(Health Secrets) “Find the subluxation, accept it where you find it, correct it and leave it alone.” These simple words from the late Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead, considered by many to be the father of modern chiropractic, describe with succinct clarity what this often misunderstood profession entails. Much more than just a quick back-“cracking” technique to alleviate acute muscle tension or joint pain, corrective chiropractic covers the full spectrum of human health by addressing many diseases at their root cause: spinal misalignment and associated nerve obstruction.
But this probably wouldn’t have been the case had Dr. Gonstead not pioneered a method so comprehensive and bio-mechanically sound that chiropractic is now recognized around the world as a premier example of effective, science-based medicine. Today, the Gonstead method is practiced by tens of thousands of licensed chiropractors, and for good reason–suffering patients are experiencing true healing at the hands of experienced, Gonstead-trained chiropractic doctors.
History of chiropractic
Dr. Daniel David Palmer, said to be the original founder of what would later evolve into the chiropractic profession we know today, gave his first spinal adjustment back in 1895 to a janitor who had gone deaf after feeling something “give” in his back. The history books explain how Dr. Palmer discovered the man’s misplaced vertebra; crudely, but as best as he could, moved it back into place; and voila–the janitor’s hearing improved.
It was from this starting point that modern chiropractic was birthed, with Dr. Palmer’s early forging of the profession giving way to Dr. Gonstead’s more advanced protocols focusing on the pelvic bones, which are the foundation or “seat” of the spine. However, both men recognized the same underlying problems as stemming from spinal misalignment: if the nerves that surround and intertwine spinal vertebra are impinged, health problems will eventually ensue.
“D.D. (Palmer) reasoned that the body had an ample supply of natural healing power transmitted through the nervous system,” reads the Palmer College of Chiropractic’s history of the chiropractic profession. “If a single organ was sick, it must not be receiving its normal nerve supply.”
What is a subluxation?
It is from this basic premise that the idea of a subluxation was formed. A subluxation results when a vertebra in the spine comes out of alignment, putting undue pressure on surrounding nerves. Depending upon where the subluxation occurs along the spinal column, this can manifest in a variety of ways, affecting virtually every organ and system in the body.
A subluxation in the sacral portion of the spine, which houses the pelvis, can inhibit the proper function of the prostate gland and lower legs, for instance. A subluxation in the cervical portion of the spine just below the cranium can damage neck muscles and circulation. This chart from Back Talk Systems, Inc. illustrates this in further detail.
A properly aligned back with no subluxations will accommodate healthy spatial segments between vertebra so that the full matrix of nerve fibers can perform as it should, allowing the body to function at its best. When a subluxation is present, however, individual nerve fibers can become pinched or twisted, and the spinal vertebra themselves can wear down over time and/or develop bone spurs. And if left unchecked for many years, this process could result in a worst-case scenario: permanent spinal fusion.
“You can think of individual spinal discs like a rubber band ball,” says Dr. Kevin Lewis, a seasoned chiropractor from Greenville, South Carolina, whose AlignLife practice utilizes the Gonstead method. “You’ve got all these fibers going in different directions, and at the center of that rubber band ball is a compressed ball bearing.”
“That ball bearing is made out of a mucopolysaccharide gel, which serves as the nucleus pulposus, or center, of the disc. The spinal vertebra sit on top of each other, and they pivot on top of that mucopolysaccharide gel. During a subluxation, some of these annular fibers, or the outer rings of the vertebra, tear, causing a disc to shift out of position and tilt. But with Gonstead chiropractic adjustments, the nucleus is shifted back into the middle and into place with repetition and time, allowing the annular fibers to heal from their tearing.”
The process of subluxation degeneration is visualized in the following example diagram, which depicts a normal, healthy spine becoming progressively more misaligned and damaged over time as a result of unaddressed subluxations. When a spine with subluxations isn’t adjusted through corrective chiropractic see what happens here (from Barton Chiropractic).
Many government health systems, insurance programs don’t cover corrective chiropractic
Much like how bacterial decay harms tooth enamel and eventually forms a cavity, spinal subluxations, if left unchecked, can lead to disc decay, the formation of bone spurs, and eventually vertebral fusion, a form of spinal damage that’s permanent apart from expensive surgery. But this damaging process can be stopped and even reversed with the proper corrective chiropractic care.
Unlike acute chiropractic care, which involves short-term, quick-fix, get-rid-of-the-pain-fast adjustments that provide little in the way of lasting benefits, corrective chiropractic care is lifetime wellness care, meaning it gets to the root of the problem and actually fixes it. It’s the difference between adding a few props to a crumbling building with bad foundation just to keep it standing for a little bit longer, and actually fixing the bad foundation to provide many more years of solid structural integrity.
Unfortunately for most folks living in the developed world, corrective chiropractic care isn’t generally recognized as a covered medical treatment. Some insurance companies will only provide coverage for acute chiropractic care within a certain limit, but most won’t provide coverage for true corrective care, which often requires three months, six months, or even longer to complete.
Even in countries like Canada and France where single-payer health care systems are in place, coverage for chiropractic care is exceptionally limited. Most people in need of corrective chiropractic care quickly learn that their government programs and/or insurance companies don’t have their backs–literally–when it comes to fixing spinal subluxations and nervous system damage the natural way.
Corrective chiropractic is science-based medicine
This isn’t because chiropractic doesn’t hold scientific weight, either. It most definitely does, and there’s plenty of science to prove it. Consider the following scientific studies that demonstrate the clinical efficacy of proper spinal adjustments in alleviating subluxations and their associated health conditions:
*In 2007, researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center evaluated how chiropractic might help patients suffering from high blood pressure . A team of chiropractic specialists from the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association looked at 50 individuals with a misaligned Atlas vertebra, which is located in the upper neck.
Publishing their results in the Journal of Human Hypertension, the team determined that a precise, one-time alignment of the C-1 vertebra helped lower blood pressure just as well as two of the leading anti-hypertensive pharmaceuticals currently on the market. This single adjustment provided blood pressure benefits that lasted for more than three weeks, Imagine what it could do over the course of a lifetime!
*A similar study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine in 2013 found that African-American patients who underwent a 23-visit corrective chiropractic course experienced significant reductions in their blood pressure readings . After adjusting for outliers like obesity, individuals with pre-hypertension (systolic and diastolic readings of 120-139/80-89) and hypertension (140-159/90-99) saw “statistically significant” decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings.
*A case report that appeared in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice looked at how chiropractic care can mitigate chronic migraine headaches . A 24-year-old pregnant woman who had tried nearly everything conventional medicine had to offer her as a solution, including osteopathy, physical therapy, massage and drug-based medications, was finally administered spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) after suffering through 12 gruesome years of pain. She reported drastic symptom improvement that allowed her to completely get off her medications.
*Another study published one year prior in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association demonstrated benefits from the use of chiropractic in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD . After just four visits, all of the symptoms present in a three-month-old baby girl who was suffering from the disease saw notable improvements through chiropractic. And after just three months of corrective care, the child’s GERD symptoms completely vanished.
*More recently, a paper that appeared in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed just how quickly and effectively chiropractic can mitigate lower back and pelvic conditions. A 36-year-old man who had been suffering from low back pain, right leg pain, and testicular pain, all of which had been present for nearly five years, experienced dramatic changes after just two months of treatment with a chiropractic technique known as Cox Technic, or flexion-distraction, on the lumbar region of his spine.
“After 4 weeks, the patient’s low-back pain was decreased and his leg pain was gone,” the study explains . “The testicular pain was improved after the first treatment and gone after 3 weeks of care. The patient was followed up by telephone at 3 and 6 months after discharge to find out if the testicle pain had returned, which it had not.”
Five keys to lasting health include proper nervous system function, which is why we have chiropractic
These are just a few examples among many of how corrective chiropractic care is helping people’s bodies to heal themselves from the inside out. This is, after all, how true chiropractic works–when a chiropractor brings a patient’s spine back into normalcy, that patient’s body is able to take care of the rest, alleviating a wide range of health conditions that stem from improper spinal alignment and subluxations.
More precisely, chiropractic care brings a person’s central nervous system back into its optimal functioning range, which is one of the five keys to lasting health. The other four keys include getting proper sleep and rest; eating the right foods; exercising regularly, and maintaining a positive attitude. These four are the responsibility of the individual, but the nervous system is the chiropractor’s specialty.
“In the end, the goal of the chiropractor is to make sure the nervous system functions so the body heals from the inside out,” adds Dr. Lewis of AlignLife. “If there’s pressure on the nerve, it changes the basic physiology of the nerve, which ultimately changes the function of the body.”
A 1975 study out of the University of Colorado found that just 8-10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) of pressure on a nerve–about the weight of a dime!–results in up to a 60 percent reduction in the action potential of that nerve . An even lesser amount of pressure, 5 mm Hg, was shown in the same study to directly interfere with the supply of nutrition to a nerve’s root.
“A pressure of only 10 mm Hg produced a significant conduction block, the potential falling to 60% of its initial value in 15 minutes, and to half of its initial value in 30 minutes,” the study reported. “After such a small compressive force is removed, nearly complete recovery occurs in 15 to 30 minutes.”
You can probably imagine the profound health effects of such pressure depending on the nerve or nerves obstructed, and even more so the importance of removing this pressure. Such pressure obviously inhibits the function of a nerve, leaving it deficient and unable to perform as intended.
“From a big picture perspective, all diseases are caused by only two things: deficiency and toxicity,” says Dr. Lewis. “A deficiency from a subluxation standpoint would be deficiency in nerve supply and nerve function, just like one can have a deficiency in proper nutrition, a deficiency in sleep and rest, a deficiency in proper exercise, or a deficiency in having a positive mental attitude.”
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