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The word Subluxation consists of three parts:

Sub: Decease.
Lux: Light.
Ation: Condition.

Early chiropractors described the bodies nerve flow as its guiding light or life force. Therefore a condition in which this flow was impeded was said to diminish the vital force and its light.

A Chiropractic Subluxation consists of a collection of elements that are caused by injuries to the spine and are controlled by the nervous system that creates a dysfunctional pattern and nerve irritation and diminishes nerve function.

When a Subluxation caused by a minor injury starts to alter your bodies normal patterns and causes further injury and structural change and inflammation then pain is felt!

There are a collection of Pathological (Unhealthy or Degenerative) changes that occur in nerve, muscle, ligamentous, vascular (blood vessels) and connective tissues (ligaments, cartilage, bone and supporting tissues) (Gatterman, 1995).

The subluxation is therefore a motion segment in which neurological function, alignment (position), movement integrity, and physiologic functions are altered (Lantz, 1995).

Nervous System

The neurological component of the Subluxation is considered the cornerstone in chiropractic theory. The nervous system is the mediator of health and vitality to all the tissues, muscles and organs. Alterations in nervous system function can alter the functionality of motor responses (muscle contraction and function), reflexes, pain reception, and touch sensation reception (Lantz, 1995).

Movement/ Kinesiology

Deceased or altered motion of a spinal segment causes changes in the nervous systems reception of the segment. This can initiate and perpetuate the Subluxation.

Mechanical loading of gravitational force in a segment that doesn’t move appropriately is altered and can lead to micro injuries that can cause degeneration over time. Mechanical interaction of the affected segment with other segments causes unhealthy compensatory changes at the other segments and cause injury to them as well.


Your brain controls your muscle tone and function. Local nerve irritation also affects the normal control of these elements. Muscle tone increases as muscles spasm to protect injured motion segments and the normal contraction, movement and strength of the muscles are altered. This alteration of muscle function causes fatigue and atrophic degeneration of the muscle: muscle fibres start to break down and are replaced by connective tissue and fat.

Connective Tissue

Connective tissue is the supporting ligamentous tissue of the body. It is made up of collagen fibres, fluid and the unique cells that sustain it. If the collagen fibres are densely packed and are aligned it forms a ligament, if the collagen fibres are covered with Calcium it forms bone and if they are covered with specific hard proteins it forms cartilage. When immobility, mechanical stresses or inflammation affect the connective tissue it increases its collagen content and creates scar tissue (fibrosis) which makes ligaments think and inelastic and decreases cartilage strength. It also increases the amount of bone growth. These changes cause the degenerative signs of; immobility, injured cartilage and extra bone growth associated with arthritis.

Blood flow

Altered movement can cause mechanical compression of arteries and veins this limits the amount of fresh blood and oxygen to an area and impedes venous drainage so that waste products collect and cause inflammation. Nerve control of the dialation of the blood vessels can also change.


Inflammatory chemicals are those that cause pain, swelling, changes in blood flow and affect nerves and there excitability.

Hyperexcitable nerves fire more readily and carry more pain signals to the brain.