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Terrified of the Force Used in Chiropractic? We have the Gentle Chiropractic Answer for You: Network Spinal Anaylsis


I graduated from chiropractic school is 2004. In that time I have had friends, family, and members of the general public ask me many questions about getting chiropractic adjustments.  I have to say that I hear much more concern about whether the adjustments will be harsh versus whether they will be too gentle.  For many who are concerned with harsh adjustments, there is a tremendous solution.  Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) is one of the most GENTLE chiropractic techniques available.  Very specific contacts are made along the spine mainly at the top of the spine (neck/cervical spine) and the pelvis.  These two areas of the spine are where the spinal cord attaches to the structural (bony) part of the spine.  Specific contacts are made on the connective tissue surrounding the spine in these areas to influence (think of it like drawing a map) the brain to "find" specific areas of the spine that have stored tension due to stress, injuries, traumatic events, etc.  The brain has often ignored these areas for years--this can be detected on sEMG testing (a non-invasive test looking at neuro-muscular patterns).   In the many years after chiropractic school of training completed in order to practice NSA, the instructors compared the amount of force used in NSA to what you would comfortably place on a closed eyelid.  The contacts have to be made at the right time, the right place, with the right vectoring and pressure in order for the brain and body to respond appropriately ( I will discuss this further in the analysis part of this article).  An adjustment may feel like one of the doctors making a series of "touches" along your spine.  These contacts create a relaxation response, as making contacts in these specific place along the spine lowers the activity of the sympathetic side of the autonomic nervous system (fight or flight activity).  Combined with deep breathing in-through-the-nose, out-through-the-mouth breathing, which increases parasympathetic nervous system activity, patients most often feel incredibly relaxed after adjustments.  The body is moved into the healing side of the nervous system in which areas of inflammation, stress, and tension can dissipate.  There is a GENTLE, EFFECTIVE solution for chiropractic adjustments, as well as for helping YOU heal from back pain, neck pain, sciatic pain, headaches, migraines, and so much more. 

NSA has The Most Effective Analysis System:

When Scott and I were in school and eventually seeing patients using traditional chiropractic adjustments (what many of my patients think of as the "popping and cracking" type of chiropractic) we would often become frustrated in finding the same patterns of pain and misalignment again and again.  One of the reasons we were so attracted to NSA as a technique for adjusting the spine was that it had an in-depth and specific analysis system.  Instead of just finding an area that is painful or not moving correctly (this is how most chiropractic techniques are based), NSA is able to determine WHY the bone isn't moving correctly or WHY it continues to be a source of chronic tension in someone's life.  We also use analysis of the spine, muscles,  and nervous system using sEMG, thermography, and Heart Rate Variability (HRV), as well as hands-on methods to determine what needs to heal for the patient to move forward with their health and wellbeing.  The hands-on part of the analysis uses a combination of heal tension (measuring tendon tension gives us information on spinal cord (neural) tension-- the Achilles tendon is the easiest to measure), leg length differentials, muscle palpation patterns, spinal bone palpation,  and measuring inflammation around the spine. 

I will give an example I see almost every week.  I have patients come to us with hip or lower back pain that they have seen a chiropractor for years "managing" their pain.  The patient will typically describe that for their past adjustments, they lay on their side while the chiropractor pushes their hip forward.  They will often describe the pain as "coming and going" and that it has never truly resolved.  This is where NSA is very different.  When I see a patient, I am going to use the in-depth analysis of the sEMG, thermography, and HRV as well as the NSA analysis.  One of the tests I could do would be to look at a patient's leg length.  For example, if a patient has a short right leg (and the other chiropractor has been adjusting their right hip repeatedly), I may have the patient lay face down on the table and upon measuring their leg length, I could identify a short right leg (for example).  I could then have the patient lift his or her head and turn to the right, then turn to the left.  Meanwhile, I am observing leg length.  When the patient turns his head to the right, the patient's leg length quickly evens.  Or, with their head to the right, their leg length could slowly even.  Each of these signals is a different pattern.  When leg length quickly evens, that is indicating a C1 "tension pattern."  In this situation, it may appear that the hip pain is caused by the lower spine and pelvis, but really the tension pattern originates in the neck and creates a "sheering" type force throughout the rest of the spine.  If we didn't have this analysis process as a foundational piece of NSA care, I wouldn't have the proper information to use.  With adjustments performed with a very specific, gentle touch or contact to the spine at THE RIGHT PLACE, THE RIGHT TIME, THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF FORCE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION--a patient's world can change.  This is what we are looking for.......not just to put a band-aid on the patient and make them feel better for a short time period, but instead to find the ROOT CAUSE of the issue and create HEALING.

On a side note, you would be amazed at the number of patients that have come into our practice hopelessly telling us that their MD could not find a source of their chronic health problem or pain.  Using the Network Spinal Analysis system and the advanced testing we use at Body In Balance, the source or again, the "root cause" was discovered, corrected, and healing took place.  True healing can take time or be very quick, the finding the true cause of the issue is essential. 

NSA has a Huge Impact on Emotional Health:

In college, I studied medical anthropology, looking at different culture's ideas and practices regarding healing.  I found it fascinating and learned how in just about every culture (whether highly developed or more primitive) the emotional and mental aspect of healing is just as important as the physical journey towards healing.  NSA has been researched by the University of California Irvine Medical School, looking at its ability to improve well-being.  Previous studies had come out from the Journal of the American Medical Association stating that a patient's sense of well-being could not be determined based on lab data or a physical examination.  For example, a patient could be on their death bed but have an excellent sense of wellbeing.  On the other hand, they could be in perfect physical health with perfect lab values and have a very poor sense of well-being.  In response to this research, NSA was studied based on "How does NSA care enhance someone's wellbeing? " Wellbeing was categorized into emotional wellbeing, handling stress, life enjoyment, and physical wellbeing (pain levels, immune system, eczema, etc.)  What the study showed with over 2800 participants was that over 78% of people using NSA care improved in every single category.   We ask our patients questions on this all the time.  I love seeing that not only is pain decreasing for them, symptoms going away (like back pain, neck pain, sciatica, headaches, numbness, tingling, etc.) but that their ability to handle stress, adapt to life changes, and feel a sense of wellbeing, on an emotional front, shifts as well. 

A piece of NSA care that has fascinated me and continues to be such a piece of passion for me is that NSA can help shift your perceptions (let me explain how having a particular perception can be associated with your pain and healing process).  Candace Pert, a leading neurobiologist at Georgetown performed research for years that led her to the conclusion that when we experience stressful events in our lives, if the stressor is too big for the nervous system to adapt to immediately, our spine can move into patterns of distortion as a response (changing the shape, tone, tension, and position of the spine) to protect ourselves.  Once the neurological connection has been made for the body to use this distortion as a response to stress, the nervous system becomes hard-wired to handle stress in this specific way.  When this pattern is used over and over again, it becomes like a "filter" for the nervous system and how we perceive our world. 

Candace Pert's research showed us that much of our emotional health is actually determined by the flexibility and adaptability of the spine.  The less movement in the spine, the less access someone has to feeling positive emotion (this has to do with how the shape, tone, tension, and position of the spine affects the shape and binding sites of hormones--the more tension on the spine, the shape of the receptor site is altered which actually causes more negative-emotion-producing hormones to bind.  This creates more negative-, stress-, and pain- associated emotion).  The more adaptable the spine, the more likely they are to experience joy, peace, and wellbeing (again, less tension creates a different shape for the hormonal binding site......creating more peace-inducing hormones to bind).   Dr. Pert's research discussed how our nervous system filter then becomes our perception.  Perception is not seeing things as they truly are, it is seeing things through the lens of what you think, feel, and believe.  What you think, feel, and believe is colored by your past experiences and how your body handled stressful experiences.

If we go back to the connection of stressful events causing the spine to distort into patterns to handle the overload on the nervous system,  the brain and body can become stuck into a reality of perceiving the world through the lens of something that happened to him or her 20 years ago!  People may spend their whole lives acting or making decisions as if that traumatic or stressful event is still happening to them.    This may have worked as a strategy for them over and over again throughout their life, but using this strategy may or may not give you the desired outcome, but it does give you a sense of familiarity.  This can lead to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as making decisions out of fear and pain versus what you really want in life.

By truly shifting the shape, tension, tone, and position of the spine, as well as the mobility of the spine, someone's range of motion improves.  Because the adjustments down-regulate the stress response, the frontal cortex of the brain is able to engage, someone can then make better, higher level decisions, advancing their life in the direction of who they really want to be versus living in a state of pain, brain fog, and depression.

NSA is Constantly Advancing:

Many chiropractic techniques have remained stagnant for years.  NSA, on the other hand, continues to shift and change as more research on neurology is discovered (more and more studies are being published regarding helping people with ADD, sciatic, headaches, migraines, sleep issues, low back pain, neck pain, depression, etc.)  In fact, newer research has shown how NSA is creating new pathways for nerve signaling.  This has formed a whole new area of healthcare called "Reorganizational Healing."  If you are truly ready to advance and change, NSA is the place to start.  As advances are made in the field, the technique is shifted to produce even better results.  In this way, the Body In Balance Wellness Center mission of creating change, healing, and a better life for our patients is always in play. 

Remember, Create Health by Choice, Not by Chance.


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