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The Jordan Method, Chiropractic Part II/IV
Thursday April 25, 2024 by Christopher Jordan

As palpation of the spine to identify subluxations was largely subjective, the addition of radiology to visually see them as “bones out of place,” produced a quantum shift in chiropractic. So, much so that Medicare when it first began covering spinal manipulation by a chiropractor, required that we had to demonstrate the existence of a subluxation on an x-ray. The subjective nature of palpation begs the question, “What is that bump exactly?” as revealed in Chiropractic Part I. Is it bone, muscle, tendon, ligament? On x-ray film, are we looking at displaced bones comprising a spinal joint, or simply physiological motion? An example: look at an x-ray of an elbow when it is held straight in comparison to one that has been flexed to ninety degrees. They will look different. So will vertebrae laterally flexed and/or rotated.

Early in his career, Dr. Jordan marked films demonstrating the above for a practitioner he once worked with, which that practitioner would present to a patient to reveal one or more subluxations. Many practitioners using this method did the same with their patients. From this information a treatment plan would be created. Spinal manipulation would be employed to adjust the vertebra back into place, which would require several adjustments over a prescribed number of visits. Those practitioners who performed and may still perform this style of chiropractic, which is an overwhelmingly large percentage of the profession, absolutely feel that this is the appropriate dispensing of chiropractic care.

Wayne Dyer published a book in 1989 titled, You’ll See it When You Believe it. As the principle of a subluxation being a bone out of place was standard in our education, why wouldn’t chiropractors strive to adjust them back into place? Why wouldn’t chiropractors perceive the orientation of spinal anatomy on an x-ray to be pathology rather than altered physiological orientation? They believed and many still do in the principle of the subluxation, which reduces the healing energy that passes through the nerves exiting the spine. Thus there will be restoration of normal tissue function once the anatomy is restored to its normal state. On the surface, this is an elegant hypothesis.

There have been multiple shifts in the profession in the last fifty years. The definition of the subluxation has been replaced to eliminate the dominance of structural orientation and include the neurophysiology of vertebral joint distress and inactivity or immobility. Static viewing of the spinal structures has been augmented and enhanced to include the dynamic evaluation of the the spine, thus addressing how it moves and what moves it. At this point we will suspend this part of the narrative as some readers will most likely find it more technical than they care to consider. Suffice it to say that chiropractic has moved further into practical science and true clinical competence.

How then has the adjustment persevered intact for so long? Patient perception. There is a phenomenon that Dr. Jordan has coined, “Proprioceptive Slight-of-Hand.” The analogy that he will use is, “Scratching an itch.” When an itch is so annoying, we will scratch the itch with such voracity that we may actually draw blood. Pain is the typical reason patients seek care from a chiropractor. When we feel pain, we simply would prefer to feel nothing or anything else, but the pain. Massage therapists will note that patients want deep tissue therapy because deep pressure out competes pain for attention by the nervous system. Such is the same with adjustments to the spine. The sensory information derived from the joints of the spine after the delivery of the spinal manipulation defeats pain. It should be noted that any form of therapy that moves the joint will provide this and it is, in fact, the restoration of joint motion that is paramount in the treatment of the spine, or any articulating structures (joints), for both pain relief and to maintain the health of the joint being treated and all of the associated tissues.

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