The design of the human body ranks at the top of the list when miracles are discussed. Looking to the earliest phase of development, the nervous system becomes the first to system to develop from the undifferentiated cells. From there, it immediately begins its roll of management, organizing the other bodily systems as they are created.
From the onset, protecting the nerve system becomes a primary goal. The most sensitive part, the brain, is housed in a ridged bony shell and protected by suspensory ligaments and fluid. The main communication pipeline, the spinal cord, is protected by successive bony shells, the vertebrae. Branches off the spinal cord are sheathed in a fibrous, fatty liner called the myelin sheath.
All so that nerve signals can be delivered and received to every tissue of the body to make the body work.
The complexity of the discussion increases, because this body wants to stand up and move. Movement in the structure challenges the goal of protecting the nerves. Solid structures can be made ridged. Moveable structures are subject to combinations of weight, momentum, impact, control, and gravity, while still needing to be protective.
The body manages this competition between goals by having developed bony structures called vertebrae to carry the weight of gravity. Separated by a pad called the disc, and with a bony arch to house the spinal cord, it then uses curves in the spine to act as flexible springs to dissipate the shock of energy it receives. The curves flex, with the muscles using the nerve pathways to detect the motion and reflexively catch the energy.
Nice system but sensitive to impacts and stresses that can repositioned the vertebrae on its platform. The change in position and motion that entail starts a cycle of joint, nerve and soft tissue damage that has a wide range of negative effects. Ultimately these effects lead to more rapid deterioration of the joint (known as arthritis), scarring and calcification of soft tissues, and impaired function of the nerve transmission at the critical branching point from the main spinal cord pipeline.
Chiropractors call this damaging event Functional Subluxation of the vertebrae. The terminology recognizes there is not only a structural misalignment, but also damaging functional changes to the motion of the joint, the flexing of the curves, and the surrounding nerves and soft tissues. The key to management is early intervention to avoid the more serious tissue changes, corrective adjustment to restore better motion to the involved segment, and supportive exercise and lifestyle activities to re-educate motion and proper patterns of nerve transmission.
Ignore the problem, and it will deteriorate over time, progressively damaging joints, nerves and muscles to the point of failure. Support the better function of the spine and the associated structures will last longer and work better. Better function is the story of the better quality of life that Chiropractic has delivered for over a century, and is the basis behind recommendations for care, supportive exercises, and a lifestyle that protects spinal curves and alignment.