Our Central Nervous SystemClick to Download Article
By: Dr. Stephen O’Neil
We live in the communication age, where staying in touch with each other has become a priority. This is evident in how much we rely on telephones, cell phones, the Internet and satellite. A perfect example is how we can just flip on the television and see the Olympics as clear as day in real time from the other side of the world. Without the proper infrastructure in place this would not be possible. Cell phones require towers to receive and transmit signals. Satellites require dishes positioned just right to get a good clear picture. Even regular cable television or phones require a network of clean wires and cables with good connections to relay the information we want.
You're wondering what this has to do with health and chiropractic. The answer is this. Just as multi-media requires a complex set of equipment to send and receive proper signals, so do our bodies. Our communication infrastructure is known as the central nervous system (CNS). Our CNS is made up of our brain and spinal cord. The brain is the control centre for the rest of the system. The brain receives, interprets, and sends nerve signals to and from the rest of the nerves and receptors in our body. This process is extremely complex and overwhelmingly complicated beyond the scope of this article. A simple explanation of how this works would go something like this. A signal is received by a receptor in the body. Example ‘The water is very hot on my hand.' This signal travels from the peripheral nerves in the hand to the spinal nerves in the neck. This signal travels up the spinal cord to the brain. The brain interprets this information as pain and sends a signal back down the spinal cord through the nerves in the arm to the muscles in the arm. This causes the muscle in the arm to contract and the hand is pulled away from the water. This seems pretty simple and logical. Now try to imagine billions of these signals being fed into the CNS every second and the brain trying to interpret, filter, send out counter signals and maintain balance within the system all at the same time.
This is what is going on in your body the whole time you're awake. Constant input form every sense in your body, sight, sound, smell, and touch are in constant state of stimulation. Your brain does a good job of recognizing most of this info as junk and filtering it from our consciousness. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything. Our brain is also in constant communication with our internal environment, controlling how food is digested, hormones excreted, oxygen being distributed, temperature being regulated, etc. Essentially maintaining balance and harmony.
Now imagine that there are detours along these communication pathways from the body to the brain and back again. Some signals would take longer to get from the receptors to the brain or from the brain out to the system. Some signals would get bumped around and altered so there would be some miscommunication or bad signals being sent. Some signals would hit the detour and become lost altogether, never reaching the brain or physical destination at all.
This is exactly what happens when we have misalignments or restrictions in our spine. It forms a detour or roadblock in our central nervous system. How it affects our health depends directly on how much inflammation is around the joint and what area of the spine it is located. If these restrictions also known as ‘subluxations' are located in the neck, symptoms may involve the arms, sinuses, lungs, etc. If the subluxation is in the mid-back, symptoms may include decreased immune system function, breathing problems, acid reflux, etc. Subluxations in the low back can cause low back pain, sciatica, bowel or digestive issues, etc.
The point of the story is that subluxations in the spine have a negative effect on the ability of the CNS to properly relay nerve signals to and from the brain. These roadblocks in the pathways have a negative effect on overall function and ultimately overall health. For someone to live life to it's fullest and experience optimal health they must have a fully functioning nervous system free of interference and subluxations.
Chiropractors are skilled practitioners trained to locate and remove subluxations and ultimately restore proper CNS function. This is ultimately necessary for optimal health.