Is Your Spine Actually "Out of Alignment"?

If you have been to a chiropractor before, you may have heard that your spine is out of alignment. Since the beginning of chiropractic care this has been the basis for treatment. The idea is that the vertebrae (back bones) are supposed to be aligned perfectly, and when they are not, it can cause pain. The term some chiropractors use when describing bones out of place is subluxation. Older chiropractic philosophy believes these subluxations can pinch nerves and interfere with the body’s natural ability to heal. The problem with this theory is that it is just that, a theory, with little to no scientific backing. Using the word subluxation for this type of issue can also be confusing when your chiropractor is attempting to work with your family doctor. The medical definition of this term is when a bone temporarily dislocates, and then moves back into socket. Patients with a history of shoulder dislocations may be familiar with subluxations, as it is one of the most common areas for a bone to slip out of socket, and resolve itself quickly by sliding back into place.

The concept of subluxation for chiropractors is slowly phasing out. In theory, needing to readjust misalignments in the spine makes sense. It is OK for a profession to re-evaluate what they are treating and modernize their form of care. This is constantly happening with physical therapists and medical doctors. Current research disagrees with the subluxation theory, and many chiropractors are now using this evidence to change their style of treatment. Spine alignnment is different from person to person. There are many reasons for a spine to feel as if it is not aligned, including arthritis, muscle imbalances, poor posture, and scoliosis. Chiropractors are not physically capable of restructuring this through a manual adjustment. The idea of the bone being out of place, and the chiropractor pushing it back into place is dated. Chiropractors are now focusing more on restrictions within the joints of the spine, as well as muscular dysfunctions that may be causing these restrictions.

Chiropractors treat a number of conditions that cause back and neck pain, and the subluxation does not seem to be one of them. Some of these conditions that cause pain, and respond well to spinal manipulation are arthritis, facet syndrome, postural imbalances, myalgia (or muscle pain), and sprains/strains and minor disc herniations of the neck and back. The chiropractic manipulation is a modality used to induce motion and relax the spine, not realign it. In order for the patient to receive the best quality care, the spinal manipulation should be one piece of the puzzle. When choosing a chiropractor make sure they add more to your treatment than just the manipulation. Rehabilitation exercises to improve motion, and muscle imbalances are important. As well as muscle release stretches to relieve tension in muscles around the spine.

If you have any other questions about what may be causing your neck or back pain, please do not hesitate to reach out to Rochester ChiroTherapy, either through my email or by phone 585-678-1153.