The human body is made up of not one, but three nerve systems. Although, by category, these three nerve systems are separate, actually they are interdependent and interrelated. In order for the body to function properly, it takes all three nerve systems functioning properly, unobstructed and in harmony.
At any given moment, millions of bits of “information” from the sight and hearing enter your nerve system and must be analyzed to determine an appropriate response. About 99.9 per cent is discarded as “unimportant” at the moment. While all this is going on, all of the other senses are active, too, bombarding the nerve system and demanding a response. At the same time the body’s many organs and functions must be tirelessly monitored, directed and unified. This is all accomplished by the integration of the body’s three nerve systems. The following is a description of each.
The Central Nerve System (CNS) [yellow] is composed of the brain and spinal cord. Impulses originating in the brain are sent to various parts of the body via the spinal cord. The brain is protected and encased by the bones of the skull, while the spinal cord is protected and encased by the 24 individual and movable bones of the spine called the vertebrae.
The spinal cord is a direct downward continuation of the brain stem that starts at the upper border of the uppermost vertebra (called the atlas), and ends at the lower border of the first lumbar vertebrae.
The Peripheral Nerve System (PNS) [blue, green, red, orange] is basically an extension of the Central Nerve System described above. The Peripheral Nerve System connects the Central Nerve System with all the tissues of the body. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves exit the spine and form a very complex network of nerves reaching out to every part of the body. Messages or signals are thus relayed from the tissues of the body back to the brain and vice versa. Chiropractic’s unique clinical concern is the unobstructed transmission of these nerve signals as they travel back and forth from the brain to the tissues of the body.
The Autonomic Nerve System (ANS) [not shown], also known as the “involuntary” nerve system controls activities of the body unconsciously. The Autonomic Nerve System includes all the nerve cells, or neurons, located outside the spinal cord and the brain stem.
The ANS itself is divided into two separate entities: the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic divisions. The Sympathetic division sends impulses that speed up or enhance (as in running) whereas the parasympathetic slows down (digestion). These two systems combined regulate the majority of the body’s involuntary functions. Examples of involuntary control are the heart rate, respiration, blood circulation and digestion.
The Doctor of Chiropractic works with all three nerve systems to bring about a positive change in the body. Spinal malfunction can cause irritation in the spine adversely affecting any or all three nerve systems, a condition chiropractors refer to as the Vertebral Subluxation. A properly administered chiropractic adjustment can eliminate or reduce the Vertebral Subluxation Complex, thus restoring normal nerve flow and creating a healthier nerve system.