In the last post, I explained to you what a Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC) is and all the complex responses that your body as to it. In this post, I will elaborate on how they happen, how we find them, and what we do about them.
How do they happen?
The causes of the VSC are numerous. As I mentioned in the previous post, any physical, chemical, or emotional insult that exceeds your body’s capacity to gracefully adapt can cause this disruption. Biomechanical stressors are the easiest explain. Some will be obvious and others will take more consideration.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents/Whip-lash injuries
- Sporting Injuries
- Bad lifting mechanics
- Basically, anything that causes major physical injury. This category is not hard to miss
- Sitting all day on a computer
- Pipetting (yes, I had a grad student once with a chronic repetitive strain from pipetting)
- Holding poor posture (like always having baby on your right hip or being stuck in a car seat all day)
- Basically, any repetitive activity done in an imbalanced or excessive way.
o Activities of Normal Living & Developmental Processes
- Birth Process/Birth Trauma
- Plunking down on your butt when learning to stand and walk
- Heavy backpacks and purses
- Poor sleep position and quality
- Basically, anything that exceeds your body’s ability to wage a graceful, adaptive response
o Chemical Insults
- If you body is in an inflammatory state, it will not be able to heal and thrive properly. The internal chemical environment of your cells controls the expression of your genes (epigenetics) and the responses that your body wages on a cellular level.
- Even something as simple as dehydration has an effect on your physical body. Dehydrated soft tissue structures (muscles, ligaments, fascia) are less elastic and less resilient, making them more susceptible to injury.
o Emotional Insults
- This is not my area of expertise, but I do want to acknowledge and respect it. I can’t tell you how many times a patient’s physical body was not responding to treatment as I expected and further questioning revealed some major emotional trauma or excessive stress in their life that was affecting their ability to heal and thrive. These insults need to be addressed
- Stress, whether perceived or real, initiates a neurological and hormonal response in your system. The ties between stress and inflammation are well established.
Well that was kind of depressing. My point here is not to make you go through life fearful and watching for the opportunities of destruction. Your body has an amazing capacity for health and healing, far greater than you give it credit for. I just want you to be aware of and respect the complete nature of stimuli that your body is constantly responding and adapting to. It’s the major disruptions and the impact of the full (allostatic) load that are the big picture/take away message here.
How do we find them?
Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) are really the only healthcare professionals that are adequately trained to identify and correct a VSC. After their undergraduate degree, they go to Chiropractic College to study the human body and how to facilitate health for four years. Their education level is very similar to that of a Medical Doctor (MD), but with a different focus. We focus on how to encourage and facilitate optimal health using natural, conservative means. Your Medical Doctor is well instructed on what to do when health disruptions go too far and there is a need to intervene to keep you breathing. We focus on “thrive” and they are great at “survive”. The two can (and should) work together in an integrative model.
Ok, that was a bit of a tangent. So while we are at Chiropractic College studying our brains out (and surfing on the weekends), we learn how to detect and correct VSC. Your DC is trained to use a blend of history intake, visual observation, static palpation, motion palpation, muscle and orthopedic testing, and movement analysis to determine any disruption within the 76 joints of the spine.
What do you do about them?
That is how we find a VSC, but what do we do about it once we find it? There are many different techniques that can be used to correct a VSC and restore proper function. The treatment of choice is a Chiropractic Adjustment (also referred to as Spinal Manipulation Therapy (SMT) in the research). A chiropractic adjustment is typically a quick, specific force put into a specific joint with an intentional vector to restore proper joint movement, juxtaposition, and communication. Because I work with so many kiddos, I am also trained in many low-force adjustment techniques. A chiropractic adjustment can be very gentle and there may or may not be any audible “pop” noise associated with it.
At Valeo, we complement our chiropractic care with soft tissue therapy, kinesiology taping, exercise rehab/retraining, lifestyle counseling, and nutritional support. This is a reflection of our understanding that health is an all-encompassing, life-long journey.
We are not stacking Jenga blocks. Alignment is a dynamic, functional construct, not a static correction. Also, your back is not “out” for tea with the queen. You are not going to step into your car improperly and undo all the work you just did during your office visit. I hope that throughout this series of blogs I have helped dispel some of these common misconceptions.
The bottom line is: Doctors of Chiropractic have many tools in their tool belt to help address and correct Vertebral Subluxation Complexes. By restoring optimal juxtaposition, movement, and nervous system communication, we are able to facilitate the health of your spine and your whole person. Once we remove the roadblocks, then your body is able to adapt and respond to carry on the work from there.