Recently “subluxation” has become a commonly used term in the chiropractic world. So, what is subluxation? Subluxation is the compression of nerve pathways. It is caused when a joint doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. It may be that the joint is not moving how it should. Or, it could be that it’s misaligned. A subluxation could be in the shoulder, the vertebrae or spine, the elbow, or the knee. Commonly people refer to a dislocated joint. A subluxation is a less severe dislocation. However, if left untreated a subluxation can trigger a degenerative process in the surrounding areas. It might become more difficult to reverse the subluxation after waiting a long time for treatment. Under those circumstances, the body adjusts itself to the misaligned or partially dislocated shape.




There are several indicators of a possible subluxation. First there is pain and swelling around the joint. The joint may have a burning sensation. A patient will have limited mobility or loss of range of motion. You may not be able to move the joint at all, or it may be very stiff and inflexible. The patient will feel instable at the joint and may have difficulty bearing weight. There could be bruising. A patient may even have numbness or loss of feeling in the area. The numbness is usually temporary. Patients experiencing subluxation, especially in the spine, may also experience headaches.




Subluxation has 3 main causes. Trauma or injury is the most common cause. This can include a fall, a car accident, or sports injury. Overuse can is also a leading cause. This is especially common in sports where an athlete is using joints in a repetitive pattern over an extended period of time. Finally, joint hyperextension can cause subluxation. This occurs when the patient extends the joint past its normal range of function.


Loose joints can also lead to subluxation. People that have generally loose joints or joints that are overly flexible are more prone to subluxations. There are many conditions that cause this looseness.  During pregnancy women’s joints often become loose due to the production of certain hormones.


Spinal Subluxation


Spinal subluxation can be the result of trauma to the spine such as an accident, a fall, or a severe blow. The ligaments around the vertebra in the spine rupture and are injured. The bones could also be injured. These injuries can suppress the spinal cord and cause nerve pain. Patients often experience shooting pains or even loss of nerve function.



Shoulder Subluxation


A shoulder may feel like it is loose or slipping in the socket. In fact, a shoulder subluxation is just that, the ball of the upper arm has come partially out of its socket. Pain is often extreme. There is loss of motion. These conditions are most often caused by trauma or severe injury to the shoulder. Sports that involve repetitive use of the shoulder can loosen the ligaments and make a subluxation more likely.


Knee Subluxation


The kneecap is called the patella. A patellar subluxation occurs when the kneecap moves partially out of its position on the thigh bone. Patients will have pain and swelling in the knee, and the knee may look out of shape. A patient may feel the knee “give out” on them. A patellar subluxation is most often caused by falling directly onto the knee cap. Similar to the shoulder, sports can also loosen the ligaments and make a subluxation more likely. It is the most common knee problem in both children and adolescents.


Elbow Subluxation


Elbow subluxations often occur after someone falls and catches themselves with their hands. They are very painful but may be less obvious than other subluxations. The elbow may have movement even with pain. Another common occurrence of this type of issue is in young children. If a child is pulled hard by his arm, it can cause a dislocation. The young bones that are still growing are more susceptible.




Early treatment is vital to ensure that the joint heals correctly and in the proper position. Proper treatment will help to avoid any future pain or further injuries. The best treatment is from a chiropractor. The primary goal of chiropractic care is to maintain the alignment of the spine and body. Identifying and adjusting subluxations is critical to this goal. In addition, patients can include treatments at home such as proper rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). There are also stretches a patient can do at home. These home treatments will help with some of the symptoms, but they cannot treat the subluxation itself. Only a licensed chiropractor can do that with a proper adjustment.

If you think you may have a subluxation, Spinal Logic can help! Dr. Mike will take the time to assess every aspect of your lifestyle, medical history, and body to find a permanent solution to ease your pain. Contact our team today at 317-745-5111 to schedule an appointment or learn more.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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