Q #1: “What is a Subluxation?”
A: Officially, a subluxation is an alteration of the normal dynamic, anatomic, or physiologic relationships of contiguous articular structures. Basically, a subluxation is an alteration in position or restriction of motion at a joint. Most commonly referring to the spine, any joint can become “subluxed”. When it occur in the spine, the resulting malposition or restriction of normal motion can affect the nerves that occupy the small space between the vertebra. Lets look at the following images:
As you can see in the image at top right, the bone on top is stuck leaning to the right. This results in a closing of the small hole that the nerves, veins, and arteries come out of. This narrowing can irritate or even pinch the nerve, causing you to feel shooting or lightning-like pain into your legs (or wherever that particular nerve runs).
Q #2: “What is a VSC (vertebral subluxation complex)?”
A: Vertebrae which do not function properly within the spinal framework generate mechanical stress. This causes early and often excessive wear and tear on the surrounding ligaments, disks, muscles, and even neighboring bony tissues. Symptoms such as pain, inflammation, decreased joint mobility, muscle spasm or worse, muscles atrophy (loss of muscle mass) can follow. Furthermore, due to the close relationship between the spine and the nervous system, VSC’s and other spinal abnormalities have to ability to affect the function of the spinal nerves. Once nerve functioning is compromised, communication within the body becomes less effective jeopardizing the overall health and wellness of the individual.
Through extensive research in the subject, doctors have broken the Vertebral Subluxation Complex into 5 components. Collectively they all refer to the Complex part of the VSC.
Kinesiopathology- the alteration of normal vertebral motion or position resulting in pathology.
Neuropathology- compression or stretching of the spinal nerve roots.
Myopathology- muscle spasm, hyper- / hypo-tonicity, atrophy, fibrosis, or improper functioning of muscles.
Histopathology- changes in the tissues of the body, such as bony tissue overgrowth, inflammation, edema, fibrous adhesions in muscles or joints.
Pathophysiology- pathophysiologic and pathoanatomical changes due to the previous four components usually seen locally as degeneration, inflammation, biochemicals from injured tissues, and biochemical waste products.
Q #3: “How long with it take?”
A: Since chiropractic care depends on the healing abilities of each patient, results can vary from patient to patient. Painful symptoms are often alleviated in a short period of time, while complete recovery from the total effect of your subluxations may require ongoing care to normalize and allow you to function at your physical best. However, rest assured Dr. Ludwig will get you back to normal as soon as possible.
Q #4: “What does Chiropractic Cure?”
A: Chiropractic doesn’t cure anything! Nor is it a treatment for the disease. If there’s going to be any curing, your body will do it. Not the doctors. And certainly not drugs. The best doctors reduce the interferences that may be preventing your body from expressing its inborn healing capacity. That’s why Chiropractors are so interested in the nervous system. With a revived nerve supply, your self-healing abilities are unleashed!
Q #5: “How Do You Get Subluxations?”
A: Subluxations are usually the result of physical, emotional, or chemical stresses. Physical stresses might include slips and falls, accidents, repetitive motions, or improper lifting form. Emotional stress, such as grief, anger, depression, and stress may produce or contribute to a subluxation. Alcohol, drugs, or preservatives are common examples of chemical stress on the body.
Q #6: “How Do I Know If I Have A Subluxation?”
A: You can have subluxations and not know it. Like the early stages of tooth decay or even cancer, subluxations can be present without obvious symptoms. The results of a thorough examination can reveal the location and severity of any subluxations you may have.
Q #7: “Will It Hurt?”
Perhaps you are wondering, “When the doctor finds a subluxation in my spine and adjusts it, will it hurt? Chiropractic adjustments usually cause very little, if any, discomfort, and many people find that adjustments are relaxing and actually feel good.
Dr. Ludwig uses as little force as necessary to make an adjustment. He has been trained in several different techniques to suit a wide variety of conditions and accommodate almost any patient request. The equipment that chiropractors use may also affect this question as not all chiropractic tables are made the same. Dr. Ludwig utilizes a Leander Table that is equipped with a certain function that allow him to use a very gentle touch!
Q #8: “Can Children Get Subluxations?”
A: Yes. Learning to walk, riding a bike, or playing sports can cause subluxations that are often passed off as mere “growing pains.” Chiropractors detect and help correct these spinal distortions, providing a clearer path toward proper development. Ignored, these problems may worsen until they become more difficult to correct as an adult.
Q #9: “Can Subluxations Clear Up on their Own?”
A: Sometimes. Today’s hectic lives can be constant sources of subluxations (a new trend called “Text-Neck” is sweeping the nation). Fortunately, our bodies have the ability to self-correct many of these minor problems as we bend and stretch, or when we sleep at night. When subluxations don’t resolve, you need to see us for a professional chiropractic adjustment.
Q #10: “I Crack My Own Neck, Isn’t that the Same Thing?”
A: Probably Not. The cracking and popping sounds are the same, but the location the sound came from is most likely different. When people “self-adjust” the most probable result is that the joints above or below the problem joint are cavitating (the term used for that popping sound). This produces a sound similar to the one heard when a chiropractor adjusts a joint but the actual joint that is restricted or otherwise not functioning properly is left unchanged. Let’s look at another picture where the person is complaining of pain in the neck when leaning to the right.
As you can see, the image on the left depicts that there is in fact a subluxation present. The middle picture is what most likely happens when a person self-adjusts a problem area. The joints above and below the problem joint cavitated but the problem joint remained the same. On the right, the problem joint was addressed properly and the rest of the spine is now in proper alignment while leaning to the right.
Q #11: “What is a Disk Herniation/Bulge? Aren’t they the same thing?”
A herniation by definition is an abnormal protrusion of tissue through an opening.
This same term may be applied to many different types of tissues depending on the injured area. A Disk Herniation, an abdominal herniation, Inguinal Herniations, all involve some type of tissue protruding out where it isn’t supposed to be.
With a Disk Herniation, the Nucleus Pulposus (thick fluid inside the disk) gets squeezed past the outer fibrous layers of the Anulus Fibrosus. Think of your disk like a jelly donut, doughnut? Whatever, a jelly-filled pastry. There is jelly inside of a flaky shell. The jelly can represent the Nucleus and the pastry can act as the Anulus. As seen in the picture on the left, when the Nucleus material protrudes past the Anulus, it can put pressure on the nerve that runs through the area. This nerve pressure is responsible for radiating pain that travels up the back or down the legs.
The difference between a Herniation and a Bulge depends on the severity and the shape of the nucleus as it protrudes. Basically, a Bulge occurs when the Nucleus starts to expand outward against the Anulus. This alone can put pressure on the surrounding nerves. When the bulge puts too much pressure on the Anulus and it finally tears allowing the Nucleus to expand out past the disk fibers, we can now call it a Herniation. Bulges and Herniations have more subcategories of classification that can be explained in greater detail by Dr. Ludwig if you have further questions.