Philadelphia Chiropractor | Philadelphia chiropractic care | PA | What is a Subluxation

Wissahickon Chiropractic

610 Barnes Street
Philadelphia, PA

(215) 483-3200

Dr. Anthony P. Galzarano

What is a Subluxation AKA the Vertebral Subluxation Complex?


The original theory of the "Vertebral Subluxation" put forth by the original chiropractor, D.D. Palmer, who founded the profession in 1895, was that a vertebra moves out of place and compresses or irritates the nerve root which caused the organ, gland, muscle, etc. innervated by that nerve to lose normal function.  D.D. Palmer believed that he had discovered a principle which, if properly applied, could eliminate the underlying cause of all illness.

Over the years, most people have come to associate chiropractic care with the relief of problems like back or neck pain, headaches or sciatica. Although chiropractic adjustments are very effective in relieving these conditions, that is only part of the story, actually the least important part.  Modern research demonstrates that "nociceptors", the nerve endings that send the signals that the higher brain interprets as pain have a threshold, below which they do not fire.  

In other words, there has to be enough pressure or inflammatory chemicals around the nociceptor to cause it to fire. If there is not, although the tissues are not normal, they are not painful.  That allows the "Subluxation Complex" to proceed unnoticed.  The ligaments that hold the vertebrae together will shorten. The muscles that move them will tighten.  Because of this the joints of the vertebrae won't move as well as they should, causing the cartilage of the disc between the two vertebrae to start to break down (arthritic degeneration).

That is because the disc is totally dependent upon the movement of the joints to pump fresh, nutrient and oxygen rich blood from the marrow of the vertebrae to the living cells of the disc.  If the joints at the back of the vertebrae do not move freely, the disc does not get fed or rid of its metabolic waste.  The breakdown causes inflammatory chemicals to stimulate the nociceptors to fire.  Many of these impulses do not get to the part of the brain that registers pain, but affect the part of the nervous and glandular systems that are involved with stress.  Over time, this can cause impaired immune function, poor digestion, fatigue, and other effects of the exhaustion stage of stress.  

It also causes tight spinal muscles which exacerbate the existing condition and cause a downward spiraling of health along with back and neck pain and the other painful conditions for which people visit chiropractors, including pinching of nerve roots (e.g. sciatica).  So actually, the pain that most people go to the chiropractor for is the last part of the problem to occur and the first to go away.

Vertebral Subluxations cause:

  1. Pain 
  2. A stress reaction in the body that can lead to poor health
  3. Arthritic degeneration
  4. Pinched nerves


Only chiropractic care addresses and corrects Vertebral Subluxations AKA the Vertebral Subluxation Complex.

Philadelphia Chiropractor | What is a Subluxation. Dr. Anthony Galzarano is a Philadelphia Chiropractor.