New Research Shows Widespread Prevalence of Subluxation Components on MRI

Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation
New Research Shows Widespread Prevalence of Subluxation Components on MRI

Up to 91% of Patients Had Spinal Abnormalities Consistent with Vertebral Subluxation

In the first ever study of the prevalence of vertebral subluxation components on magnetic resonance scans the results showed that 91% of MRI scans of the cervical spine and 89% of lumbar spine scans had spinal abnormalities consistent with subluxation. The study was conducted through the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation, its President Christopher Kent DC, JD and Foundation Research Fellow Kathleen Costello MS, DC. Kent is also the Director of the Center for Scholarly Activity at Sherman College of Chiropractic.

CLICK HERE to review the study

The study included 737 subjects making it one of the largest studies conducted on vertebral subluxation in the history of the chiropractic profession. The study looked at MRI reports on 737 consecutive cases referred by Doctors of Chiropractic to a private, free standing imaging center.

MRI reports of patients referred by chiropractors who attended the imaging center in a three and one half year period were assessed for spinal pathologies consistent with components of vertebral subluxation. Six hundred ninety-seven spinal MRI reports and 40 extremity reports were obtained. The spinal MRI reports consisted of 325 cervical, 11 thoracic, and 361 lumbar reports. 

Three hundred twenty-five MR studies of the cervical spine were reviewed with 91% presenting spinal abnormalities, while only 28 of 325 had no abnormalities noted. These abnormalities consisted of components of vertebral subluxation including disc degeneration, osteophytosis, posterior ridging, and arthrosis. Two hundred twenty-five disc lesions were present with many reports indicating multiple lesions at different segments. Three hundred sixty-one MR lumbar spine reports were reviewed with 89% presenting with spinal abnormalities consistent with components of vertebral subluxation, while 39 of 361 had no abnormalities noted. Two hundred fifty-one (70%) of 361 had disc degeneration. Two hundred twenty four disc lesions were identified along with 24 showing canal stenosis.

According to Dr. Kent, the lead author of the study, “These findings are significant for several reasons including demonstration of how common the biomechanical component of vertebral subluxation is within this population.” Kent added “Given the unscientific restrictions being placed on imaging within chiropractic, these findings further support the use of imaging to characterize the severity of vertebral subluxation in those seeking chiropractic care.” 

Beyond demonstrating the clinical need for imaging in the management of vertebral subluxation, the study also sheds light on just how common vertebral subluxation related findings are within the population.

According to Matthew McCoy DC, MPH, Vice president of the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation, “Chiropractors have long believed that vertebral subluxation is an important public health issue and that a large number of people are affected by it. This study, along with several others the Foundation has been working on, show that vertebral subluxation is highly prevalent within the population.”

Christie Kwon DC, MS, MPH, Research Fellow and Board Member of the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation and Matthew McCoy DC, MPH, recently completed a study to estimate the prevalence of vertebral subluxation in the population and to explore the public health implications of subluxation using a sample of individuals presenting for chiropractic care.

Kwon's study, titled: Secondary Analysis of a Dataset to Estimate the Prevalence of Vertebral Subluxation and its Implications for Health Promotion and Prevention, analyzed a total of 1,851 patient records from 7 chiropractic clinics in 4 states. The study found that the overall prevalence of vertebral subluxation was 79%.  Kwon's paper is currently undergoing peer review prior to publication.

CLICK HERE for more on Kwon's study

Kent stated, “Studies on the prevalence of subluxation have been sorely needed for a long time as it is crucial to know just how much of the population is affected by it.”

The results of this type of research can be used to drive policy, not only in health care, but in education and other sociocultural arenas.

It is a well-entrenched belief within the community of chiropractors who practice the clinical science and art of locating analyzing and correcting vertebral subluxations that vertebral subluxations are in and of themselves a detriment to the fullest expression of life and as a result are a significant public health threat.  This threat includes the widespread belief among segments of the chiropractic profession that vertebral subluxations lead to increased morbidity and mortality and that it represents a serious burden because it affects a large proportion of the world’s population. Indeed, some go so far to suggest that everyone is susceptible beginning at an early age. Additionally, it is a long standing philosophical tenet of the profession that vertebral subluxations develop as a failure of the body to adapt to physical, chemical and emotional challenges.

The series of epidemiological studies being carried out by the Foundation are a huge step forward towards answering these fundamental questions.

The Foundation is grateful for everyone who has supported these efforts. Please consider donating to these efforts yourself.

Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation