The Vertebral Subluxation Complex

Instead of treating your symptoms, your Doctor of Chiropractic is primarily interested in detecting, correcting, and preventing the cause of your symptoms, the Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC). 

This VSC, or simply, a Subluxation, describes what happens when spinal bones lose their normal motion and position, which in turn can exert pressure on the nervous system, causing nerve interference.

Subluxations can cause nerve pressure equivalent to the weight of a quarter on your hand and can reduce the nerve impulses by 60%.

Subluxations can arise from stress: physical, chemical or emotional. 

Physical stress is the most common type of stress.  Examples are motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, slip and fall injuries, chronic poor posture, repetative movements, and even the process of birth. (Birth produces vertebral subluxation, especially when the delivery involves forceps, vacuum extraction and even assistance by hand.  Up to 70 pounds of pressure are exerted on the newborn's head and neck, causing serious subluxations to develop.)

Chemical stress affects the nervous system. Examples are chemical pollutants in our environment, drugs (prescribed or non-prescribed), caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and a poor diet. These substances can act to irritate and hinder the optimal function of the nervous system, as well as many other systems of the body, causing negative chemical imbalances. 

Emotional stress can put a great demand on the spinal joints, muscles and the nervous system. Emotional stress seen when we are caught in a long lineup, traffic jams, have family and marital problems,  builds up the tension in our muscles and joints, and if ignored and uncorrected for a long time, will eventually lead to headaches, spinal pain, high blood pressure and anxiety attacks, just to name a few. Tension is increased primarily in the upper back, shoulders and neck muscles and will produce subluxation.  Emotions also play an important role in healing because negative thoughts can reflect in impaired healing.

Whether it is physical, chemical or emotional stress which is placed on the nervous system, the outcome is negative. Vertebral subluxations will develop, causing further nerve interference. Whenever the nervous system is interfered with, the connection between the brain and body is impaired, and there may be malfunction of any cell, tissue or organ of the body.
Your nervous system (protected by the skull and spinal column) is important because it controls the function of virtually every cell, tissue, organ, and system of your body. Any interference to this system may cause body systems to malfunction.

Studies show that only 10% of our nervous system perceives pain.
The other 90% is for health!

A thorough examination by a Doctor of Chiropractic will reveal the areas of your spine and nervous system that are not functioning normally. 

 This serious condition is identified by its five parts:

Spinal Kinesiopathology:

This is a fancy way of saying the bones of the spine have lost their normal motion and position. It restricts your ability to turn and bend. It sets in motion the other four components.

Abnormal spinal movement can be caused by physical trauma (repetive motion, car accidents, slips, falls, improper lifting, poor sleeping habits), emotional stress (worry, negative thoughts, fear), or chemical imbalances (alcohol, drugs, toxins, pollutions.)

When spinal joints are fixated ('stuck'), other joints must compensate and move too much.  This results in distorted normal spinal curves and compromises proper function, causes problems in other areas of the spine.

Doctors of Chiropractic can detect this aspect of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex by analyzing your posture, taking diagnostic X-rays, measuring your ability to turn and bend, plus other tests.

The primarily effect of the spinal adjustment is to restore proper spinal motion and position.


Because of the way your spine is designed, abnormal spinal function can cause abnormal nervous system function by rubbing, pinching, or irritating the delicate tissues of the spinal cord and nerve roots.  While commonly associated with spinal problems, an actual pinched nerve is quite rare.  It is estimated that only 10-15% of spinal-related problems are caused by direct pressure of bone on nerve tissue.

Nervous tissue irritation can result in numbness, burning, or a 'pins and needles' feeling.  This nervous system impairment can affect the tissues, organs, and other systems of the body, increasing the susceptibility of disease and ill health.

Doctors of Chiropractic can detect this aspect of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex by performing a computerized thermal scan. Areas of nerve stress and/or interference will show up as abnormal thermal patterns.

    When the communication lines from the brain to the rest of the body
    are not functioning properly, you can suffer from hypertension, indigestion, pain, and numbness.


When spinal joints stop moving properly, this can cause abnormal muscle function. The muscles have to work much harder to control your spine's movements.  As a result some muscles will atrophy (waste away) while others are forced to work harder and go into spasms.

In chronic or long standing cases scar tissue can form in these muscles, changing their ability to work.  This damage to the supporting muscles of the spine is why repeated adjustments are often necessary and adjustments don't seem to 'hold.' It also explains why long-standing spinal problems are so difficult and time-consuming to correct. Without proper rehabilitation, many patients experience a relapse of their original health complaint. Massage Therapy compliments your chiropracic adjustments very well.

The spinal muscles are the guide wires that support the spine.  If they can't
work properly, the result will be chronic pain, muscle fatigue and swelling.


When there is spinal joint malfunction, abnormal soft tissue function can develop. The discs, ligaments, and other connective tissue become affected.

While technically you can't have a 'slipped' disc, the soft pulpy discs that separate each spinal vertebrae can tear, bulge, herniate, and degenerate. Ligaments and other connective tissues in the area of the malfunctioning spinal joint are often involved. Inflammation and swelling accompany the accumulation of blood and lymph, causing a rise in temperature.

Unlike most other tissues of the body, discs and ligaments have a poor blood supply. This makes the healing of soft tissues a very slow and time-consuming process.

In fact, complete healing often requires continued care even after the relief of obvious symptoms.

Ligaments, tendons and spinal discs have a poor blood supply and heal slowly.
This is why proper nutrition, rest and repeated spinal adjustments are needed to completely
eliminate the cause of your pain.


Long lasting subluxation can develop abnormal function of the spine and body. When there is malfunction or trauma to a joint, one of the ways the body responds is to stabilize the area by growing new bone.

Over time, boney deposits can build up, eventually recognizable as bone spurs growing from your spine.  This arthritic 'splinting' of adjacent bones is nature's attempt to stabilize the malfunctioning joint. If ignored or neglected long enough, the body can turn a once mobile joint into one solid bone.

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 traced back to the nervous system impairment by 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 or neglected for many years.

If your spinal joints are not moving properly,
degeneration of your spine and health will be the result.

How can I Avoid Subluxations?
If you want to keep subluxations from recurring, or new ones from developing, it's best to have periodic adjustments. Combined with a sensible diet and moderate exercise, chiropractic care can help you enjoy the best of health for the rest of your life. Seeing a chiropractor should go with everyone's job!

Subluxations prevent you from enjoying the best of health.
Your chiropractor is a specialist in the detection and prevention of the
Vertebral Subluxation Complex.

Subluxations are most often the underlying cause of many health problems.




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Conditions Treated | Subluxation Complex | Subluxation Degeneration
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