The term subluxation is often misunderstood and not always accepted due to the lack of knowledge in the field of applied physiology (not just physiology by the book) and the fact that school medicine does not regard the existing studies as valid and therefore is not regarding it as important enough when searching for causes or co-factors of pain and other health conditions.
For people who are not medically trained or have had done studies in anatomy and physiology the explanations given are often very difficult to understand and even for professionals it seems that their understanding of the science of subluxations varies a lot and that there is not one commonly used explanation (by the book) but a whole range of different views depending on the practical experience of the person and the ability to understand this quite complex mechanics.
Evidence based medicine should be regarded as important but science is not always as scientific as it appears and anecdotal evidence (patients reports and personal clinical studies) should be also taken into account when a holistic picture wants to be achieved.
The following explanations represent a mix of different evidence and are still a hypothesis and an attempt to enlighten medical professionals and non medical people alike about the complex mechanisms in the science of subluxations.
A subluxation of a joint is a very small misalignment of the joint so basically the different joint surfaces are not in proper congruence to each other. The joint is blocked in this position and does not find its way back to the natural position by itself.
This blockage is not like the blockage of an old drawer that does not easily slide back it is a blockage due to the uneven muscular tension.
The human structural system is a flexible functional unit of bones, ligaments, muscles and other tissue and all are depending on each other therefore it must not be viewed from a single angle but from all sides.
Different areas have different jobs to do and some have multiple tasks to fulfill for example our muscles. The main job of our muscles is to be the engine in the system by moving the joints within the natural movement range of the joint that is determined by the shape of the bones and the structure of the ligaments. The second job of the muscles is to add to the stability of the structure and to keep the joint together. If we hang ourselves onto a bar with the hands our body does not lengthen like a rubber band with weight on it would do because the system recognizes the pulling forces downwards and the muscles are instructed to contract in order to avoid that the bones are pulled apart.
When the forces onto our body become too strong and are above the normal level pain sets in to warn us of a possible danger and unconsciously gets ready to protect the structure with reflexes that lets the muscles contract. The two important systems that do that are the proprioceptive system, our position receptors and the nociceptive system, our pain receptors.
If a movement of a joint does not cause pain, a situation that is normally the case, the joint may become subluxated if the movement lies outside the natural movement range of the joint, either due to unfavourable movement habits or outside forces, and the muscles assume that position as normal and therefore keeps it there.
In most cases the joint re-aligns itself shortly after if the natural re-alignment mechanism which depends on gravity (bodyweight), shape of the bones and the ligaments together with movement can function the way it should which again depends on the alignment situation in the key stones of our structure namely the pelvic girdle and the skull-atlas-axis area.
If this core alignment is too compromised then muscles may keep joints out of alignment simply because they react naturally in order to re-balance the position of skull and pelvis.
Often this situation gets not corrected naturally anymore and the structure starts to rebuild on a cellular level which means that the muscles gets shorter or longer depending on the positions of the joint and eventually is blocking the joint in that subluxated position.
In this case the subluxation leads to muscle imbalances and tension.
However there are other factors that can cause a joint misalignment which starts with a muscle tension first. In these cases the muscle tension leads to the subluxation and again because the core alignment is not in balance can become a chronic subluxation with changes on a cellular level.
Muscle tension and especially uneven muscle tension can be caused by many stress-factors that include structural, chemical, electromagnetic, genetic, psychological and spiritual stress.
If the muscle tension has not let to a change on the cellular level then a self re-alignment of the subluxation is still possible however an outside influence in form of a therapeutic intervention is often needed to start that process.
This can be achieved by re-balancing the structural alignment and keeping it in alignment long enough for the body to readjust down to the cellular level of the muscles or by removing the tension in the muscles together with the proper stretching and movements so the self re-alignment mechanisms can do their job correctly.
Of course a combination of both may be optimal solution and for the long term success stress factors should be avoided or if necessary changed.
Lifestyle, nutrition, a strong muscular system and a balanced attitude are important factors as well.
Conclusion: Subluxations are not to be seen as unavoidable diseases but as natural reactions of our body in order to compensate for stress-factors on a multiple level.
A change towards a re-balancing is often possible by reversing the whole process that led to the subluxation. This however may sometimes require outside help and in any case self therapy and discipline based on an individual assessment of all factors that should be followed by a tailormade approach towards a better balance following natural laws of physics, physiology and anatomy in combination with non-physical aspects.
Dr Thomas Zudrell
Master instructor of the DMAA