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Most spinal subluxations are caused by injury, unbalanced repetitive motion or weakness due to disuse. The primary factor with injuries causing spinal subluxations is tearing of the disc and other surrounding ligaments. The disc is made of white cartilage fibers that are woven together and laminated in to layers to form the annulus fibrosis. The center of the disc is called the nucleus pulposus. The nucleus is a jelly-like substance that allows compression and acts as a shock absorber.With injury to the disc, the annular fibers can tear to the extent that the laminated layers separate, causing the vertebrae to misalign, resulting in a spinal subluxation.
Adjacent vertebrae (joints) are bound together on the front side of the spine by a disc. The disc is a white fibro-cartilage pad that acts as a retaining ligament and shock absorber. The vertebrae are fastened to the disc and do not glide back and forth, but rather move slightly with a rocking motion in all directions on top of the disc. On the back part of the spinal joint there are two small movable joints on each side called facet joints. The facet joints do glide on one another with the rocking motion of the spine. There is not a great deal of motion between vertebrae, but with 24 joints stacked on top of one another, we get a flexible and stable trunk.
In humans, the spine usually consists of 24 articulating vertebrae, and nine fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx. It is situated in the
back part of the torso, separated by intervertebral discs. It houses and protects the spinal cord in its spinal canal. There are normally 33 vertebrae in humans, including the five that are fused to form the sacrum. (the others are separated by intervertebral discs) and the four coccygeal bones that form the tailbone. The upper three regions comprise the remaining 24, and are grouped under the names cervical (7 vertebrae), thoracic (12 vertebrae) and lumbar (5 vertebrae), according to the regions they occupy. This number is sometimes increased by an additional vertebra in one region, or it may be diminished in one region, the deficiency often being supplied by an additional vertebra in another.
Tight Muscle Reaction
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Frequently, a subluxation has existed for a long period of time before the person starts experiencing symptoms. By that time, the muscles of the spine have adapted to the incorrect position of the vertebrae. This creates a pattern of distortion throughout the entire body. If left untreated, the unbalanced wearing of the joints can cause secondary problems such as hip, knee or foot pain. For that reason, it may take a series of adjustments before the muscles become accustomed to holding the vertebrae in the proper position. The muscles have to be retrained. It is almost like playing tug-of-war with your body for a while - the doctor adjusts the spine and the muscles, ligaments, and tendons pull it back out! For this reason, it is very important to introduce specific corrective exercises to help speed and stabilize log-term results.
As adults, there may be auto accidents, work injuries, poor posture, or stress that affect the spine. Many of the activities of daily life can cause subluxations. The way we run, walk, sit and sleep are always affected by gravity, and the spine bears the most of this and can become subluxated if it has an excessive stress put on it. Certain foods, drugs and other chemical substances may also react with your body and create subluxations. Dehydration is also a key cause of spinal dysfunction. Stress and other emotional triggers and chills can also affect the functioning of your spine through the physical tension they cause. Many subluxations however are caused in childhood and show up as problems later in life. Like the early stages of tooth decay, heart disease or cancer, vertebral subluxations can adversely affect your health, even if you don't have obvious symptoms.
Phases of Care
Basic, Relief or Initial Intensive Care This level of care is designed to stabilize your spine and begin to improve its function as soon as possible. When beginning care, adjustments are relatively frequent to maximize their effect. Healing often takes time, much like if you dropped a brick on your foot, when you take it off, you still need time to heal before it starts feeling better. Intermediate, Corrective or Reconstructive Care Continuing adjustments on a slightly less frequent basis to return the function of your spine to as near as possible to normal. This is the level of care that usually produces the major changes in the function of your spine and nervous system as chronic or underlying subluxations are corrected. Generally, the longer your spine has been working incorrectly, the longer it will take to change. This stage will enable you to make more supportive changes regarding every aspect of your lifestyle. Advanced or Wellness Care The lives of most people include ample opportunities to create subluxations. Wellness care involves regular spinal checks and adjustments to continue the improvement in the function of your spine and correct subluxations as you create them. Generally people in this level of care experience greater energy levels, improved ability to concentrate, they become sick less often, they are more able to adapt to stresses and they are overall more healthy and happy; functioning at a higher level.
Subluxations can occur at any age. Often the first subluxation occurs at birth. The most common subluxation at birth involves the cervical spine or neck. This usually happens during the delivery and can be a natural result of the pressure of childbirth as the head and neck are compressed during delivery. More commonly, it is caused by doctors who attempt to pull the infant through the birth canal. Studies have shown that some doctors can use up to 80lbs of pressure on the baby's neck assisting childbirth. Later in childhood, learning to walk, riding bikes, climbing trees, etc. are often other causes of subluxations. Adolescents who participate in sports may also experience problems.