The nervous system is a two way street. The brain tells the cells what to do then the cells report to the brain what has been done. In a typical healing process, such as a skin abrasion, the ends of the nerves that are irritated by the abrasion send pain/damage signals to the brain, this is called the sensory path. Immediately after the brain receives this injury information, specific brain cells send electrical signals, called the motor pathway, back down to the abrasion to create a perfect healing process. This same sensory and motor pathway to and fro, from the body to the brain and from the brain to the body occurs billions of times a day throughout our bodies. In fact, even without injuries body cells are constantly replacing themselves relative to the stress we place on them in our lives. This is why a callous forms after a blister, a tennis player’s forearm gets bigger, a marathon runner’s body becomes lighter or a sumo wrestler’s body becomes heavier. Within a wide choice of genetic options our life choices allow us to shape ourselves into the perfect healing being of our dreams.
Those messages that stream between the brain and the body’s cells travel through the spinal cord and the nerves that exit the spinal cord between each vertebra. The obvious chiropractic connection to health is that a pinched nerve prevents the proper sensory/motor relay system to work successfully. Most patients identify this occurrence as pain. “I have a pinched nerve in my neck” or “My back is out of whack.” Indeed spinal pain is a signal that a spinal misalignment has occurred and is pinching a nerve. This scenario makes up the “touted” cases for the chiropractic doctor. The real magic in chiropractic however occurs in the non pain associated maintenance patients.
If you have ever pulled someone’s hair likely you’ll hear them squeal with pain. Interestingly, if one continued to pull, there would be a point when that person would not even know their hair was being pulled. Science has proven that even though the sensory/pain pathway becomes fatigued and painless, the initial irritation to the nerve still remains. Now let’s go back to the spine.
When a vertebra goes out of alignment and pinches a nerve (vertebral subluxation) not only does the sensory nerve get affected, but the motor part does as well. So while the pain slowly goes away from the “fatigue factor”, the motor part of the nerve continues to be compromised not allowing the brain to body pathway to successfully send it’s impulses to its target organ or tissue (see figure). Those affected organs and tissues slowly become weakened and susceptible to our environments. We then blame our environment (germs, viruses, carcinogens and allergens) for the cause of disease.
People live with pinched nerves and don’t know it. Like a silent killer the compromised nerves continue to not allow life giving impulses from the brain to their destination. This is where chiropractic maintenance is so important.
The skills of a chiropractor can detect a pinched nerve even if the patient does not feel any symptoms. Through x-ray, leg length, thermography, palpation etc. we correct these silent killers to allow the motor part of the nerve to function again. When the motor function of the nerve is restored then the innate intelligence, which runs and governs our body, is again restored. The “Wisdom from within” as described in the textbook Gray’s Anatomy can again do its job and that is to heal.
Do yourself a huge favor and have your spine checked regularly, symptom or no symptom. Chiropractic is your best health insurance for life.