The reason that the proper alignment of the spinal column is essential for optimum health is because the spinal column acts as a "switchboard" for the nervous system. When there is nerve interference caused by misalignments in the spine, known as subluxations, pain can occur and the body's defenses can be diminished. By adjusting the spinal joints to remove subluxations, normal nerve function can be restored.
The spinal column, or backbone, is made up of twenty-four bones called vertebrae that surround and protect the spinal cord. Between each vertebra, pairs of spinal nerves exit and extend to every part of the body, including muscles, bones, organs, and glands.
The nervous system itself is comprised of three overlapping systems:
The central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord
The autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as heart rate, digestion, and glandular function
The peripheral nervous system, which connects the central nervous system to all the body tissues and voluntary muscles
Health relies upon the balance and equilibrium of these three interrelated nerve systems, which can be easily disrupted by spinal injury, misalignment, stress, or illness. When vertebrae get out of alignment, pressure is placed on the nerves in that area. As a result, the nerves cannot carry out their proper function and this can lead to dysfunction, disharmony, and eventually disease.
The spine as a whole operates as a functional unit. Each vertebra can affect its neighbor and one portion of the spine may affect or damage other areas of the body. For instance, a lower back problem may force a person to bend forward, which can interfere with the movement of the ribs and restrict the functioning of the lungs. It may also cause the neck muscles to contract which, in some cases, could lead to muscle spasms, headaches, strained vision, or balance and coordination problems.
Subluxations of the spinal vertebrae can also affect the body in less obvious ways. A subluxation can have a direct effect on an organ's function when it impedes the proper nerve flow to that organ. When the vertebrae are properly aligned, the spine remains mobile, allowing the electrical impulses from the brain to travel freely along the spinal cord to the organs, thus maintaining healthy function. However, when subluxations occur, they interrupt the normal flow in the nerve structures which, in turn, affects the normal functioning of the organ.