Do Chiropractors Actually Adjust Anything?
An adjustment to your spine is a common chiropractic treatment to relieve the pain, increase mobility, and help you recover from the injury. Chiropractic professionals are often referred to as “neck and back crackers” and most people consider spinal adjustments as “moving the displaced spine back into position”.
Why most people might think this way is due to the case that spinal adjustments often involve a “cracking” or “popping” sound. It usually feels like a displaced bone is “repositioned back into place”.
In reality, that’s not the case.
So, what exactly do chiropractors do? Do they actually adjust anything?
Spinal adjustments are primarily intended to promote movement. An injury, wrong posture, stress, trauma, or any form of overload on your body can be primary reasons for your reduced spinal movement.
Therefore, a Chiropractic will assess the patient as a whole – considering his/her posture, spinal motions, muscle imbalances, joint movements, and functional movements. The assessment will also involve finding out the exact location where the spine needs to be adjusted. Once it is finalized, a low amplitude and high velocity – but very controlled push – to the spine is given to cause the joint to move. Oftentimes, this sudden thrust is followed by cavitation – also known as “cracking” and “popping” sound.
Your bones aren’t cracking at that sound. A sudden movement of the joint causes the release of gas in the joint. Because of the sudden pressure difference caused by quick spinal adjustment, synovial fluid in the spinal joints produces gas (nitrogen) and releases it into the joint space. This is similar to opening a soda can. In turn, your nervous system is stimulated to reduce the pain signals that originate from your joints.
Here’s How Chiropractic Care Works
Restriction in the joint movement secondary to trauma or disease leads to interruption of the joint signals towards the brain. These signals are interpreted by the brain as pain signals and it starts delivering a pain response.
A chiropractic adjustment releases restricted joint movement by adjusting the spine. The result is that pain signals from the joints are reduced and receptors within the joints are facilitated. The reduction of pain is consequent to the reduction of pain signals from the joint. By removing pain signals from joints and surrounding structures, the spinal adjustment tricks the nervous system into thinking everything is fine.
A chiropractor’s movements are feared because they are considered dangerous. However, chiropractic treatment DOES NOT “move joints into place”, yet remove the joint restriction and facilitate joint mobility to relieve pain, stimulate the nervous system, and restore the range of motion.
Furthermore, there are various types of adjustments. Most chiropractors use manual stimulation using their hands while others may also use other tools for assistance such as drop piece table and activator. However, chiropractors use these instruments to target the same areas and achieve the same outcome – reduction in pain through stimulation of the nervous system and facilitation of joint movement.
Does Chiropractic Work?
In the United States, chiropractic therapy is the most commonly used treatment for back pain, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Statistics show that an estimated 64% percent of Americans have used alternative therapies such as chiropractic care to relieve back pain and enhance spine mobility.
According to a 2010 study, spinal manipulation by chiropractors may be useful for treating conditions affecting neck and back, such as neck and back pain, whiplash injuries, and migraine headaches. Chiropractors cannot treat all types of injuries, though. You should consult a licensed chiropractor who will perform sessions that are tailored to your condition and needs.