Recent studies have conﬁrmed that the idea of a “bone out of place pressing on a nerve” is a far too simplistic explanation of a subluxation. Although many patients had improved digestion, breathing, immune function and sleeping, the understanding in the early days of chiropractic had little evidence to conﬁrm what was really happening. Chiropractors knew that improved nerve function was the only plausible explanation to these changes, so they hypothesized that displaced a “bone out of place” must be the culprit. Many of us in chiropractic have been, and continue to be, guilty of incorrectly using the same terminology which is confusing, and as science is showing us, inaccurate.
There are 5 components that are associated with spinal subluxation:
1. Changes in nerve function/communication
2. Increased muscle tension to protect the area
3. Abnormal movement/position of vertebrae
4. Inﬂammation/swelling resulting from tissue damage
5. Increased degeneration, scar tissue, tissue erosion
The most recent studies show that chiropractic adjustments directly affect the function of the prefrontal cortex in our brain.
The purpose of this area of the brain (behind our forehead), is to “plan, develop, and integrate resources to achieve a goal. The prefrontal cortex is an important coordinator of behavioural, neuroendocrine, and autonomic responses particularly to anticipatory stressors.” “The distinction between anticipatory and reﬂexive stress is an important one to make, because much of modern day stress is internally driven. For instance, one may become ‘stressed’ by ﬁnancial, familial, or work-place issues, leading to activation of neuroendocrine and autonomic systems.” What does all this mean? The prefrontal cortex can function more accurately when it gets better information from the body. When it functions better, our nerve system can handle, and respond to physical, mental and chemical stresses better. Its normal activity drives parasympathetic activity – the rest, digest and heal nerves. This may lead to better digestion, heart rate/pressure, immune function, sleeping and metabolism.
Here’s a great video where Dr. Neil talks more about nerve connection.