Chiropractor Paula Moore is great believer in prevention being better than cure.

But the nature of her job means most of the people she sees are already suffering problems and need help.

She is now working to try and encourage people to have regular checks on their spine so that, in time, it becomes as commonplace as going to the dentist every six months.

When a person starts to experience stiffness and pain in their back, it is usually symptom of something that has been going wrong for some time.

Dr Moore can work on correcting the problem but it can be difficult to predict whether it will come back again.

To address this scenario and others, Dr Moore and her partners at Goldstone Family Chiropractic Centre in Hove can use a state-ofthe-art machine bought in the US by the centre's owner Cornelia Nicholas.

The mobile machine, called a Subluxation Station, is able to detect minute misalignments in the vertebrae of the spine that could lead to long-term problems.

The adult spine is made up of 26 vertebrae and when any of these are in an abnormal position, it restricts movement.

The longer your ability to move is restricted, the more stress is placed on other areas of the body, which in turn leads to decaying process.

A simple analogy is to imagine the spine is similar to the front of a car when that is out of alignment, it limits the movement of the tyres, causing uneven wear and tear on certain areas.

The same can happen when the vertebrae are misaligned it causes wear and tear that, at first, is hardly noticed but then has an impact on the muscles and, eventually, the central nervous system.

As a result, your body can be malfunctioning for months, even years, before you experience symptoms.

Dr Moore said: "Symptoms are the end result of a long process so it is vital to monitor the function of the central nervous system down the spine before those symptoms occur.

"We are especially keen to target children as they are susceptible to problems as they grow and develop."

The machine is able to carry out different tests that are completely non-invasive, safe and painless and help the chiropractor characterise any abnormal activity surrounding the spine that cannot be detected on an X-ray.

The tests involve rolling a scanner down the patient's spine or attaching monitors to the skin and muscle around the same area.

They look at the amount of electrical current in the muscles and the skin temperature along the spine.

Muscles are controlled by nerves and the machine can measure how well they are working by reading the amount of current found in the muscles.

If there are any misalignments in the spine, there will be an abnormal amount of electrical current.

Blood vessels are controlled by the same part of the central nervous system that runs the organs and glands.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and the blood vessels under the skin work as the body's thermostat by expanding and contracting to release and retain heat.

If your body temperature is 98.6F, the left and right sides of the spine should also be the same temperature.

When the communication between the nervous system and the blood vessels is disturbed by problems with the spine, an imbalanced temperature reading is found along the spine.

The machine also produces a printout which shows clearly where problems are developing.

Dr Moore said: "People find this extemely useful because it is a clear, visual aid that explains what is going wrong.

We can also use it to check the treatment we are giving is having the right effect.

"Just because a person is not feeling pain, does not mean there is nothing wrong.

Using a machine like this helps demonstrate that. It is going to be extremely useful in the future."