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A normal vertebra
Phase I sublaxation
Phase II sublaxation
Phase III sublaxation
Phase IV sublaxation
Vertebrae are smooth and healthy, when no subluxation are present. This allows equal spacing of the discs and proper curvature of the spine. The openings allow the nerves to flow without interference. Subluxations and spinal degeneration usually begin with a vertebra out of alignment. When subluxated, the vertebra cannot move properly and causes undue stress to the surrounding discs and nerves. Some subluxations are minor and may not show up until years later. Untreated subluxations can cause calcium deposits and bone spurs. The surfaces of the subluxated vertebrae become rough and uneven and can cause the compressed discs to lose both fluid and cushion. The nerves also become irritated and problems can become chronic. The degenerative process accelerates and causes a loss of bone mass. The discs starts to collapse, the fusion process begins, and health problems may become more severe. This is the final stage of degeneration. Bones are fused together, becoming permanently subluxated, and joints are immobilized. Nerve damage and soft tissue damage are part of the degeneration process.

Vertebral subluxation  (click image for larger view)
X-ray of vertebral subluxation
A spinal subluxation

Subluxation is a dysfunctional biomechanical spinal segment (lesion) which adversely affect the transmission of normal nerve impulses (messages) to and from the various organs and tissues of the body, leading to neuromusculoskeletal and visceral disorders. Uncorrected, the spine will eventually undergo a process of degeneration.

Medical doctors only refer to "significant structural displacements" as subluxations, whereas chiropractors suggest that a dysfunctional segment, whether displaced significantly or not, should be referred to as a "subluxation".


"The nervous system controls and coordinates all organs and structures of the human body".[1] Misalignment of the spinal vertebrae and discs may cause irritation of the nervous system which could affect the structures, organs, and functions of the body: