Chiropractic and the Spine: Are we Really Out of Alignment?

Many patients present with common symptoms such as back pain. They often describe themselves as ‘out of alignment’ but what does this term really mean? And is being ‘out of alignment’ a reality?

The human spine is made up of twenty-four moveable bones called vertebrae. Each bone is attached to the one above and below by cartilage intervertebral discs (which act as shock absorbers). Each bone is shaped at the back to form a joint. One each side of the bone. These joints link each bone to each other and allow a small amount of movement in each vertebra. Turn your head to the side to look at someone, and even the joints in the lower part of the spine will move.

These joints of the spine contribute to the flexibility of our body. We are designed to be symmetrical and each half of the brain controls movement in the opposite side of the body. So do the joints of the spine ‘come out of alignment’? And what’s more, does chiropractic treatment address these problems?

The literature and scientific research suggests that humans do suffer from back pain symptoms arising from the delicate joints of the spine

Postural abnormalities, trips, falls, accidents – even stress affects spinal joint position. If a joint is out of alignment, the feedback loop of nerve signals becomes inappropriate. Muscle imbalance ensues, and the ability of the brain to finely control back muscles and posture becomes poor. Increased mechanical stress on the joints of the spine lead to tissue damage. You will recognise tissue damage as pain. Pain therefore, is the end stage of a problem, but it is the one thing that makes us recognise there is a problem with our backs.

Unbalanced tyres cause abnormal wear and tear on tyres - same for the spine.

Unbalanced tyres cause abnormal wear and tear on tyres – same for the spine. Unbalanced loads on spinal joints create wear and tear – we name this osteoarthritis!

Just as in a car tyre that is not correctly balanced, the forces cause ‘wear and tear’ on one side. The same can be said for the spine. We just name it osteoarthritis.