What Is Subluxation of the Spine?

Subluxation is a common term in the chiropractic field. But if you’re not a practitioner, you might not know what it is or how it affects you. Even worse, the lack of information can make a diagnosis seem unfamiliar and scary. But what is subluxation of the spine?

We’re here to shed some light on this topic. For starters, know that a subluxation refers to a joint that is either misaligned or not working as it should. The condition can occur in joints throughout the body, whether in the shoulders, wrists, knees, or feet.

However, this guide will focus on one of the most common types — spinal subluxations. Read on to learn about the condition and its causes, symptoms, and more.

What Exactly Is Spinal Subluxation?

subluxation of the spine

A spinal subluxation means that a vertebra in the spine has become misaligned. When one of these small bones falls out of its normal position, it can put pressure on the surrounding nerve roots.

This pressure interferes with the ability of the body and brain to send nerve signals back and forth to each other. As a result, patients experience imbalances that can impact their everyday lives—more on the symptoms later.

For now, let’s take a look at the causes of spine subluxation.

What Causes Spinal Subluxation?

Our bodies possess a natural resistance to keep our muscles, tendons, and ligaments aligned. So, for a patient to experience a subluxation spine, their backbone must encounter a strong enough force to overcome this natural resistance.

While there are many possible causes of subluxation of the spine, we can group them into three main categories. Here’s a closer look at each:

Related: What Happens To The Spine During Chiropractic Adjustment

Physical Causes

If the backbone endures constant trauma, a patient may experience subluxated vertebrae. For instance, let’s say you always carry a heavy backpack or slouch in your chair every day. The repeated pressure can force your spine out of its natural alignment.

Subluxated vertebrae stemming from physical causes are most likely to occur over a long period. However, the condition can also onset suddenly because of a traumatic event, like a car accident. In some patients, whiplash is enough to trigger muscle spasms and tightness that leads to misalignment.

Chemical Causes

As we mentioned earlier, our bodies rely on natural resistance to keep the spine aligned. Some people refer to this resistance as “muscle tone.”

Strong muscle tone is necessary to prevent lumbar subluxation symptoms. Of course, you can do exercises to strengthen your muscles. However, their strength heavily relies on your natural body chemistry.

That’s why it’s so important to consume lots of calcium. If you don’t get enough of this crucial mineral, you may experience spasms that can weaken your muscles.

Common chemical causes of a subluxation of the spine include:

  • Lacking sufficient calcium levels
  • Taking prescription drugs
  • Eating lots of processed foods
  • Smoking

Emotional Causes

It’s harder to measure their impact, but your emotions can significantly influence your physical health. And it’s no different when it comes to subluxations.

Spine misalignment is often the result of stress. When you are constantly anxious, your muscles tighten up and become fatigued. As a result, they won’t have the strength they need to keep your vertebrae from shifting out of place.

The stress can come from all types of situations, whether from career pressure or issues in your personal relationships. Whatever the case may be, you can practice calming exercises to help prevent subluxations spine.

Spinal Subluxation Effects

Doctor showing spine

It’s not enough to know what is subluxation — you should be aware of the effects that often come with the condition. Here’s a look at what your body may experience:

Muscle Atrophy

Muscle atrophy can stem from traumatic injuries, old age, certain diseases, and many other factors. Whatever the cause, it weakens your muscles and prevents them from keeping your spine in place.

In the case of muscle atrophy, it can be a two-way street. The condition might lead to lumbar subluxation symptoms, and once you develop a subluxation spine, it will only make your muscle atrophy worse.


Another reason your spine may continue to shift is edema. This condition occurs when damaged blood vessels cause fluid to pool around your spinal tissues. Patients may present various symptoms, including a swollen abdomen, puffy hands and feet, and shiny skin.


Joint dysfunction can cause pockets of congestion to develop around your spine. These pockets allow toxins to build up and irritate the nerve endings.

Tissue Rigidity

As subluxation of the spine progresses, patients tend to experience tissue rigidity. This condition impacts your tendons and ligaments, often resulting in pain.

Local Ischemia

When muscle spasms restrict blood flow, you may experience local ischemia. It’s a type of pain that causes your muscles to feel very tender. Patients report that even a gentle touch can be super uncomfortable.

Minute Hemorrhages

A minute hemorrhage is another condition that stems from restricted blood flow. However, it can also occur when there are small amounts of bleeding inside of blood vessels.


When you experience recurring back problems, your body tends to produce lots of scar tissue. This tissue appears on your muscles and between the vertebrae. The scar tissue eventually starts to replace your muscle tissue, leading to fibrosis. Symptoms may include numbness, muscle weakness, etc.


When a spinal subluxation interrupts normal blood flow, you may develop hyperemia. Patients will experience blockages that cause blood to pool. Excessive blood may lead to swelling in the form of warm, red lumps in different parts of the body.

Other Symptoms

Below, we list other common symptoms of subluxation of the spine.

  • Pain in the lower back, neck, legs, feet, and sciatic nerve
  • Numbness in the hands and feet
  • Swelling
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Asthma
  • Low energy
  • Insomnia
  • TMJ
  • Digestive issues
  • Fertility problems
  • Impaired immune system

Not every patient will experience all of these symptoms to the same degree. Patients tend to have a unique presentation of symptoms based on the severity of their spine subluxation.

Chiropractic Can Be a Solution

If you are experiencing lumbar subluxation symptoms, you should seek help ASAP. Early intervention can make treatment much more manageable and ensure you get the help you need.

Your best bet is to visit a subluxation chiropractic office like Sunrise Chiropractic. For years, our practitioners have helped patients just like you overcome their symptoms and live more comfortable lives. We will analyze your case through our personalized approach and come up with the perfect course of treatment.

Ready to feel like your best self? Contact our team today!

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