Misaligned spine but no pain

Q: I understand how misaligned backbones can cause back pain. How is it possible for a person with a badly curved spine to have no back pain?

A: Chiropractors often describe how misaligned spinal bones (vertebrae) can cause back pain and a variety of health problems. The fact is that some misaligned vertebrae are harmful while others are not. It is the job of a chiropractor to determine if spinal bones (misaligned or not) are irritating nerves and causing dysfunction in the body.

All misaligned spinal bones have the potential to cause spinal nerve irritation. However, whether or not a person has back pain is better determined by how well the spine functions rather than the precise alignment of each spinal bone. For instance, even a person with a “picture perfect” spine may suffer severe back or neck pain due to a spinal bone becoming locked in place. When a vertebra fails to move properly, there is dysfunction in the spine. This can cause pain and other symptoms despite the almost perfect alignment. Conversely, a person with obvious abnormal curvatures in the spine can be relatively healthy and free of back pain if the spinal joints are moving properly and not impinging on nerves.

Since not all misalignments in the spine cause health problems, a chiropractor will perform tests and may take x-rays to locate the specific vertebrae that cause nerve irritation by not moving properly. Chiropractic adjustments are given to help restore proper nerve function and spinal joint mobility. In fact, chiropractic adjustments are more about keeping the spinal bones moving properly and less about keeping spinal bones in exact alignment.