INTRODUCTION: This discussion seeks to highlight the many terms that have been used in the literature and other sources relating to elements of a Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC) and the manual healing sciences, particularly chiropractic.
BACKGROUND: The term VSC is considered here as the most appropriate of the designations in general use, as it encompasses other identified components, not just a vertebral subluxation (displacement). However, despite alluding to this apparent and common clinical entity, no single term has been unanimously adopted to represent the VSC.
METHOD: The variety and frequency of terms and expressions identifying with a vertebral subluxation and spinal manipulation, became apparent while reading research papers for other purposes. As appended, tables have been devised to categorise key components of the VSC.
REVIEW: Papers from all the health professions which encompass spinal manipulation to varying degrees, are cited. These include chiropractic, osteopathy, medicine and physiotherapy references. All have developed a variety of terms identifying this physical biological entity, and for the procedure used to address it. Authors have devised this wide variety of terms to designate essentially the same clinical finding of a subluxation, or elements of it. Unanimous acceptance of the VSC premise still seems somewhat limited.
DISCUSSION. It is astounding to find over 500 terms relating to aspects of the same clinical entity. One would be challenged to find any other entity that attracts even just 10% of that number of similes - especially a biological one. Many authors from the range of professions seem to have staked a claim in naming this clinical finding, yet universal recognition and acceptance of a single term seems to be slow to materialise. Despite such a proliferation of terms in the literature referring to this clinical finding, one would expect it to be more readily recognised and incorporated into standard textbooks.
CONCLUSION. To attract so many terms for the same entity should emphasise its importance in health care. However, it is perplexing in that so many terms tend to dilute the significance of such a common and clinically important finding.
Author keywords: Medical Terminology
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