By Reggie Gold, D.C.

1. What is a vertebral subluxation?

A:  To understand what a vertebral subluxation is, you first have to understand a little about the body’s anatomy and about the nerve system.  Virtually every nerve in the body starts as part of the brain.  Millions of nerve fibers leave the base of the skull and run down inside the bones of the spine, and there thousands of them branch out at each level to go to the various parts of the body so that the brain can stay in communication with all of the organs, all of the cells, all of the body parts, and make them work as a team.  Every time you bend, twist, or turn the body has to ADJUST, move, or re-arrange the position of these vertebrae.

A vertebral subluxation is a circumstance where the body does not perfectly move these vertebrae.  The body doesn’t have the energy or force available to properly move them so some of the vertebrae/bones of the spine actually irritate the very nerves they are meant to protect.

So, a vertebral subluxation is a circumstance where the body does not have perfect control over the movement of its own vertebrae, resulting in nerve irritation and a dis-communication or dis-harmony between the brain and all parts of the body.

For you to function perfectly as a human being every single cell in the body must be in constant communication with the brain and the brain must be in the position to regulate and control all of the cells.  A vertebral subluxation interferes with this causing an imperfection, so that the various systems of the body function with less than perfection.

Obviously a vertebral subluxation interferes with your health potential, but also it interferes with every other potential of the body.  It interferes with your coordination, your speed, your stamina, your energy, your income earning capacity, how well you play sports, how well you drive a car, your sex live, your moods, your relationships with your kids.

If you have a vertebral subluxation, as long as that vertebral subluxation stays there, the body can’t run its various functions at perfection. 

2. Just exactly what conditions or diseases can a chiropractor cure?

A: Well really a chiropractor can’t cure anything.  The question should be re-phrased to say, “Exactly what conditions or diseases can be caused totally or in part by vertebral subluxation.”  And, as we said earlier a vertebral subluxation interferes with virtually every function of the body, so it can be a contributory cause of virtually any sickness or condition.  Every vertebral subluxation is extremely serious.  This is why when this was recognized over 100 years ago the profession of Chiropractic was formed for the sole purpose of addressing and bringing about the correction of these vertebral subluxations that can not only cause disease conditions, but many other malfunctions in the human body as well or imperfections of performance.

3. Does health insurance cover Chiropractic?

A:  That is a difficult question to answer because health insurance is really not health insurance.  Health insurance pays for disease treatment.  And, many chiropractors flatly refuse to treat disease.  They want to keep people free from vertebral subluxations whether they have a disease or not.

Those chiropractors who agree with the insurance companies that they will treat various conditions do in fact get reimbursed by the insurance companies or the patients get reimbursed depending on who pays.  There are many chiropractors however who offer a maintenance program and insurance programs will never pay for a maintenance program.

Insurance companies call themselves health insurance companies, but they are really disease treatment companies.  They do not pay for the maintenance of health.  They will agree that good rest and good exercise are important to health, but they don’t pay for membership in health clubs or good nutrition.  They only pay for the treatment of a disease.  So really “Health Insurance” is a misnomer.

4. What is a family maintenance program?

A:  A family maintenance program is when an entire family visits a chiropractor regularly, not for the treatment of sickness, but to maintain the integrity of the nerve system by keeping the spine flexible, keeping the body in control of the movements of its own vertebrae so the body can adjust and re-adjust the positions of those vertebrae as it needs to.

You have to understand that the majority of vertebral subluxations, while they can do very serious damage to the functioning of the body, the majority don’t produce any pain or symptoms.  So to go to a chiropractor just when you hurt is to ignore a problem until it sometimes reaches tragic proportions.  Sometimes a vertebral subluxation can be there for 10, 20, or 30 years before any symptoms show up.

A family maintenance program is this idea of checking the spine of each member of the family on a regular basis at one set fee, a greatly reduced fee, in order to prevent a lot of these problems from developing.

5. Will regular visits to the chiropractor actually help prevent certain illness?

A:  Well, help prevent, yes.  Actually prevent, no.  Any given illness could have many, many different causes.  And, if you eliminate one of those causes, you haven’t really eliminated the possibility of getting the disease.

What regular chiropractic care will do is reduce the likely hood of certain diseases rather than prevent them.  Nobody can guarantee to prevent a disease.

What Chiropractic does is eliminate from your life one major negative, vertebral subluxation.  All the other major negatives which can do damage and cause disease are still there; improper nutrition, lack of rest, lack of exercise, eating polluted foods, drinking polluted water, breathing polluted air.  All of these are negatives, which could in and of themselves cause disease.

What Chiropractic does is eliminate one major negative called vertebral subluxation.

6. Is it true that once you start going to a chiropractor you have to go forever?

A:  That is like asking if once you start eating nutritious food do you have to keep doing it forever.  No, you could eat one good meal and let your nutrition go to hell from that point on.  Intelligent people eat nutritious food all the time.  Intelligent people with Chiropractic want to keep their spines free of nerve damage all the time.

It is not going to a chiropractor that causes the need to go, everyone needs to go if they want to have a normally functioning nerve system.  So, what I recommend is that everyone keep going forever.

7. Just how safe is Chiropractic? What are the risks and dangers?

A:  Chiropractic is totally safe.  The purpose of Chiropractic is to eliminate vertebral subluxations, to keep the body as subluxation free as possible.  That is ALWAYS a positive and could not under any circumstances do harm.  Some people are obviously so decrepit, aged, or falling apart from illness that they are not good candidates for Chiropractic care and every chiropractor is trained to identify these circumstances and we have to tell those people, “Sorry I can’t help you.”  But when a chiropractor administers what results in a chiropractic adjustment, that is always safe.

Every adjustment is safe.  In fact the body adjusts itself thousands of times a day every time it moves.  The chiropractor steps in only when the body is unable to adjust itself perfectly and the chiropractor helps the body to complete that adjustment.  It is always totally safe.  The thing that is unsafe is to walk around for years with a vertebral subluxations because you have no symptoms.  All we have to do is pick up the local newspaper any day and look at the obituary column and read about people that never had a sick day in their life, they’ve never seen a chiropractor, why should they, there is nothing wrong with them.  And then one day they are walking along the street and they drop dead of a heart attack or they have an ulcer perforate they didn’t even know they had, or some other disaster occurs.  They go for a insurance check up and then they find they have cancer.  That cancer did not develop over night.

The damage that accrues in the body occurs over tens of years and that is why regular visits to the chiropractor whether you are sick or not is so important.  The thing that is risky or dangerous is walking around with vertebral subluxations year in and year out, raising children with vertebral subluxation is to me totally irresponsible.

8. Why should I pay my insurance company for health care and then have to pay the chiropractor out of my own pocket?

A:  Well in a sense we have answered this question already (see Does health insurance cover Chiropractic?).  You don’t pay insurance companies for health care.  They call it that, but it is disease treatment.  You are paying an insurance company so that they will pay for the treatment or part of the treatment for certain disease conditions.

Health care is health maintenance and insurance companies don’t pay for that, they will not pay for maintenance care.  So if you go to a chiropractor and your insurance doesn’t cover maintenance care and you want maintenance care, then you are going to have to pay for it yourself in the same way you pay for good nutrition, you pay for your own vitamins, you pay for your own exercise programs.  There are certain things you have to pay for yourself.  We live in a society where we expect the government or someone else to pay for our entire lives.  Maybe it is time we revised our thinking and our practices in that regard.

9. Why is it that some chiropractors talk a lot about nutrition, rest, exercise, etc and others don’t even mention them?

A:  Well it is a matter of personal choice.  The practice of Chiropractic is to keep you as free from vertebral subluxations as we possibly can.  However, some chiropractors are concerned with more than Chiropractic.  They give advice on a number of things including as you said nutrition, rest, exercise, etc. even though those things are not strictly a part of Chiropractic.

Chiropractic itself deals with examining the spine, locating, identifying, and bringing about the correction of vertebral subluxations.  Anything else your chiropractor does for you is added on to the heart and soul of Chiropractic.

10. When a chiropractor corrects a back or neck problem, how come it doesn’t stay corrected but seems to return periodically?

A:  There we have a problem because the chiropractor doesn’t correct a back or neck problem.

You say how come it doesn’t stay corrected?  The only thing a chiropractor can do is give back to your body the ability to adjust and re-adjust itself.  Sometimes there is a weakness in a certain area and very often when we leave the chiropractors office we go back to the lifestyle that caused the problem in the first place.  Of course it’s going to occur again.  Some people have a shape of bones that leads to vertebral subluxations that cause back problems or neck problems, and because chiropractors deal through the spine many people believe that they deal exclusively with the spine, so they think chiropractors are back doctors.  That is actually not true.  There are many problems that are taken to chiropractors and respond to chiropractic care, but it is quite possible for those problems to come back again if we go back to the lifestyle that caused the problem in the first place.

If you lift weights improperly and in so doing hurt your back.  You go to a chiropractor and he may help the body correct the problem, but a week later you lift the weight again improperly.  You may just hurt your back again.

11. After my first few adjustments I felt sore afterwards, but now I don’t. How come?

A:  Well, that is probably because vertebrae subluxations can exist for a long, long time before you go to a chiropractor.

In fact many people go to a chiropractor feeling no soreness at all, but after the adjustment the body begins to reshape its spine using muscles it has not used for years.  And, the result of that is some of the muscles ache or produce a “Charlie horse”.  It’s like painting a ceiling when you haven’t done it in years.  The next day your arms could hurt, but if you paint ceilings every day, then pretty soon you’d get use to it and it wouldn’t hurt any more.

So when you first go to a chiropractor it is quite possible that extensive changes are taking place in a short space of time and you will feel it afterwards, and then after a while you get use to it and you don’t feel it any more.

12. My spine always seems to need adjusting at the same spot every time, why?

A:  The one thing that will not change very much during your lifetime is the shape of your bones.  Children resemble their parents frequently because their bone shapes are the same.  The bones of the spine maintain their shapes throughout life and if you subluxate in a certain area because of a bone formation, then any time you have a vertebral subluxation later it will tend to be at that same location, even in the same direction, because the bone shape hasn’t changed.  In fact chiropractors find that very often that certain weak areas of a spine occur throughout a family.  So that one problem that we find in mother (or father) will show up in the kids as well because the shape of the bones are the same.

13. Does my mattress have anything to do with how well or how long I hold my adjustments?

A:  Oh it very well might.  Once a vertebral subluxation has been corrected, it stays corrected until something throws it out again.  Now I mentioned earlier weight lifting, doing the same thing, causing strain on certain areas (see question 10).  Certain jobs do the same thing, certain mattresses do the same thing, certain shoes do the same thing.  So there are many different things that have to do with how well or how poorly you hold your adjustment.

Now don’t expect your chiropractor to recommend any particular mattress, although some chiropractors might.  If you have any question about your mattress, about your shoes, or your exercise program then you can experiment for yourself.  You could try sleeping on a different mattress for a while and seeing if that helps you hold your adjustments better.  And, if it does you can buy whatever mattress works better for you, and the same it is for every other aspect of life.  If you keep doing the same thing over and over again without changing it, that obviously has a lot to do with how well or how poorly you hold your adjustments.  If you can find out for yourself what things cause you to hold adjustments and what things cause you to lose adjustments then you can regulate your whole life a lot better, not depending upon the advice of others.

Remember the vast majority of vertebral subluxations have no symtoms.  So, you cannot go off of how you are feeling.  If you go to the chiropractor and you are not as subluxated, then perhaps the change you have made to your life is helping you to hold your adjustments better.

14. My husband seems to need adjusting much less often than I do, why is that?

A:  Well that could have to do with the shape of your spine or with your lifestyle.  You know no two human beings are alike and everyone is different.  Some people get colds more often than others.  Some people get a cold and it lasts 3 days, others get a cold and it lasts 10 days.  Why is one different than another?  Why does one person have a better memory than another?  Why is one person good at some things and bad at something else?  Why is one person a faster runner than another?  The answer is, we don’t know.  Every human being is different from every other, that’s why chiropractors are trained to treat you as an individual.  So, everyone is different, we just have to live with that and except it.

15. Even though I come faithfully my back still goes “out” once and a while, how come?

A:  Well your back is going to go “out” once and a while as you put it or you are going to get subluxated as we put it depending on what you do.  If you keep going back to doing the same things, and stressing your body your body is going to subluxate again.  You know everything has limits.  Even the strength of the spine has limits and it has different limits in different areas.  So if you have a weaker area (think of it like a weak link in a chain) and you just keep on doing the same things, straining that area, of course you will have the same problem again and again.  Visits to a chiropractor are not a permanent cure for anything, they are an attempt to give back to your body control of its vertebrae.  How long that control lasts will depend upon your inherited factors (like the shape of your bones), as well as the things you do to develop muscles, the kind of work you do, and the kind of strain you put on your spine and body.  So of course you are going to have back problems once and a while if you keep doing the things that caused them.

16. What can I do to strengthen my spine? Do you think Yoga will help or some other exercise?

A:  The problem there is again that no two human beings are alike.  There is no question that Yoga will help some people by strengthening their spine or some other form of exercise will help them.  But, if I was to give you advice about Yoga it might very well cause vertebrae subluxations instead of helping correct them or strengthen the spine.  Everybody is different.  What is good for one person will be bad for another.  Nobody can give you advice about what kind of exercise is best for you.  Trial and error experimentation is the only way that you will find out.  If you think Yoga will help and you go to a Yoga master and you find that you have less subluxations when you get your spine checked, then obviously Yoga is helping.  If on the other hand you do Yoga and you thoroughly enjoy it and it doesn’t strengthen your spine stick with it any way if you enjoy it.  Yoga is not meant to prevent subluxations and neither is any other exercise.  In fact I know no way of preventing subluxation or I wouldn’t have to go to a chiropractor myself all the time.  We do these things because we like them and they are good for us in many different ways but none of them actually replaces visits to the chiropractor.  Although in some cases, you may find that with the help of Yoga or some other exercise you can hold your adjustments better and longer.

17. At what age can a child get his or her first adjustment?

A:  I have actually adjusted a child that has been 3 hours old.  The father of this child was a medical doctor.  He was present at his child’s birth and he noticed something was radically wrong.  And rather than go through the standard medical procedure And I should point out that this was a medical doctor raised and trained in Europe.  He did not have the built in prejudice of most American medical schools.  So he had no hesitation in calling me.  He was himself a member of my practice and he had known a great deal about chiropractic and knew how gentle it was and he had no problem in calling me to take care of his son.  Incidentally, I did go to the hospital to take care of the son and gave him his 1stvertebral subluxations by a chiropractor.  chiropractic adjustment at 3 hours old and he responded amazingly.  It was like turning off a light switch.  The problem ended almost instantly as we stood and watched.  So there is great danger in raising children without getting their spine checked.  If you look at a day in the life of a two year old, how many times do they batter their spine, you realize the importance of getting their spine checked over and over again by a chiropractor.  When they leave the chiropractor they go back and lead a normal kid’s life.  They bounce off the bed, they bounce off the trampoline, they dive into the sofa head first.  Please get their spine checked regularly.    Every chiropractor is fully trained in taking care of young spines as well as aged ones.  In fact if I had any hesitation in selecting people that were safe candidates for Chiropractic care, I would have much more concern for the elderly and brittle rather than the young and flexible.  So as soon as a child is born his or her spine could and should be checked for the rest of their life.

18. My sister’s kids really need to get their spines checked. How can I convince her to bring them in?

A:  This is a tricky question because I don’t know your sister.  Some people are easily convinced others need a great deal of convincing.  People seem to feel that their kids are weak and can’t stand Chiropractic care, when in fact kids have such flexible spines they are much stronger than most adult’s spines and can take Chiropractic care even easier.  And in fact if kids are raised subluxation free we cut off in advance normally lots of the damage that occurs in later life because the subluxation has been ignored.  Now how can you get your sister to bring her kids in?  Well, obviously it sounds like you have tried talking to her and giving her pamphlets to read.  If hasn’t worked then why not have her over to your house one night and invite the chiropractor to talk to her.  Put on a pot of coffee and let the chiropractor talk to your sister.  It sounds extreme but the alternative is those kids growing up never leading a full life.  If you really care about your nieces and nephews get your sister to come to your house and ask the chiropractor to come over and talk to them.  Maybe that is the only way.

19. Do you do talks about Chiropractic to clubs and organizations?

A:  Well, I certainly do and as a matter of fact many chiropractors do.  If you belong to a club or organization and would like an interesting talk on a fascinating subject ask your chiropractor.  He or she will come and the nice thing about chiropractors is they will never charge and will be happy to do it just as a public service for the community.  It’s a wonderful way for you to help other people by spreading the word about Chiropractic and at the same time helping your club or organization to have a fascinating and interesting speaker talk on a great subject.

20. What do you think about Acupuncture?

A:  That’s almost like asking a medical doctor what he or she thinks about Chiropractic.  If you really want to know about Chiropractic go to a Chiropractor and ask.  As for giving advice on Acupuncture, massage therapy, or anything else, even on appendectomies, we just don’t want to be giving advice on other professions.  I think that questions on Chiropractic should be answered by your chiropractor and questions about any other subject should not.  So, for myself, I don’t think about Acupuncture at all.  I’m sorry I can’t help you there.

21. Is it true that getting adjusted to often can cause loose joints?

A:  No, that’s an old wives tale.  Boy, I have heard that so many times in different ways.  “My great grandmother said that getting adjusted causes arthritis.  My aunt Sallie says that getting adjusted causes loose joints (whatever they are).”  That’s just absolute nonsense.  As a matter of fact the body adjusts itself thousands of times every day.  If getting adjusted too often would cause arthritis then everybody would have arthritis.  If getting adjusted too often caused loose joints, then everyone would have loose joints.  But frankly I don’t think there is such a thing as loose joints.  So, it’s just another one of those old wives tales that has no meaning at all.  You get adjusted as often as your body needs to adjust and a chiropractor is trained to determine when the body needs help bringing about that adjustment and when the body is able to do it by itself.  Have no fear about it, let the expert make the decision.

22. What’s that cracking sound I sometimes hear when I’m getting adjusted?

A:  Awww, that’s another tough question.  The answer is, nobody really knows.  There are a couple theories about it, certain gases collecting in the bursa sacs (fluid filled sacs that cushion areas of friction between bones, tendons, or skin) and those gases being released when the joint moves.  The fact is, any time the joint moves in relation to each other they are capable of making that sound.  But don’t be fooled; don’t believe that that cracking sound indicates that an adjustment has taken place.  When you “crack” your  knuckles it makes that sound, but the components of the joint go right back to where they started, no change has taken place.  It is quite possible to get that “cracking” sound in the neck or the back without an adjustment taking place and it is very possible to get an adjustment without that sound.  So the chiropractor does not depend upon that sound at all to determine whether an adjustment has taken place.  The chiropractor has methods of checking to determine if an adjustment has taken place.  We use the same method to determine if he subluxation is gone as we did to determine it was present (see How do we determine a subluxation is present and how do we know it is gone).  We exam the spine before and then after the force has been given to the body (pre-check and then a post-check).  We do this to determine if the body was able to convert the external force we gave it into an adjustment and if the body now has back control of its vertebrae.  Don’t be fooled by the sound.  It is actually meaningless and nobody is totally sure what causes it, but they think it is that movement of gasses through the membranes.

23. Why is it that no 2 chiropractors seem to do the same thing?

A:  Well of course that is not quite true.  The methods that chiropractors use are determined primarily by their training, by the school they went to, by their personal selection, their outside learning, their body shape and size.  There are just different opinions on things.  But, they are all out to do the same thing, identify vertebral subluxations and give back to the body the ability to correct that subluxation.  There are many different ways that this could be accomplished and some chiropractors stick to one way primarily and if you need another method they will refer you to another chiropractor.  Other chiropractors tend to use 2 or 3 different methods.  You select the chiropractor based upon how much confidence you have in their ability to determine the vertebral subluxation, whether you like their personality, whether you approve of the way they do their chiropractic work, but in all cases the chiropractors are out to do the same thing, correct the vertebral subluxations, and that can be accomplished by several different methods as you may have experienced.

24. Why are some medical doctors so opposed to Chiropractic?

A:  I don’t know.  Why are some Cadillac dealers so opposed to Mercedes Benz?  I think it has to do with personal jealousy, trade opposition.  There was a feeling in medicine many years ago that part of their job was to keep people away from chiropractors.  Whether that was financial or whether they seriously believe chiropractors caused problems, I don’t know.  But, we are seeing less and less of that as time goes by and many medical doctors themselves go to chiropractors.  I was disturbed to find that some medical doctors go to chiropractors and then warn their own patients not to.  That doesn’t sound too good to me and I don’t like it.  But I think that any medical doctor that gives advice on Chiropractic would be as bad as my giving advice on medicine.