What Actually Happens During a Chiropractic Adjustment?
Bones popping. Joints cracking. All sorts of crazy noises are happening. The chiropractic adjustment is something that draws both intrigue and skepticism the world over. Some people can’t imagine their joints doing something like that. Some people seek out videos of chiropractic adjustments to fulfill their need of hearing those noises.
But what the heck is actually going on when someone gets adjusted?
“My back is out. I just need someone to put it back in.”
“I just need a good crack!“
These are common things that we hear from patients. Sometimes we, as chiropractors will humor them. But saying that something is out of place, and we are putting it back in is neither correct nor physiologically possible. A vast network of muscles and ligaments surrounds each bone in our spine. To act like bones are moving around with no regard for the tissues around them is false.
So what is happening?
Rather than putting bones that are out back in, most of the therapeutic benefit of an adjustment comes from the gapping of the joints of the spine that occurs during an adjustment.
A study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics looked at changes in the spine pre and post adjustment using an MRI. After an adjustment, the gapping effect was seen on an MRI and the patients reported a decrease in pain. Therefore, most of the therapeutic benefit of the adjustment can likely be attributed to the gapping of the joints, and the improved motion of the joint created by the gapping effect.
Another result of the chiropractic adjustment occurs within the nervous system itself. The body creates a huge neurological response to a chiropractic adjustment. The adjustment activates receptors called mechanoreceptors that sense movement in the joints. These receptors communicate to the brain that something just happened to the body, and the brain formulates the proper response to what just happened. Some neurological changes that we see after an adjustment are:
- An activation, then the relaxation of muscles in the area
- A dampening of pain receptor activity
- A dampening of the pain signal within the brain and spinal cord
- Decreased sympathetic input to the Central Nervous System (decreased stress signal)
- Increased anti-oxidant production
- Increased cerebellar activity (improvement in fine motor skills)
So, as you can see, the effects of the chiropractic adjustment can reach far beyond simply the improvement of range of motion, and improvement in pain.
If you’ve never given chiropractic care a try, I would urge you to seek out a good chiropractor in your area. I have access to a vast network of chiropractors across the globe and would be happy to help you in your search.
If you are in the Wichita, KS area give us a call at 316-685-4965. We understand the frustration that pain can cause, and we provide high-quality, affordable chiropractic care to help our patients thrive at home, work, and play.
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