My dad was an electrician and he used to take me with him on some of the jobs. I was probably 10 years old at the time and he would have me help with crawling in attics or “fishing” wires through walls. As I got older and more experienced, I would help with more complicated projects.
In the early days, fuse boxes were common and, eventually, were replaced by circuit breakers. Dad would usually get a call from a customer because a number of lights would not work, or the refrigerator would stop working, etc. He would always go to the fusebox or circuit breaker first to determine if there was a “blown” fuse or a “tripped” breaker. He would explain that electric current, passing through a wire, would supply the necessary energy to cause the lights or refrigerator or TV to work. If there was too much energy or electricity going through the wire, the fuse or the circuit breaker was designed to break in order to prevent a fire or other type of damage…this was a good thing. It was usually an all-or-none principle, meaning that once the fuse or breaker was tripped, the entire circuit, and thus all the things connected to it, would stop working. The other circuits in the house would still function.
When I became a Chiropractor, I began to appreciate the lessons my father had taught me, especially while helping him in his work.
In a similar way, one vertebrae can be compared to one circuit breaker or fuse. The spine (made up of 24 moveable vertebra) is analogous to the fuse box or electric box.
When a Chiropractor adjusts the area of the spine of someone with neck or low back pain, it may seem like we just reset the mechanical breaker. This is where the similarity between the residential electrical system and the body’s nervous system ends.
There is an overlap of nerve system information (electrical energy) from one level (vertebrae) of the spine to the next. What that means is that the Chiropractor (electrician) cannot really just look or feel the spine and identify the specific part of the spine that is CAUSING the specific problem that the person came in to have treated. In the electrical example, there is basically one wire and one fuse (breaker) with electrical information going to the television, fridge, lights, etc.
This difference between the two systems is the difference between a mechanistic and vitalistic approach to viewing things. If humans were robots, then a mechanistic approach makes sense.
One could spend many hours making comparisons to the mechanistic approach within health. Chiropractic makes sense because of the vitalistic perspective. Even though it seems to make sense that when a Chiropractic adjustment is made in the low back and that person’s low back symptoms go away … that is a mechanistic view of what seems to have happened.
I can tell you that many Chiropractors will adjust one vertebra in the neck and peoples’ low back pain goes away … without ever touching the lower back …more likely explained through the vitalistic view.
As is always the case, I am not writing about specific conditions like low back pain or neck pain or headaches, etc. What I hope to convey is that due to the vitalistic foundation of Chiropractic, a vertebral subluxation will always cause a problem and it is imperative, for optimal health, to be checked for it and that it be corrected.