One of the major consequences of stress overload occurs in the musculoskeletal system. As the name implies, this is composed of the muscles and bones of the body. As stressors begin to overwhelm our bodies, muscles become tight, or hypertonic. These tight muscles restrict the proper movement of our bodies’ joints. This, in turn, causes both irritation to nerves that are close to these joints and inflammation in the soft tissue surrounding them.
In chiropractic, these four conditions:
- tight muscles
- immobile joints
- nerve irritation
Make up what we call the subluxation complex. If this subluxation complex goes on for a long period of time, it can result in a degeneration of the joint.
For over one hundred years now, chiropractors have been treating these subluxation complexes with the intent of normalizing muscle tone, reintroducing movement into the joint, reducing nerve irritation and reducing inflammation.
The main focus of this treatment has been the spine, because of the influence this treatment has on the important nerves coming off the spinal cord.
As chiropractic evolved, it was discovered that other joints could be subluxated. Thus, they could be adjusted, or manipulated, to reduce pain and increase function. These joints include shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and feet, and another joint that has a particularly strong impact on the nervous system, the temperomandibular joint, or TMJ.
Chiropractors have devised many different ways of manipulating subluxated joints. Of these, I use two. One is the standard manual manipulative technique, which is practiced by the majority of chiropractors worldwide. In this technique, I use my hands to contact the joint and deliver a quick thrust.
For the other technique, I utilize a hand-held adjusting instrument called an Activator. The Activator delivers a very fast, but very gentle, adjustment. It works particularly well for children and people who don’t like the sound or feel of a manual adjustment.