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How does "cracking the back" affect the nerves?

We prefer the term “adjustment” to “cracking the back”.  The question, however, is still valid.

Let’s talk about 2 specific types of nerves that give information about joints (there are many kinds): proprioceptors detect movement, position; nociceptors detect noxious stimuli such as inflammation, heat, cold, etc.  The action of these 2 types of nerves are closely related.  When proprioceptors are active from normal joint movement, they will actually suppress the nociceptors. If there is normal joint movement, then there isn’t a noxious stimulus to be registered.  If the joint is not moving correctly, then the nociceptors will fire and give that information to the brain.

As I stated in my last post, when daily stressors persist, they can cause the tension patterns to change in the muscles. This affects the movement of the spinal joints.  Gradually over time, the joint begins to move improperly.  Now the nociceptors register a problem.  The brain attempts to adapt, changing the tension patterns of the muscles.  Now it is caught in a circle of reactions.

The nociceptors also stimulate the portion of the brain that registers danger (fight or flight reaction). With this stimulus, there are many things that the body does to prepare for fight or flight, such as: raise blood pressure, raise blood sugar, raise blood cholesterol, raise stress hormones, lower the immune system and many others.  How much do these things change?  Right away, not much.  But over time, they change dramatically and reduce our health.

Doing something to stop pain, whether it is from a drug or an adjustment, is short-sighted.  Until the proper joint movement is restored, this stress response will wear us down and shorten our life in years and in quality.

“But I felt it move!” you say.  Yes, it did with the adjustment, but full restoration of joint movement and function does not occur so easily.  Most subluxations are developing over months and years before becoming symptomatic.  Those that occur quickly are usually from trauma.  Healing takes longer than pain relief.  Just watch how long it takes a cut on your skin to heal – without pain being present.

It’s this intimate connection of the nervous system with the spinal joints that chiropractors are dealing with.  It is why I will recommend care beyond the symptoms.  It is why chiropractic can help restore health.  Pain relief without drugs is a good thing.  Pain relief without healing sets you up for future poor health.

I hope that this helps you make better choices.

Dr. Tom

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