Updated: Feb 8, 2021
DD Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, wrote in his 1910 text, The Chiropractor’s Adjuster, about the 3 T’s (thoughts, trauma, and toxins) which he identified as the causes of vertebral subluxation. Since that time, we have expanded our understanding of how these three factors impact our body’s function, but the basic concepts he laid down for the profession have survived the test of time.
What we understand now is that the subluxation is more than a spinal bone out of place, pinching a nerve as once thought. While this may occur in a smaller percentage of cases, the neurological changes associated with spinal misalignments occur throughout the nervous system and not just in the nerves exiting at the level of the problem.
Subluxations indicate communication breakdown between the body and brain and are the condition that Chiropractors work to correct. Subluxations happen for many reasons, all of which fall into three basic categories: thoughts, traumas, and toxins.
It is easiest to think of a misalignment being caused by physical injuries such as obstetrical procedures involving pulling and twisting of a baby’s head during delivery, falls endured while an infant is learning how to walk, sports injuries, bad posture, or repetitive injuries at work. What we fail to consider is how our thoughts affect our spines.
Thoughts cause a specific combination of chemical reactions in the brain, that gives man the ability to adapt to his environment. Thought has the potential to be both constructive and destructive. Unlike other organisms, man represents a dichotomy in his approach to life. All animals have an inborn ability to perform all functions of daily life, we call it instinct. Man is born with this as well. We call this Innate ability. However, man has also the ability of cognizant thought: to learn, to think, to worry. This is the opposite of Innate instincts, it’s our “Educated” brain.
The problem with having our educated brain is that it allows us to ignore our instincts and work against innate. For example, say you come home from work tired but know that you have laundry to do. You would likely ignore your instinct to rest so that your clothes are clean. You’ve now ignored innate and run your body down a bit more. Now think about the day you got married or your children were born. Can you FEEL the anticipation again? Our bodies have PHYSICAL responses to our thoughts, both directly and indirectly! This reaction can lead to subluxations!
These stresses we have discussed can cause adaptations to life stress that lead to muscles holding bones out of place. Realize that the vertebrae never move without a muscle pulling them. And no muscle moves a bone without a nerve telling it to do so. So why does our brain order our muscles to hold vertebrae in a misaligned position in the presence of stress?
When our brain senses harm either from a traumatic injury, stressful thought, or exposure to a toxin, it shifts into protection mode. The brain keeps track of the whole body’s level of harm and determines whether we should be in protection mode (fight or flight) or if we have the “all clear” and can invest in growth mode. Our entire body is hardwired to respond to these signals one way or another: we cannot be both in growth and protection at the same time. The signals that inform the brain of our status are our thoughts: from our mind AND our body. While harmful mental thoughts can be what you would think of as being of the negative, angry, fearful, or depressed variety, traumas and toxins represent negative “body thoughts” and influence the same centers in the brain as these mental thoughts do.