Classes and Presentations by Dr. Michon Hawkins:

Spinal Care

Why it's important to keep your spine healthy


The World Health Organization defined health as "a condition in which all functions of the body and mind are normally active. Health is a state of complete physical, mental, or social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." That means getting up with energy in the morning, feeling great without coffee, looking forward to the day, and being pleasant to the people around us. Do you?


Let's start at the beginning: we begin life as a single cell that divides and divides. Up until the sixteenth week, our cells are all the same — no fingernail or hair cells, no heart cells, no eye cells. Then, the spark of a nerve develops into the brain and spinal cord and directs the rest of our cells to grow into bones, organs and tissue that comprise our body. The nervous system still controls our body today.

You are a human being with a brain, spinal cord and nerves coming out of the spinal cord and extending all over your body. Those of you with sciatica or carpel tunnel can trace your pain down one of these nerve paths. Sciatica goes down the back of your leg and carpel tunnel runs down the outside of your arm.

However, there is also a set of nerves that we do not feel. This set of nerves controls a lot: our eyes, ears, nose, heart, lungs, stomach, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen, adrenals, the small and large intestine, the bladder, and male and female organs. The head, of course, is covered with a semi-moveable skull that protects the brain. Extending downward, twenty-four moveable vertebrae and the sacrum encase the spinal cord. The mobility of these bones makes them more vulnerable to spinal misalignments, called subluxations.


If the nerve to the heart is cut, the organ will die. In an animal experiment, researchers at the university of colorado cut the nerve to the heart and connected the nerve to a light bulb, which it lit up. This proved there is electricity running through the nerves.

Then the researchers hooked the cut nerve to an electronic graph. They wanted to know how much pressure it would take to cut the electricity to the organ in half. They found that the mere weight of a dime reduced the electrical current fifty percent. So, if a person has a subluxation — a fall or any other injury that affects his nerves — the related organ will have to work twice as hard to perform properly. Without chiropractic care, over the years, the organ can be greatly weakened.

Picture of a subluxation This is a picture of a subluxation, which is a chiropractic term meaning "a misaligned vertebra impinging on a nerve." This is the side view of the spine, the bones are the vertebrae, and the spinous processes that stick out behind are the bumps you feel on your back. Between each pair of vertebrae is a hole where the nerve emerges. This is where spinal subluxations occur. Chiropractors are trained to reposition the vertebra and release the nerve so the electricity can flow correctly to the organ.

This is not just a good representation of a subluxation, but a drawing of an autopsy photograph. This is the "T10" nerve, which is pinched and withered. This impaired nerve connects to the kidney, and this autopsied patient died of kidney failure. Had the patient had chiropractic care, his kidneys could have functioned properly. This photograph is a dramatic example of the fact that chiropractic can play a life and death role.


In the late nineteenth century, a health researcher named D. D. Palmer made a discovery that led to the creation of chiropractic. He adjusted the spine of a patient who had a back injury and had subsequently been deaf for seventeen years. After the adjustment, the patient recovered his hearing.

Palmer spent the next fifty years researching to find out why. He concluded that nerve interference is the main cause of disease, and removing the nerve interference allows healing.


Now lets look at ligaments. Ligaments are ropey fibers that hold bones together. They also surround the discs that cushion the vertebrae. Ligaments can stretch and tear over time if there is trauma or incorrect movement. When a tear occurs, it causes pain, which gradually subsides and later returns. This can happen repeatedly. Then, one day the patient will bend over to tie his shoes and won't be able to straighten up.

It is important to care for these little tears before they get serious.

Healthy tissue is organized and moveable. If it tears and there is no chiropractic care, the injury heals with scar tissue. Scar tissue is rigid, and although it patches the tear, it will never function with the suppleness of the original tissue. Researchers have established that, with chiropractic care, the injury heals with organized, flexible tissue and will function like the original tissue.


Now let's talk about our spinal curves. A fetus in the uterus has a C-curved spine. When the baby is first placed on its stomach, it lifts its head, strengthens its neck muscles and develops a forward curve in its neck. Then, when the child begins to crawl, it develops the low-back muscles and forms a forward curve in the lower back. When the child stands, there is a forward curve in its neck and low back.

Engineers have proven that the curved spine acts like a spring and can support more weight than a straight rod.

We have all been taught the correct way to lift objects, which is to squat and keep the back straight. When a person bends over at the waist to lift a heavy object, he is incorrectly using small muscles in his back to lift. He is also flattening his lower back, eliminating its spring-like structure. This makes the object eleven times harder to lift!

By squatting with a straight back, the strong leg muscles are used, and this maintains the forward curve in the back. The key to healthy lifting is finding a way to lift while maintaining the curve in the back and using the strong leg muscles.


Muscles are the main support for joints. A chiropractor with an applied kinesiology specialty can evaluate whether the muscles have a balanced tone or not and, if not, correct it. If you hurt after exertion, usually a muscle is malfunctioning, and applied kinesiology can help you.


Scoliosis is a sideways curve in the back. Up until age fifteen, the sacrum is comprised of several small bones, which then fuse into the large bone we see in adults. If the little bones in the sacrum get misaligned, they can compensate by causing curvature of the spine. This needs to be corrected in childhood, before the age of fifteen, or the sacrum can fuse with a subluxation and the child will have back problems throughout life.

Chiropractors are trained to detect all types of scoliosis, and most are easy to correct in children. Idiopathic scoliosis, however, a type that is hard to correct, takes a big commitment and a lot of work.


It may surprise you that many babies are subluxated during the birth process. In all births, doctors twist and turn the baby's head. And don't think the baby's safe with a Caesarian. A friend had an emergency Caesarian. When I met her baby two months later, his neck was subluxated, pinching on the nerve that controls the digestive system. For the first two months of his life, this baby's head was tilted and he screamed every time he was fed. After two chiropractic adjustments, his neck was straight, he was eating like a horse and he turned into a happy baby.

Babies should not be rushed into walking. If they walk too soon, they do not have a chance to strengthen their low back muscles. With weak muscles, they will fall more often and risk subluxations. There also is a strong correlation in rushed walking and the development of ADD and ADHD.

It also is critical that babies not be swung by the arms or tossed in the air. The shoulder is the most moveable and vulnerable part of the body. Pulling on it can hurt the shoulder, the collarbone, the shoulder blade and the neck. Tossing a baby is dangerous. The baby's head is heavier than its body and tossing can cause whiplash.


Seat belts. Chiropractors are seeing more severe cases of whiplash since seat belts were instituted. Previously, the victim of an accident would be in the hospital or dead.

It is important to know how to wear seat belts. The shoulder strap should sit across your collar bone and your breast bone. The lap belt should sit across your hip bones. Anywhere else would get into some dangerous soft tissue areas, like your internal organs and your neck.

The whiplash injury is very serious, and has little to no symptoms in the beginning, because initially the shock can cause numbness in the body.

Within the neck region's thirty-five joints is some of the most complex movement within the body. The cervical bones house and protect the spinal cord as it comes from the brain. The whiplash movement can pull and traumatize the spinal cord, the brain, the little head and face bones that are supposed to move slightly when you breathe, and even harm the sacrum. Whiplash often affects the jaw and jaw muscles. There may be dizziness, ear ringing, nausea, blurred or double vision, headache and a myriad of other symptoms.

The nerves of equilibrium, the nerve endings responsible for balance, are also intricately associated with this area. This includes cranial nerve VIII, which supplies the balance mechanism of the middle ear; cranial nerves III, IV, and VI, which supply the muscles that move the eyes and are intricately associated with the visual righting reflexes; and finally, the nerve endings in the upper cervical vertebral ligaments, which supply the head-on-neck reflexes. All these reflexes must organize together. If there has been injury causing improper nerve supply to one or more of the areas, neurological disorganization develops. That can cause a change in muscle function almost anywhere in the body. This accounts for some of the unusual and little-understood symptoms that the whiplash victim suffers.

After whiplash, it is important that you be examined by a doctor knowledgeable in the intricacies of the area.


  1. Getting off a chiropractor or massage table or getting up from bed, you need to turn on your side and push yourself up with your elbows to a sitting position. This takes the pressure off the low back.
  2. While you are under care, you need to get enough sleep. At least eight hours a night is recommended. Sleeping helps the body heal. Also, if you sleep on your side, put one pillow between your legs and a bigger, fluffy pillow under your head. If you sleep on your back, you need the pillow to support the forward curve in your neck and put a pillow under your knees to put your low back in proper position.
  3. Don't sleep without a pillow.
  4. Don't sleep on a saggy or unsupportive mattress.
  5. Don't sleep on your back with a pillow under your shoulders.
  6. Don't sleep with more than one pillow under your head.
  7. Don't sleep on your stomach on a soft mattress with a pillow.
  8. Don't lie on your side, supporting your head with your arm. This will cause your arm to go to sleep, which is actually caused by a pinched nerve.
  9. When working at your desk, stack your work up so you are not hanging your head, straightening the forward curve in your neck.
  10. Do not try to adjust yourself. One of my instructors at chiropractic college was watching a football practice. One of the players left the field, removed his helmet, took his head in His hands, began to adjust his neck and fell to the ground.the doctor got him to the hospital, because the player had jumped a joint and almost severed his spinal cord.
  11. Do not put your neck or back in too much of a curve. Sit in straight chairs. Recliners are not good unless they have a lumbar support.
  12. Balance loads on both sides of your body.
  13. Wear backpacks on both shoulders. Don't carry more than 15% of your weight in the backpack.
  14. Bend your elbows when carrying grocery sacks; use the strong arm muscles instead of a relaxed, straight arm, which pulls on nerves and blood vessels in your neck.
  15. When bending over, for instance when getting something out of the trunk of the car, ironing, doing dishes, or brushing your teeth, put one foot up on something about 6 inches tall. In this position, you use the strong muscles in your leg, instead of the little muscles in your back.
  16. When getting in a car, sit down sideways, swing your legs in while turning toward the front of the car.


Subluxations are like icebergs: most of the problem is below the surface, and pain is only a symptom. Treating pain with drugs does not cure the problem. Chiropractors do not have a problem with life-saving drugs, but more than 75% of all drugs are anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers that fool your body into thinking that there is nothing wrong. Wouldn't you like to get to the bottom of the problem and fix that, rather than cover it up and let it fester until it is serious, cannot be treated naturally and will require surgery?

The road to recovery is not easy. You may work hard, go to your chiropractor, do all the things he asks, then reach a plateau where you think you are not getting better. You may actually feel worse for awhile. But if you do not drop out during those discouraging times, you will reach your maximum health potential. At this place, an occasional tuneup is all you will need to stay healthy, vibrant and feeling great.

To close, I would like to quote from Thomas Edison on the future of medicine.

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