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Restoring proper spinal function.
The adjustment is a great tool to restore the functions of the spine. The functions of the spine are protection, support and mobility.
The adjustment creates mobility, which allows better posture and as a result, better protection of the neural system. The symptoms that have been experienced, if related to the spinal structures, should resolve once the normal functions are restored.
It is from this perspective that chiropractors state that they do not treat the symptoms. The symptoms are side effects of the spine being unable to protect, support and move.
Survival of the fittest.
Lets look at the animal world to explain the concept a little better. If, for example, an antelope has a joint injury, it could be any joint, a leg or spinal joint, what would be the outcome if the animal becomes less mobile?
Remember predators seek out the young, old, ill and injured. If you, as the prey, cannot move you do not survive. Nature has developed an effective signal to keep animals moving, it's pain! Or at least the recognition of a noxious stimuli.
The purpose of pain is to encourage the creature experiencing it to remove themselves from the area causing the stimulation. An example is when you put your hand on a very hot surface. You don't think about the response.
Chiropractors encourage joint movement because it stimulates nerve endings that send signals, via the spinal cord, to the brain that movement is occurring. The reflex pain, muscle spasm, and protective postures will ease as a result. Based on gate theory of pain Melzak and Wall.
Normal movement stimulates the ligaments, tendons and muscles.
It also mechanically pumps nutrients and wastes through the discs and cartilages. These nutrients are essential for repair and healing.
Movement of the body causes stimulation to the nerve endings, known as mechanoreceptors, which can stop pain signals reaching the brain. Link