This could be the most important page on the entire internet, it is taking me longer than I had hoped to get it all up here so please bear with me. Please take your time here, feel free to call the "real" office or e-mail me if you have questions that I haven't answered to your satisfaction.
Subluxation, strange word isn't it. It is a word used by chiropractors to describe a process that starts very subtly, and is difficult to detect in the early stages. Later it becomes easily visible on x-ray as a disc space that is much reduced when compared to the others above and below it. The medical definition of subluxation describes a joint that almost got dislocated, but didn't quite make it - that would almost always be a trauma one would think...
My desire here is to describe the characteristics of the early stages of subluxation so that it would make real sense to all readers and so that they might learn to do some things on their own to reduce their chances of suffering from the late effects I see so often.
It is unfortunate that pain is usually the first indicator that something is amiss and that is when most people find their way to a chiropractor (if they are lucky) Pain doesn't come from a subluxation until late in the game (or obviously after a trauma)
5 aspects of subluxation
Eventually leading to different levels of degeneration
Subluxation setting the stage for ruptured discs
the ongoing process of subluxation, and the effect time plays on the
This is a representation of one type of
subluxation. A subluxation, as defined by the Association of
Chiropractic Colleges is: "A
subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological
articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ
system function and general health." When a
subluxation occurs it causes nerve interference in some portion of the body
affected by those nerves. The subluxation causes changes to the
structure as well as the nerves. These changes get progressively worse
as time is allowed to work on the subluxated area of the spine. These
changes take the form of ongoing degeneration known as "subluxation
degeneration". By understanding the type and amount of changes, it
is possible to reasonably estimate the time subluxations have been present in
a spine. Having this information is useful in understanding the time and
effort needed for correction.
This is a side x-ray view of the neck.
As with all the pictures you will see on this page, the patient is looking to
the right of the screen, so you are viewing the right side of their neck.
We will call this picture a "near normal" spine. Compare this
spine with the ones you will see below on this page. Notice the normal
forward curve of the neck. This curve helps absorb shock. Notice
how each of the disc spaces between C2 (second bone in neck) and C7 are thick
and even, this again is normal. Also notice how the front portions
(right on the x-ray) of each of the vertebrae (called the 'body' of the
vertebrae) are fairly square with clear and well defined borders. This type of
arrangement is normal in the neck. Normal vertebrae in other parts of
the spine also have similar characteristics to what we see here. When
subluxations occur and are left uncorrected, ongoing relentless changes occur
that result in damage to the structure and function of the spine along with
nerve damage and the resulting problems caused from improper nerve supply.
Phase One Subluxation
Phase One Subluxation Degeneration is
seen in subluxations that have been present for up to twenty years. This
phase is characterized with a loss or change in the normal curve in the spine.
On this example you can see that the normal forward (lordotic) curve is lost.
This spine even has developed a reverse curve in the neck. The disc
spaces have also begun to exhibit a slight change in shape. One good
point is that the bodies of each of the vertebrae (the square part in front)
still exhibits clean clear borders. Segmental motion may be
abnormal but overall motion is probably not affected. Chiropractic
reconstructive care for a phase one can take from 6 to 18 months. More
than 80% of people with Phase One Subluxation Degeneration have no pain.
Therefore, if left uncorrected, phase one continues to progress with time
until it eventually reaches the next phase.
Phase Two Subluxation
Phase two subluxation degeneration is
normally seen in subluxations that have been present between 20 and 40 years.
This phase has some of the same characteristics of the previous phase
including a loss of normal curvature and position as well as an alteration in
segmental motion. In addition, spines with Phase Two Subluxation
Degeneration many times show a reduction in the patient's range of motion in
that area. X-rays of a phase two begin to show calcium changes or
buildup at certain levels of the spine. These changes are sometimes
called by many names including spurs and arthritis. Disc spaces between
the affected vertebrae are noticeably narrower and may appear to be flattening
out. Although most people with Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration may
not exhibit any symptoms, some may start to feel stiff or achy.
Chiropractic reconstructive care for patients in phase two ranges from 1.5
years to 2.5 years. Again, if Phase Two Subluxation Degeneration is left
uncorrected it slowly advances to the next phase.
Phase Three Subluxation
Phase Three Subluxation Degeneration is
caused by subluxations that have been continuing on for between 40 and 65
years. This phase has all of the attributes of the previous phases, only
worse. The curvatures are abnormal, the disc spaces are vastly decreased
and changed. Calcium changes on the spine are abundant in this phase.
Normally, people in phase three have a restricted range of motion and probably
exhibit symptoms of some kind. In phase three the vertebrae show obvious
changes and mutations in shape. Projections made of calcium, sometimes
referred to as "spurs or lipping", can be readily seen on x-ray.
Chiropractic reconstructive care for patients in phase three ranges from 2.5
years to 3.5 years. This does not mean that at the end of this time that
any or all of the calcium changes will be gone. In many instances the
body adapts to the presence of the calcium and positive changes can only be
measured from a functional standpoint. As before, if Phase Three
Subluxation Degeneration is left unchecked it slowly advances onward into the
Phase Four Subluxation
Phase four subluxation degeneration is
seen with subluxations that have been raging on uncorrected or altered for
over sixty five years. Phase four is a grave condition that will
negatively affect the patients longevity and quality of life. The
massive amount of neurological damage caused by years of subluxation that have
lead to phase four are probably taking a serious toll on this person's health
status. X-rays in phase four show serious severe structural changes.
Vertebrae exhibit massive calcium changes, disc spaces appear blurred, and the
bones themselves appear fused. In this scenario the patient will have a
severe restriction of range of motion in addition to probably a number of
other health issues. Reconstruction may not be possible in phase four,
but care can be directed to some reduction in subluxation with the goal of
improvement in the quality of life remaining. Patients in Phase Four
Subluxation Degeneration have a serious situation both structurally and
neurologically, but they are certainly not beyond hope. Many patients in
phase four report significant improvements in symptoms, conditions, mobility
and quality of life.
should be noted that the above are common guidelines and not hard rules.
Every person is dynamic and different. People degenerate at different
rates and heal at different rates. The further along your spine may be
with subluxation degeneration the more strenuous and time consuming your road
to improvement will be. For this reason we always stress early care to
stop and prevent the advancement of subluxation degeneration. Of course,
if you're not under chiropractic care, the best time to start is NOW!
No Drugs, No Surgery, All Natural, All without charging you an arm and a leg!
Thank you for visiting, I appreciate you considering our facility to assist you in achieving your healthcare goals.
Dr. Charles Dixon DC