The term “subluxation” has a long history in the healing arts
literature. According to Haldeman
it was used at the time of
while the earliest English definition is attributed
to Randall Holme in 1688. Holme
defined subluxation as “a
dislocation or putting out of joynt.”Watkins
a 1746 definition of the term.The matter is further complicat-
ed by the diverse array of alternative terms used to describe sub-
listed 296 variations and synonyms used by
medical, chiropractic, and other professions. Rome concluded
the abstract of his paper by stating,“It is suggested that, with so
many attempts to establish a term for such a clinical and biolog-
ical finding, an entity of some significance must exist.”
The possible neurological consequences of subluxation were
described by Harrison in 1821, as quoted by Terrett
of the vertebrae become displaced or too prominent, the patient
experiences inconvenience from a local derangement in the
nerves of the part. He, in consequence, is tormented with a train
of nervous symptoms, which are as obscure in their origin as
they are stubborn in their nature.
..” Although medical authori-
ties acknowledge that neurological complications may result
classical chiropractic definitions mandate the
presence of a neurological component. D. D. Palmer and B. J.
defined subluxation as follows: “A (sub)luxation of a
joint, to a Chiropractor, means pressure on nerves, abnormal
functions creating a lesion in some portion of the body, either in
its action,or makeup.”According to Stephenson’s 1927 text,
following must occur for the term “vertebral subluxation” to be
1. Loss of juxtaposition of a vertebra with the one above, the
one below, or both.
2. Occlusion of an opening.
3. Nerve impingement.
4. Interference with the transmission of mental impulses.
noted, “Common to all concepts of subluxation
are some form of kinesiologic dysfunction and some form of
Component Models of Subluxation
developed and popularized the five
component model of the “vertebral subluxation complex”
attributed to Faye.
However, the model was presented in a text
dated 1982, while the Faye notes bear a 1983 date.
The original model has five components:
1. Spinal kinesiopathology
5. Biochemical changes.
The “vertebral subluxation complex” model includes tissue
specific manifestations described by Herfert
1. Osseous component
2. Connective tissue involvement, including disc, other liga-
ments, fascia, and muscles
3.The neurological component, including nerve roots and
5.Advancing complications in the innervated tissues and/or
the patient’s symptoms.This is sometimes termed the “end
tissue phenomenon” of the vertebral subluxation complex.