What is a subluxation? Let’s look at how subluxations can be detected and what signs or symptoms may accompany a subluxation. We said a subluxation is a joint whose movement is stuck. This is why you could see a subluxation on an x-ray of your spine. If you haven’t been to my office you might be wondering if I use x-rays. To answer that I would say if you have had x-rays taken before I would be glad to have a look at them. But in my office I don’t take x-rays of all patients. I have arrangements that allow me to order x-rays at several hospitals as well as with some private doctors. The reason I don’t take x-rays of all patients has to do with the two different views of subluxations. First let’s look at the other way you can detect a subulxation. We said a subluxation is a joint whose movement is stuck.
This is why you can also detect one with your hands by moving the joint
and feeling for the ‘stuck’ or restricted movement.
Okay, the 2 views of subuluxation. The first view is called a static view. It is the one usually adopted by those who rely heavily on the use of x-rays. It is a good view, don’t misunderstand me. You can glean information on what else may be going on as well as whether there might be a slightly better technique or move to use to adjust a given subluxation or misalignment. If I am concerned that an adjustment could place a patient at risk of any type of problem, I order x-rays first. Otherwise I usually order them if the recovery is not progressing. What downside might there be to using x-rays? Well, when I was in Chiropractic College one of my professors was a strong believer in the static view and one of my colleagues didn’t share his beliefs. So my colleague went and got x-rays and let the professor adjust her. After the adjustment she jumped up off the table, grabbed the x-rays off the view-box and calmly said, “Well, we may as well throw these away because you just fixed them.”
This story helps to illustrate one of the downsides of relying too much on the use of x-rays to find subluxations. If I would x-ray every patient before I treat them the first time, then adjust the patient to correct those subluxations I found on x-rays, what would I do the next time that patient visited my office? Some chiropractors that believe in the static view and use x-rays on all their patients would simply re-adjust only the misalignments they found on those initial x-rays. I’m trying not to be too critical of those that practice this way, only I see the body as very dynamic and constantly adapting to its environment. Because the body is this way, you could have misalignments at quite different spinal levels over the next several visits, and you never x-ray a patient on every visit. I also like to point out that by being able to detect the misalignment by moving the joints and feeling the stuck position by hand can also detect misalignments in progress that may not appear on the x-ray and can be fixed as a measure of prevention.
As far as other signs or symptoms of a subluxation, we’re going to stick with ones immediately related to a subluxation, which also can be used to detect misalignments. Probably the one you’re most familiar with is that soreness and tenderness when I place my finger on certain areas of the spine. That’s what you feel. I feel changes in the temperature, moisture and even texture of the skin and muscles at an area of subluxation. Sometimes you can even see redness on the surface of the skin. Other times there is swelling of the tissues due to the inflammation.