Chiropractic was created on the principle that everything the body needs to heal itself comes from within. This means that our bodies were gifted with an innate intelligence. It is this innate intelligence that takes care of every cell in your body. A large part of this inner system of communication is found in the parts of your brain that control your immune system. Although you are not consciously aware of this part of the brain, every day billions of impulses travel through this important part of your nervous system to constantly monitor and correct any problems in the cells of your body. As a simple example, think of the last time a minor cut you had was healed. Did you have to ‘think’ about anything to get the skin to heal, or did you just notice that after a few days the body had healed itself?
But what happens if this essential part of our nervous system is interfered with or is not properly supported? The answer is a breakdown in normal function begins. Chiropractors believe one way this problem can occur is when the nerves that carry these messages are irritated at the level of the spine where they exit. This irritation is the result of a subluxation, which is scientifically defined as a minor misalignment between joint. The theory is that a subluxation creates undue stress on the involved joints, much like a poorly aligned hinge would make it difficult to open and close a door. As this irritation continues, swelling takes place. The swelling builds up and because subluxated joints do not move well, there is no natural pumping action to help remove this swelling, so the problem persists. When the swelling reaches the point where it impedes either the circulation of the blood flow to the nerve, the nerve itself, or both, nerve transmission suffers.
The old model of this was the classic story of someone placing a foot on a hose, with the foot representing the pressure from the surrounding tissue and the hose representing a pinched nerve that cannot carry enough nerve impulses to the organs, muscles and tissues it supplies. More modern theory suggests that in actuality, the pressure in the region of the nerve may in the early stages aggravate it to send excessive nerve impulses to the body rather than a lack of impulses. Some studies have demonstrated that irritation to the nerves sets up a response of increased nerve activity, which in turn triggers a reaction in the surrounding blood vessels to contract. The decreased blood flow to the aggravated nerve exacerbates (worsens) the problem even more.
In either case of too much or not enough nerve stimulation, the important measure is the effect on balance. When the nervous system is out of balance in either direction, muscles, organs, and tissues suffer. The principle of chiropractic adjustments (spinal manipulation) is to restore this normal balance by restoring as much proper joint function in the spine as possible. This takes the pressure off the nerve and allows for repair and normal nerve activity to be reestablished. The body then receives the correct messages to help heal any reparable damage to the muscles, organs, or tissues.