When asked about chiropractic care generally, or spinal misalignment specifically, it's very common for our minds to go directly to neck or back pain. Th average person will almost always connect a physical injury to the presence of spinal misalignment and the need for chiropractic care, but that is not the only equation.
Causes of Misalignment
Spinal misalignment is more simply defined as nerve interference; signals sent from he brain, down the spnal cord and out via nerves to the muscles, organs and glands are being inhibited. When this happens it is the presence of spinal misalignment but it's not always the result of a physical stressor. There are actually 3 causes of misalignment: physical, emotional, and chemical.
Physical stressors are the most obvious: a fall or tumble; repetitive stress injuries sustained during sports; and strains or traumas caused by improper lifting, bending or twisting. These and other physical injuries may result spinal misalignment.
Emotional stressors are a little less obvious bu are easily understood. Emotional stress is felt in many ways. For instance, when stressed or scared the body will tense up and actually create a physical response to the source of the original emotion. Additionally, studies have shown that as an adaptive response to stress, there is s a change in the serum level of various hormones including corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), cortisol, catecholamines, and thyroid hormone. These changes may be required for the fight of flight response.
In other words, when stressed or afraid, our bodies release various hormones to create a biomechanical response. Yet, what if the source of that stress or fear is a prank? What if there is no actual danger? Our body has just released a deluge of hormones, we're in fight or flight mode, and we're geared up charged, ready to defend ourselves against...nothing. What happens to all those hormones that are flooding our body, entering cells, affecting muscles, and preparing to help us defend ourselves? When we look at misalignment this way, it's easy to see how emotional stressors may very well affect our spine and result in nerve interference.
Chemical stressors are the most difficult to understand; however, this is made easier when we consider the adaptability of the human body. The human body is a biomechanical organism made up a many different regulatory systems that when working together properly will respond to a change in conditions. When this change is conditions (whether external or internal) can't be modified, it may result in discomfort, illness or even disease.
Since the body is a self regulating system, it responds to chemicals as it does to foreign invaders: the immune system will respond and attempt to right the chemical balance in the body. Again, this process may create a biomechanical response which can affect the spine and result in nerve interference of spinal misalignment.
The most common source of chemical stressors will be in the diet. These include processed sugar, refined carbohydrates, bleached and processed grains and unhealthy fats. Along with preservatives, additives, artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners, and other chemicals in highly processed and packaged food items.
Commonly overlooked sources of chemicals found in our homes include those that we use to clean our homes, our furniture, our clothes and even ourselves. Unless they are specifically marketed to be organic and chemical free, the majority of household cleaning supplies are sludge made up chemical compounds, even furniture polish and laundry detergent. Shampoos, conditioners, and cosmetics are also known to contain chemicals.
Prescription and Non-Prescription Sources
Another common source is pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications. There is a reason these drugs are often referred to as chemicals. Dana Kolpin, a research hydrologist for the US Geological Survey, has said, "All pharmaceuticals, by design, are meant to elicit a biological response." There is no medication (prescription or otherwise) that was not designed to have an effect on the body. They are designed to create a response.
Clearly, no matter how hard we try, it's not going to possible to completely shelter ourselves and our children from all exposures to chemicals. We live in a society that makes that next to impossible. But with education and research we can at least avoid some of the more blatant chemicals. Making dietary changes, researching the best household cleaning supplies, and picking the best personal-care products, is a start.
The biggest concern must be how exposure to these substances is affecting our health and what to do about it. Regular chiropractic checkups and adjustments will surely be the first step at reversing the spinal misalignment being caused by these chemical stressors, and also the physical and emotional ones as well!