Our Health Library

Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC)

Introduction

The brain stem and spinal cord are the primary pathways for nerve impulses to and from the brain. Messages back and forth through these nerves control the health and function of virtually every other cell, tissue, organ, and system of the body.

Nerve tissue is so important, it is protected by bone. The brain is encased by the skull, and the spinal cord is covered by 24 moving bones of the spinal column.

Many everyday things can cause these bones to lose their normal motion or position. This sets off a chain reaction affecting the spinal bones, nerves, muscles, soft tissues, and results in degenerative changes throughout the body. Doctors of Chiropractic refer to this as the Vertebral Subluxation Complex.

Besides describing how the spine can affect your overall health, the Vertebral Subluxation Complex explains why it takes time to restore optimum health. The Vertebral Subluxation Complex is the underlying cause of many health problems and is recognized by its five component parts:

    b.gif (317 bytes) Spinal Kinesiopathology
    b.gif (317 bytes) Neuropathophysiology
    b.gif (317 bytes) Myopathology
    b.gif (317 bytes) Histopathology
    b.gif (317 bytes) Pathophysiology

b.gif (317 bytes) Spinal Kinesiopathology - abnormal motion of the spinal bones.

    The bones of the spine are designed to move and protect the delicate spinal cord and nerve roots. But, sometimes their movement is altered, they either become stuck or start moving too much.

    Abnormal spinal movement can be caused by physical trauma (repetitive motion, car accidents, slips, falls, improper lifting, poor sleeping habits), emotional stress (worry, negative thoughts, fear), or chemical imbalances (alcohol, drugs, toxins, pollutions.)

    When spinal joints are fixated ('stuck'), other joints must compensate and move too much.  This results in distorted normal spinal curves and compromises proper function, causes problems in other areas of the spine.

    Doctors of Chiropractic can detect this aspect of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex by analyzing your posture, taking diagnostic X-rays, measuring your ability to turn and bend, plus other tests.

    The primarily effect of the spinal adjustment is to restore proper spinal motion.

b.gif (317 bytes) Neuropathophysiology - abnormal nerve system function

    Because of the way your spine is designed, abnormal spinal function can rub, pinch, or irritate the delicate tissues of the spinal cord and nerve roots.  While commonly associated with spinal problems, an actual pinched nerve is quite rare.  It is estimated that only 10-15% of spinal-related problems are caused by direct pressure of bone on nerve tissue.

    Nerve tissue irritation can result in numbness, burning, or a 'pins and needles' feeling.  This nerve system impairment can affect the tissues, organs, and other systems of the body, increasing the susceptibility of disease and ill health.

    When the communication lines from the brain to the rest of the body
    are not functioning properly, you can suffer from hypertension, indigestion, pain, and numbness.

b.gif (317 bytes) Myopathology - abnormal muscle function

    When spinal joints stop moving properly, muscles have to work much harder to control your spine's movements.  As a result some muscles will atrophy (waste away) while others are forced to work harder and go into spasms.

    In chronic or long standing cases scar tissue can form in these muscles, changing their ability to work.  This damage to the supporting muscles of the spine is why repeated adjustments are often necessary and adjustments don't seem to 'hold.' It also explains why long-standing spinal problems are so difficult and time-consuming to correct. Without proper rehabilitation, many patients experience a relapse of their original health complaint.

    The spinal muscles are the guide wires that support the spine.  If they can't
    work properly, the result will be chronic pain, muscle fatigue and swelling.

b.gif (317 bytes) Histopathology - abnormal soft tissue function

    When there is spinal joint malfunction, the discs, ligaments, and other connective tissue are also affected.

    While technically you can't have a 'slipped' disc, the soft pulpy discs that separate each spinal vertebrae can tear, bulge, herniate, and degenerate. Ligaments and other connective tissues in the area of the malfunctioning spinal joint are often involved. Inflammation and swelling accompany the accumulation of blood and lymph, causing a rise in temperature.

    Unlike most other tissues of the body, discs and ligaments have a poor blood supply. This makes the healing of soft tissues a very slow and time-consuming process.

    In fact, complete healing often requires continued care even after the relief of obvious symptoms.

    Ligaments, tendons and spinal discs have a poor blood supply and heal slowly.
    This is why proper nutrition, rest and repeated spinal adjustments are needed to completely
    eliminate the cause of your pain.

b.gif (317 bytes) Pathophysiology - abnormal function of the spine and body

    When there is malfunction or trauma to a joint, one of the ways the body responds is to stabilize the area by growing new bone.

    Over time, bony deposits can build up, eventually recognizable as bone spurs growing from your spine.  This arthritic 'splinting' of adjacent bones is nature's attempt to stabilize the malfunctioning joint. If ignored or neglected long enough, the body can turn a once mobile joint into one solid bone.

    Throughout the body, degenerative changes can be seen in other organs and systems. Many health conditions not normally considered related to 'back problems,' can often be traced back to the nerve system impairment by the spine.

    While often seen in the aged, this degenerative condition is not part of the normal aging process. This type of spinal decay is the result of spinal problems which have been ignored or neglected for many years.

    If your spinal joints are not moving properly,
    degeneration of your spine and health will be the result.

What Causes A Subluxation ?

    b.gif (317 bytes) Automobile Accidents
    b.gif (317 bytes) Emotional Stress
    b.gif (317 bytes) Improper Lifting
    b.gif (317 bytes) Alcohol
    b.gif (317 bytes) Chemical Imbalances
    b.gif (317 bytes) Long periods of sitting
    b.gif (317 bytes) Poor Posture
    b.gif (317 bytes) Poor Ergonomics
    b.gif (317 bytes) Car Accidents / Falls

The primary job of the Doctor of Chiropractic is to detect, correct and help prevent the Vertebral Subluxation Complex using Chiropractic spinal manipulation (the Adjustment) as the primary form of treatment. Applying a carefully and precisely directed force exerted by his or her hands to the spine, the Doctor of Chiropractic is able to restore normal motion and function to the spine, thereby reducing or eliminating the Vertebral Subluxation Complex.

Subluxations prevent you from enjoying the best of health.
Your chiropractor is a specialist in the detection and prevention of the
Vertebral Subluxation Complex.

b.gif (317 bytes) Vertebral Subluxation Complex - a brief description and explanation of the Subluxation Complex.
b.gif (317 bytes) Vertebral Subluxation Complex - see which spinal joints may be the cause of your health problems.
b.gif (317 bytes) *How do Subluxations affect my health?