X-rays And Chiropractic
An interesting thing I learned in school 25 years ago is that most bones/joints that chiropractors adjust do not show up on x-rays. Oh my gosh!! What could this possibly mean? The dentist uses x-rays to find cavities. The MD uses x-rays to look for degeneration or fracture.
The poor chiropractor can adjust degenerated joints to increase their motion and these degenerated joints tend to need more adjusting to keep them moving. You notice that this word "moving" is being used repeatedly here. What chiropractors do that is valuable is they get stuck joints moving. When the bones and its joints don't move freely, chiropractors call this "stuckness" of the joint a subluxation or subluxation complex. The complex part refers to the nerves, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels and the inflammation caused by the immune system not liking what is going on in the area of subluxation.
The reason that x-rays do not often show anything is that x-rays are a static look at bones and joints and a subluxation is a motion problem. This motion problem will create degeneration over time that can then be seen on an x-ray. Actually scientific study has shown that degeneration starts about 2 weeks after the fixation of a joint. Degeneration can be a slow or not so slow process. The chiropractic adjustment is vital to keeping joints moving and healthy. If you are feeling stiff when you try to move your body to its full range of motion anywhere then there are subluxations and to one degree or another the complex is not working to full capacity. So one of these fixed joints or subluxations and the attendant complex of dysfunctions that go along with it to one degree or another is not ideal.
One of these subluxations may not be hurting to the degree a person notices the fixation. If pushed on there is usually some tender sensation or there can be pain. If something shows up abnormal on an x-ray then you have degeneration and this is an advanced state indicating a subluxation has existed for an extended period of time. One of the beauties of unsticking a subluxation or fixed joint is you prevent degeneration or arrest further degeneration.
Chiropractors have various ways of finding a fixated/subluxated joint that is not visible on x-ray. Muscle stress testing the nervous system at the specific joint and motion palpation are probably the two most used approaches to finding a fixated joint. Ideally the fixated joint is detected before it starts to degenerate at which point the motion is returned by adjusting the fixed bone(s) to motion. While a tooth can be pulled and a replacement put in this is mostly impossible certainly in the spine, the feet or the hands. Hip and knee replacement however, is fairly common. Knee and low back and hip adjustments tend to reduce the need for replacement. In the spine a person just has to live with the degeneration. Sometimes surgery helps, sometimes not.
The moral of the story is of course get regular adjustments to minimize degeneration. Certain nutrients known to be deficient in almost all diets can also help in the reduction of joint degeneration. Both long term good joint nutrition and periodic adjustments reduce or outright eliminate joint degeneration keeping a person healthy into old age.
Dr. Mike Spearman