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What is Subluxation and How Is It Fixed?

Subluxation is a term frequently associated with chiropractic care and spinal health. It refers to the partial dislocation of a joint, often within the spine, causing various health issues. Denver Integrated Spine Center – Denver Chiropractors often see subluxation in patients and utilize chiropractic treatment to reduce pain and impacts of these partial dislocations. 

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the concept of subluxation, explore its causes, and discuss the methods and techniques used to correct and alleviate this condition.

What is Subluxation?

Defining Subluxation

Subluxation, in the context of chiropractic care, is defined as a partial or incomplete dislocation of a joint, particularly within the spinal column. This misalignment can disrupt the normal range of motion and nerve function, leading to a wide array of health problems. 

While subluxations are most commonly associated with the spine, as more than 200,000 people live with spinal injuries currently, they can occur in other joints throughout the body.

The Impact of Subluxation

Subluxations can exert a significant influence on one’s overall well-being. When a joint is partially dislocated, it can impinge on nearby nerves, leading to pain, discomfort, and a host of related symptoms. The effects of subluxation are not limited to physical discomfort; they can also impact mental and emotional health, making it crucial to address these issues promptly and effectively.

Causes of Subluxation

Mechanical Causes

  1. Trauma: Accidents, falls, and injuries can result in subluxations. Sudden impact or force can cause joints to shift from their proper alignment.
  2. Repetitive Motion: Repetitive movements, such as poor posture or occupational activities, can gradually lead to joint misalignment.
  3. Degeneration: As we age, our joints may naturally deteriorate, leading to subluxations. This is often seen in conditions like osteoarthritis.

Non-Mechanical Causes

  1. Inflammation: Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint swelling and misalignment.
  2. Muscle Imbalance: Weak or imbalanced muscles may fail to adequately support the joints, leading to subluxation.
  3. Nutritional Deficiencies: Poor nutrition can weaken bones and joints, making them more susceptible to subluxations.
  4. Emotional Stress: Mental stress and tension can manifest physically, affecting posture and muscle tension.

Identifying Subluxation


Recognizing the signs of subluxation is crucial for seeking timely treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain: Localized or radiating pain from the affected joint.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty moving the joint.
  • Numbness and Tingling: Often due to nerve compression.
  • Muscle Weakness: A weakened or fatigued feeling in the surrounding muscles.
  • Headaches: Subluxations in the neck can trigger headaches.


Chiropractors and healthcare professionals can diagnose subluxation through various methods, including:

  • Physical Examination: Assessing range of motion, muscle strength, and pain levels.
  • X-rays: Imaging can reveal joint misalignment.
  • MRI or CT Scans: These provide detailed images of joint structures and any damage.

Treating Subluxation

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors are specialists in treating subluxations and are often the first line of defense against this condition. They use various techniques, including:

  • Spinal Adjustment: Manual manipulation of the spine to realign misaligned joints.
  • Instrument-Assisted Adjustments: Some chiropractors use instruments to perform adjustments.
  • Flexion-Distraction Technique: A gentle, non-invasive method for treating spinal issues.
  • Drop-Table Technique: A specialized table that assists in spinal adjustments.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists can also play a crucial role in subluxation management. They focus on:

  • Strengthening Exercises: To improve muscle support around affected joints.
  • Range of Motion Exercises: To enhance flexibility and joint function.
  • Posture Training: Correcting poor posture that contributes to subluxations.


In some cases, pain management medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may be prescribed to alleviate discomfort associated with subluxation. However, this is typically a temporary solution and not a long-term fix.


Surgical intervention is usually considered a last resort for subluxation treatment. It may be necessary in cases where other methods have failed, or when there is severe joint damage that cannot be resolved through conservative means.

Lifestyle Modifications

Preventing subluxations and supporting the healing process involves making certain lifestyle changes:

  • Ergonomics: Ensuring proper ergonomics at work and home to reduce the risk of subluxations.
  • Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can help maintain joint health.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can improve joint strength and flexibility.
  • Stress Management: Reducing emotional stress can minimize muscle tension.

Alternative Therapies

Some individuals find relief from subluxation through alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage therapy, or yoga. These methods may complement traditional treatments and enhance overall well-being.

Complications and Risk Factors

Subluxation, if left untreated, can lead to several complications, including:

  • Chronic Pain: Untreated subluxations may result in long-term pain and discomfort.
  • Nerve Damage: Prolonged nerve compression can lead to permanent damage.
  • Reduced Mobility: Untreated subluxations can limit joint mobility and function.
  • Degenerative Changes: Continued subluxations can accelerate joint degeneration.

Risk factors for subluxation include a history of joint injuries, poor posture, occupational risks, and underlying health conditions that affect joint health.

Prevention of Subluxation

Preventing subluxation is often more effective than treating it. Here are some key prevention strategies:

  • Maintain Proper Posture: Ensure good posture while sitting, standing, and lifting objects.
  • Ergonomic Workspaces: Adjust workstations to support good posture and reduce the risk of subluxation.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in exercises that promote joint health and flexibility.
  • Nutrition: Consume a balanced diet with adequate nutrients for bone and joint health.
  • Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction techniques to prevent emotional tension from manifesting physically.
  • Regular Chiropractic Check-ups: Routine visits to a chiropractor can help identify and address subluxations before they become severe.

Final Thoughts 

Subluxation, though often associated with spinal issues, can affect various joints throughout the body. Its impact on overall health makes early recognition and treatment essential. Chiropractic care, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications are among the primary means of addressing subluxation. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments associated with subluxation, individuals can take proactive steps to protect their joint health and well-being. Furthermore, embracing preventive measures can go a long way in minimizing the risk of subluxation and its associated complications.


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