Subluxation — I don’t like saying the word.

It is never spoken in my offices unless a patient specifically asks about it because, in my mind, it isn’t a real thing.

A true subluxation is a medical emergency. Luxation means dislocation of a joint. Subluxation means a near dislocation of a joint or organ.

A chiropractic subluxation is this thing that cannot be detected by any means other than a chiropractor “sensing” it within the spine. The subluxation is a chiropractor’s version of the silent killer. A vaguely-described pathology that must be kept at bay through regular adjustments, subluxations are sold wholesale to patients by non-evidence based chiropractors.

The beauty of subluxations are:

• They can’t be detected by any means of imaging.

• You don’t even know you have them until your chiropractor finds them.

• They’re reputed to cause harm to your body, organs and immune system because they disrupt the flow of nervous system impulses (pro-tip: if a chiropractor calls it the “nerve” system, run).

• They are caused by, get this; stress, bad posture, poor eating habits and many other activities of modern life.

• If you don’t have your subluxations cleared, they “disrupt the flow of your nervous system and decrease your potential as a human”, whatever that means to you.

So you have to see your chiropractor who is the only one who can detect and correct something that you don’t know you have – that could potentially kill you – or at the very least decrease your potential as a human being.

If that sounds fishy, that’s because it is.

Evidence based chiropractors acknowledge the subluxation theory as a distant part of our history that has never, ever, been proven. Chiropractic and the subluxation theory were founded in 1895 by a self proclaimed magnetic healer named D.D. Palmer. These facts often draw criticism by those who blindly oppose the profession but must be considered in the context of that time.

In the same period, it was commonplace to use leeches in medicine. Heroin was prescribed as a safe means of discontinuing morphine. Cocaine was included in many household and even food items — it’s easy to look back and laugh.

We have all come a long way since then and while there are still chiropractors who believe in the subluxation theory, they are the vocal minority.

Nowadays, doctors of all specialties realize that healthcare is best approached from a team-type perspective.  We all speak the same language in order to effectively communicate with each other and benefit our patients. Tendonitis, segmental dysfunction, herniation, radiculopathy; from MD’s to DO’s to PSP’s, we all know specifically what we are talking about. I guarantee you that if you ask your primary care doctor about a subluxation, he will either not know about it, or laugh.

Adjustments are good for keeping joints healthy, moving well and addressing a problem — when one is actually present. If you like being adjusted, more power to you; I do as well. But please, make sure you are doing it for those reasons and not because you are being misled by an unethical chiropractor.

-Dr. Timothy Kennedy

Dr. Kennedy is a Chiropractor & University of Pittsburgh certified Primary Spine Practitioner.

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