Vertebral subluxation is a catch-all term used by chiropractors to describe spinal abnormalities. Some chiropractors subscribe to the original definition and application of the term, which was put forth by chiropractics founder D.D. Palmer in 1895: Misalignment within the vertebrae and other joints of the body are directly responsible for all disease.

Many chiropractors choose to focus on the relationship between spinal nerve compression and the development of neck and back pain. Either way, the nerve structure within the spine plays a major role in diagnosis.