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What is a Subluxation? 

 April 17, 2012

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Mechanicsville, Virginia – Stover Chiropractic, P.C., and all of chiropractic in general is concerned with the preservation and restoration of health, and focuses particular attention on the subluxation.

A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health. (from the ACC guidelines – my emphasis added)

A subluxation is evaluated, diagnosed, and managed through the use of chiropractic procedures based on the best available rational and empirical evidence.

There is a friendly debate in the profession about how serious subluxations are, related to where in the spine they are found.  It is my understanding, based on research and experience, a subluxation found at C1 (the atlas vertebrae), which is found at the top of the neck just below the skull, is the most serious.  In other words, it is primary.  All other misalignments in the spine are secondary subluxations.  That is to say, they are compensations of the spine trying to adapt to the Atlas subluxation.

If your pain is sciatica, for example, is caused by a lumbar subluxation that is irritating the sciatic nerve, it will help to correct that subluxation.  However, if you have a C1 subluxation, (which you likely will, unless the sciatica started as a direct result of an injury to the lumbar spine within the past few days) it will not help to only correct the lumbar problem while leaving the C1 misalignment.  If the C1 subluxation stays there the other subluxations, the secondary subluxations, will quickly come back.

For that reason I have specialized in an upper cervical chiropractic technique called Orthospinology.  Orthospinology is based on the original work of John F. Grostic D.C. that began in 1939 (and was called the Grostic Technique for decades), Orthospinology has been practiced by a select group of chiropractors since 1977.

This drawing depicts how an upper cervical misalignment of C1 (Atlas) actually puts tension on the entire spinal cord.

This next image is a good visual representation of a secondary subluxation found below C1 in the lumbar spine.  Notice the misaligned vertebrae and the nerve roots.  You can imagine if a situation like this occured it would have to cause health problems.

 In summary, chiropractic is beautifully simple.  Though it may seem odd if this is your first exposure, please consider the logic.  Chiropractors are trying to restore neural function which is reduced from subluxations (see above).  The correction of subluxations allows your body to heal from the inside out (because there is no interference to the nervous system function) without the use of drugs or surgery.  Beautiful right?  Please give us a call if you have further questions.  804-559-1100

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.


Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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