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  • Writer's pictureClaire Hagen D.C.

What's a subluxation?


Some chiropractors use the term "subluxation". Although I personally do not use this term, I would like to explain it because it is part of some of the core principles of chiropractic and even though it creates debate from time to time within the chiropractic community, it is important for everyone to understand its meaning.

Let's start by defining dislocation.

Dislocation refers to a displacement of one joint surface in relation to another. This causes a break in joint continuity.

In everyday language, we often speak of a joint that is dislocated. A knee, a shoulder or a thumb can dislocate.

Subluxation, literally "below dislocation", is an incomplete dislocation, by partial and abnormal displacement of the two bony ends of a joint. It potentially concerns all the joints of the human body.

Dislocations and subluxations can occur with or without trauma and can sometimes occur spontaneously.

Unlike dislocations, which are often (very) painful, subluxations can go unnoticed.

But just because they are not felt by the patient does not mean they do not exist. Especially in terms of their effects, which lead the person to consult.

Subluxation for chiropractors

Chiropractic's holistic approach to the human body does not reduce the patient's symptoms to a single subluxation but to a set of subluxations.

Therefore, chiropractors use the word subluxation to include a complex of functions (i.e., the subluxation complex) as " alteration in the biomechanical and physiological dynamics of contiguous structures that can cause neural disruption."

What does this mean for the patient?

- Blood does not circulate normally locally (hyperemia)

- Pain due to the development of toxins (joint affects muscle) that irritate nerve endings (congestion)

- Small blood vessels in the body (capillaries) are damaged or put under pressure. - - This causes excess fluid to leak out and accumulate in the tissues, resulting in swelling (edema).

- Normal tissue is replaced by scar tissue. This is common in people with recurrent back pain (fibrosis).

- Severe muscle pain due to lack of blood flow in the muscle (local ischemia).

- Rigidity (lack of flexibility) of ligaments, tendons and muscles (tissue rigidity).

In order to understand the great complexity of subluxations, let us note that the classification of the Houston Conference of Chiropractors identifies 17 types of subluxations, just for vertebral subluxations.

Treatment of subluxations

In the first instance the chiropractor will perform "chiropractic adjustments".

But often, complete healing cannot be achieved without the help of the patient who will have to either abandon bad habits or adopt new ones for prophylactic purposes.

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