Barisch Family Chiropractic

 

What is Chiropractic

The Nervous System is Central

All living organisms are able to detect changes within themselves and in their environments. Changes in the external environment include those of light, temperature, sound, motion and odor. Changes in the internal environment include those in the position of the head and limbs as well as in the internal organs. Once detected, these internal and external changes must be analyzed and acted upon in order to preserve the integrity, well-being, and status quo of the organism.

The nervous system is based upon the almost instantaneous transmission of impulses from one region of the body to another along specialized nerve cells. In the centralized system of the human body, a portion of the nervous system has a dominant role in coordinating information and directing responses. This centralization consists of the brain and spinal cord. Impulses are carried to and from the brain and spinal cord by nerve fibers that make up the peripheral nervous system.

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

First, the simple explanation. Subluxation.

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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, or are undergoing physical changes such as degeneration. This component is sometimes known as kinesiopathology

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. This component is scientifically known as neuropathology

The Muscle Component is also involved. Since the muscles help hold the vertebrae in place, and since nerves contr ol the muscles themselves, muscles are an integral part of any VSC. In fact, muscles both affect, and are affected by the VSC. This component is known as myopathology

The Soft Tissue Component is when you have misaligned vertebrae and pressure on nerves resulting in changes in the surrounding soft tissues. This means the tendons, ligaments, blood supply, 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. These chemical changes can be slight or massive depending on what parts of your body are affected by your subluxations. This component is often known as biochemicalabnormalities

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.

Subluxation Degeneration

Understanding the ongoing process of subluxation, and the effect time plays on the subluxated spine.

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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.

Near Normal

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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 Degeneration

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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 Degeneration

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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 Degeneration

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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 next phase.

Phase Four Subluxation Degeneration

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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.

Subluxation over time leads to Degeneration

Start with the Spine

Now that you have a greater understanding of the spine and its important relationship to the nervous system, we can take a closer look at some of the nerves and see some of the problems that can develop when the spine is subluxated or is misaligned.

According to current scientific information, "Your health and well-being depends on a normally functioning nervous system regardless of age or health history."

The Doctor

The doctor of chiropractic's responsibility is to correctly analyze the subluxation and to measure its distortion effects on the patient's body. The analysis may consist of x-raying the spine, measuring the degrees of the vertebral displacements into the planes of motion, and establishing the procedure for the adjustment in each case. Treatment consists of maximally reducing the misalignments of the spine, restoring the spinal and pelvic distortions to the vertical axis of the body, and monitoring the patient's progress.

It is crucial that a patient comply to obtain the best results because vertebral subluxation is a complex mechanism. The patient should be monitored until the body is stable in a balanced position. Muscular and ligament damage create weakness that will likely take weeks or months to stabilize. The patient should be checked for neurological interference regardless how he or she feels. He or she should also realize that some subluxations are more difficult to handle than others, and some cases are pathological whereas others are functional.

Recovery Time

A rough assessment of a patient's rate of recovery depends on:

• His/her type of condition
• The length of the time the patient has been subluxated
• The time required for nerve and/or tissue repair
• The protection the patient gives his/her adjustment
• General state of the patient's health and age
• Patient's exposure to stress and fatigue
• Environmental factors affecting the patient
• The injuries the patient may suffer during the treatment period
• How long the adjustment holds its restored position
• The difficulty of the adjustment

The presence of anomalies, malformations, and pathologies in the cervical spine also delay recovery.

Patients should report all injuries to the doctor, however slight, as they may produce a change in the subluxation pattern, requiring a change in the adjustment. The healing process ceases whenever the subluxation recurs, and whenever the pattern changes the adjustment is no longer effective.

The patient who "holds" his/her adjustment (i.e., requires no adjustment) will obtain faster results. S/he may not immediately feel better because healing time is required, but response is more certain. There are, however, many reasons why subluxation recurs. Injuries and patient care of the adjustment have been discussed. In some cases tendons become stretched in the original injury that produced the subluxation. Tendons, once stretched, do not regain their tonicity. The head rests on the atlas and weighs about 10 pounds, resting on a very small surface. This arrangement makes for instability. Additionally, no boney locks exist, as in other spinal vertebrae, to hold the atlas in place after it has been re-set.

Exercise

Patients frequently engage in exercise programs. These exercises, in some cases, can be harmful to patient progress. You should advise your chiropractor of the type of exercise they are currently engaged in and discuss their effects with them.

How did I get this way?

From something so natural as the birth process to something as unnatural as an car accident, many outside forces can cause the spine to be misaligned.

Shifting the Balance

Accidents that tear loose ligaments that hold the spinal bones together create a weakness for the spine to misalign. Because of the close relationship between the spine and the nervous system, good spinal balance is critical for good health. If the head shifts, for any reason, our body will naturally compensate.

With injury or stress, the muscles in the back will tighten and the pelvis will also shift in order to be so closely aligned with the head as possible. The body and spine become distorted and locked into a stressed posture. Misalignment of the spine can come from many sources. Have you ever experienced any of these activities?

• Sports activities - skiing, golf, tennis, racquetball, basketball, netball, rugby, cricket
• Daily activities - housework, laundry, changing a bed
• Getting in and out of the car
• Lifting/carrying shopping

Amazingly, the body will continue to function even when the spine is misaligned. But it will not function as well as possible and a variety of health problems can arise. Since we are all vulnerable to accidents and stresses that may cause the spine to misalign, it is important to be well educated about spinal care and how to regain healthy balance. A misaligned spine is extremely susceptible to further injury. Periodic check-ups help avoid a relapse.

Who Me, Stressed?

Almost anything can add stress to our spinal column. Road traffic accidents, a serious fall, degenerative diseases, and even just living with gravity can alter our spinal alignment. With so many options available today it's tough to know where to turn for corrective and preventive care. That's where chiropractic care comes in. In order to fully recover and stabilize, you must maintain your correction. To achieve this goal, here are some basic guidelines to follow during your initial days of healing. Following these guidelines can assist greatly in maintaining your correction.

• Avoid strenuous activities and sports
• Schedule in plenty of rest
• Avoid any sudden or jarring movements
• Refrain from other procedures on your head and neck until your initial correction has stabilized.

Your correction will need to be monitored by your chiropractor during this initial healing process to accurately assess your progress. While you must make a solid commitment to take charge of your own health, remember that your doctor is available to help. Whether through educational programs, additional written information or just an encouraging word, you can count on your doctor to be knowledgeable, understanding and helpful.

Evaluation and Treatment

Once you have decided to be examined for a spinal misalignment, an extensive evaluation process begins. The process begins by looking at your detailed health history, including any past traumas, road traffic accidents, surgeries, other treatment programs and other diagnostic tests including other x-rays. Your chief complaints, including location, onset, and duration must all be evaluated and assessed. After concluding this initial process, the doctor will begin the steps necessary to determine if you are a candidate for chiropractic care.