Subluxation is the misalignment of adjacent spinal bones. Subluxations are the main pathology treated by chiropractors.
It's important to note that the term subluxation means something very different to medical doctors than to chiropractors. To medical doctors, a subluxation refers to a partial dislocation of a vertebra. This is a serious condition, often due to trauma, that can result in a spinal cord injury and consequent paralysis and/or death. On an X-ray, a conventional subluxation is an obvious disconnect between the vertebrae.
The chiropractic version of a subluxation is much more subtle and refers to "misaligned" vertebrae. Rather than a disconnect between the vertebrae, subluxation in this context refers to position changes in the joints and soft tissues of the spine. This "misalignment of vertebrae" is thought to lead to pain and abnormal intervertebral joint motion.
This difference between the conventional medical definition of the term and the chiropractic use of the term may cause some people to dismiss these treatments. Since the primary focus of chiropractic treatment is often treating subluxations, this can lead to the disregard of the practice altogether unless this difference in terminology is understood.
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