A little known fact about the chiropractic profession is the inner turmoil regarding the term “subluxation”. A subluxation is a slight malposition of the bones of a joint. Chiropractic coined the term, in it’s inception, to mean a spinal joint is out of alignment. With the subluxation came the premise that when the vertebra is subluxated it would naturally impinge on the nerve or nerves associated with that particular segment of the spine. Not only could this subluxation cause pain because of the malposition but because of the spinal nerve impingement it could also affect the health of the tissues and organs that the nerves go to. Pretty simple premise really, easy to understand and it makes some sense, after all the central nervous system is involved in bodily function. However, there’s a little glitch that science just won’t turn a blind eye to, and that is we simply cannot demonstrate that the darn thing exists. Yeah, the chiropractor feels around and finds a tender spot and cracks the spine and it sounds and feels like the darn thing was reset and it feels better too! But when we try to reproduce this assessment and treatment process, chiropractors are not in agreement as to what segment is out of alignment, what direction it’s out and when we actually manipulate we are never consistent with what we are trying to move, in other words we “adjust” different segments in error more consistently than the segment we are trying to adjust. Bear in mind that the outcomes remain about the same but we can’t prove it’s because the vertebra is out and we reset it or correct it. So, what’s a mother to do? We love our child the subluxation so we must continue to embrace it? At least 45% of chiropractors do embrace the premise fervently and others as well, to some degree, and then again a few reject it all together.
As for me, I think , perhaps, it’s ok to inform people that anecdotally we see some patients with problems other than back an neck pain or headaches improve with spinal manipulation but that the science to support it just isn’t there yet. This allows one (consumer/patient) to make an informed choice about what they are about to pay for.
Meanwhile, back on the farm as the debate continues, the rest of the healthcare world scratches and shakes it’s head… and moves on; without chiropractic I might add.