The brain and spinal cord are the primary pathways for nerve impulses to and from the brain. The messages that travel back and forth along these nerves control the health and function of virtually every other cell, tissue, organ and system of the body.
Nerve tissue is protected by bone: the brain is encased in the skull, and the spinal cord is covered by the 24 moving bones, or vertebrae, that make up the spinal column. When something happens to cause these bones to lose their normal motion or position, it sets off a chain reaction that affects the spinal bones, nerves, muscles, soft tissues and results in degenerative changes throughout the body. Chiropractors refer to this as the Vertebral Subluxation Complex.
Researchers continue to confirm the far-reaching effects of abnormal spinal function. Due to the intricacies of the nervous system, more research is being conducted in the areas of immune system response, aging, hormonal involvement and even genetic consequences. The Vertebral Subluxation Complex may be one of the most common, yet overlooked sources of health problems.
Although many people think that chiropractic care is limited to back pain, you might be surprised to learn that the world’s first chiropractic patient (1895) was saved from 17 years of deafness and the world’s second chiropractic patient was relieved of a heart condition. Thousands soon credited chiropractic for saving them from headaches, colds, allergies, asthma, sciatica, arthritis, seizures, ear infections, stomach trouble, gynecological problems and many other conditions in addition to back pain. Dr. McDougle’s treatments are meant to reduce your symptoms caused by the Vertebral Subluxation Complex and allow your body to return to its normal and healthy function.
The Vertebral Subluxation Complex is recognized by its five component parts.
1. Spinal Kinesiopathology
The bones of the spine are designed to move, while at the same time protecting the spinal cord and nerve roots. Physical trauma, emotional stress or chemical imbalances can cause the joints to become fixated. When they cannot move enough, they force other joints to move too much, distorting normal spinal curves and compromising proper function. In some cases, problems in one area of the spine can cause compensation reactions in other areas.
Dr. McDougle can detect this aspect of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex by analyzing your posture, taking diagnostic X-rays with line drawing analysis and analyzing your ability to turn and bend as well as assess your dysfunction with devices such as the Pro-Adjuster.
2. Neuropathophysiology (abnormal nervous system function)
Abnormal spinal function can rub, pinch, irritate or choke the delicate tissues of the spinal cord and nerve roots. Although they are commonly associated with spinal problems, pinched nerves (compressive lesion) – which can result in numbness, burning or a “pins and needles” feeling – are actually quite rare and are probably only responsible for 10% to 15% of spine-related problems.
More frequently, nerves are irritated (facilitative lesion) by improperly functioning spinal structures. This is caused when nerve tissue is stretched, twisted or irritated by malfunctioning spinal curves. Nervous system impairment can affect the tissues organs, and systems of your body, increasing the susceptibility of disease and poor health.
3. Myopathology (Abnormal Muscle Function)
When muscle function is impaired from too much or too little nerve supply, muscles that support the spine respond in different ways. When nerve muscles are diminished, muscles supporting the spine can weaken or atrophy. When muscles are over stimulated from nerve irritation, supporting muscles can become tight and go into spasm. In either extreme, fibrotic scar tissue can form in these muscles, changing their elasticity. This damage to the supporting muscles of the spine creates the need for repeated chiropractic adjustments. 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.
4. Histiopathology (Abnormal soft tissue function)
When the spinal joint malfunctions, discs, ligaments and other connective tissue are also affected. 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 can become inflamed and swollen, 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 – and complete healing often requires continued care even after the relief of obvious symptoms.
When there is malfunction or trauma to a joint, one of the ways the body responds is to grow new bone. Over time, calcium deposits can build up, eventually recognizable as bone spurs and other abnormal bony growths. 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 a solid block of calcium. Throughout the body, degenerative changes can be seen in other organs and systems. Many health conditions not normally thought of as related to “back problems”, can be traced back to nervous system impairment by the spine. While often seen in the elderly, this degenerative condition is not part of the normal aging process – this type of spinal decay is the result of spinal problems that have been ignored or neglected for many years.