve irritation, supporting  muscles can become tight and go in spasm.  In either extreme, fibrotic scar tissue can form in these muscles, changing their elasticity.  So, the overdeveloped or spasmic muscle on one side of the spine may cause individual spinal bone to rotate and lose proper function.  This component is known as Myopathology.

The Soft Tissue Component is when you have misaligned vertebrae, the spinal joint malfunction, and other connecticve tissues are affectes too and pressure on nerves resulting in changes in the surrounding soft tissues. This means the tendons, ligaments, blood supply, lymph vessel and other tissues undergo changes. These changes can occur at the point of the VSC or far away at some end point of the affected nerves. This component is also known as Histopathology.

The Chemical Component is when all these components of the VSC are acting on your body, and therefore causing some degree of chemical changes. Where there is malfunction or trauma to a joint, one of the ways the body responds is to stablilize the area by growing new bones. Over time, calcium deposits can build up, eventually recognizable as bone spurs and other abnormal bony growths.   This arthritic “splinting” of adjacent bones is nature’s attemp to stabilize the malfunctioning joint.  If ignored or negleted long enough, the body can turn a

 Phase Three Spinal Decay.

once mobile joint into a solid block of calcium. These chemical changes can be slight or massive depending on what parts of your body are affected by your subluxations.  Throughout the body, degenerative  changes can be seen in other organs and systems. Many health conditions not normally considered related to “back problems,”  can often be tracted back to nervous system inpairment associated with the spine. While often seen in the aged, this degenerative condition is not part of the normal aging process.  This type of spinal decay is the result of spinal problems which have been ignored of neglected for many years. This component of biochemical abnormalities is known as Pathophysiology.                                                                                       

Chiropractors have known about the dangers of subluxations for over one hundred years. Today, more scientific evidence is showing the dangers of subluxations and the health benefits of correcting them. To be truly healthy, it is vital that your nervous system be functioning free of interference from subluxations. Our goal is to allow your body to return itself to the highest level of health possible by correcting VSC.  Chiropractors are the ONLY health professionals trained in the detection, location, and correction of the VSC.

Where are you Subluxated?? Click below to find out

As early as 1921, the medical profession validated chiropractic

The Winsor Autopsies

Henry Winsor, a medical doctor in Haverford, Pennsylvania, asked the question:

“Chiropractors claim that by adjusting one vertebra, they can relieve stomach troubles and ulcers; by adjusting another, menstrual cramps; and by adjusting others conditions such as kidney diseases, constipation, heart disease, thyroid conditions, and lung disease may resolve–but how?”

Dr. Winsor decided to investigate this new science and art of healing–chiropractic.


After graduating from medical school, Dr. Winsor was inspired by chiropractic and osteopathic literature to experiment. He planned to dissect human and animal cadavers to see if there was a relationship between any diseased internal organ discovered on autopsy and the vertebrae associated with the nerves that went to the organ. As he wrote:

“The object of these necropsies (dissections) was to determine whether any connection existed between minor curvatures of the spine, on the one hand, and diseased organs on the other; or whether the two were entirely independent of each other.”

University Permission

The University of Pennsylvania gave Dr. Winsor permission to carry out his experiments. In a series of three studies he dissected a total of 75 human and 22 cat cadavers. The following are Dr. Winsor’s results:

“Two hundred twenty-one structures other than the spine were found diseased. Of these, 212 were observed to belong to the same sympathetic (nerve) segments as the vertebrae in curvature. Nine diseased organs belonged to different sympathetic segments from the vertebrae out of line.

These figures cannot be expected to exactly coincide … for an organ may receive sympathetic filaments from several spinal segments and several organs may be supplied with sympathetic (nerve) filaments from the same spinal segments. In other words, there was nearly a 100 percent correlation between minor curvatures of the spine and diseases of the internal organs.”

Diseases examined:

  • Stomach Diseases
    All nine cases of spinal misalignment in the mid-thoracic area (T5-T9) had stomach disease.

  • Lung Disease
    All 26 cases of lung disease had spinal misalignments in the upper thoracic spine.

  • Liver Disease
    All 13 cases of liver disease had misalignments in the mid thoracic (T5-T9)

  • Gallstones 
    All five cases with gallstone disease had spinal misalignments in the mid thoracic.

  • Pancreas 
    All three cases with pancreas disease had spinal misalignments in the mid thoracics.

  • Spleen 
    All 11 cases with spleen diseases had spinal misalignments in the mid thoracics.

  • Kidney 
    All 17 cases with kidney disease were out of alignment in the lower thoracics.

  • Prostate and Bladder Disease 
    All eight cases with kidney, prostate and bladder disease had the lumbar (L2-L3) vertebrae misaligned

  • Uterus 
    The two cases with the uterine conditions had the second lumbar misaligned.

  • Heart Disease 
    All 20 cases with heart and pericardium conditions had the upper five thoracic vertebrae (T1-T5) misaligned.

Dr. Winsor’s results are published in The Medical Times, November 1921, and are found in any medical library

• Reference: 
All quotes from: Winsor, H. Sympathetic segmental disturbances – II. The evidences of the association, in dissected cadavers, of visceral disease with vertebral deformities of the same sympathetic segments, The Medical Times , November 1921, pp./ 267-271.

Further References

Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research 

 Conference Proceedings on The Research Status of Spinal Manipulative Therapy. National Institutes of Health.

 Rydevik, B.L.: The Effects of Compression on the Physiology of Nerve Roots. JMPT Vol. 15 No. 1 January 1992.

Neurodynamics of the Vertebral Subluxation by E.A. Homewood

The Chiropractic Theories by Robert Leach. Published by Williams and Wilkins.

Foundations of Chiropractic: Subluxation by Meridel Gatterman. Published by Mosby.

 Atlas of Common Subluxations of the Human Spine and Pelvis by William Ruch.  
Published by CRC Press. Boca Raton Florida. 

Harrison D.E., Calliet R., Harrison, D.D., Troyanovich, S.J., Harrison, S.O., Review of the Biomechanics of the Central Nervous System. Parts I, II, and III. JMPT Vol 22. No’s. 4, 5 and 6.

 Clincial Practice Guideline Number One: Vertebral Subluxation in Chiropractic Practice. The Council on Chiropractic Practice. Chandler, Arizona. 

William R. Boone, W.R., Dobson, G. A Proposed Vertebral Subluxation Model Reflecting Traditional Concepts and Recent Advances in Health and Science: Parts I, II and III. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research Vol. 1 No’s. 1, 2 and 3.