A chiropractic adjustment may also go by the name spinal manipulation, although this latter term can be misleading. While many, if not most, chiropractic adjustments are performed on the spine, they can be performed in other areas of the body as well. Another name for a chiropractic treatment is a Grade 5 mobilization, so called because it involves a sudden, controlled force applied to the joint by the hands of the practitioner. Doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to perform Grade 5 mobilization, but they are not the only ones. Osteopathic physicians are similarly trained and licensed, as are some physical therapists. To prevent injury, you should never receive a spinal or joint manipulation from someone who is not specifically licensed and trained to do so.
What Is a Chiropractic Adjustment?
The goal of a chiropractic adjustment is to relieve pain by correcting a malalignment, also called a subluxation, of a joint. In a chiropractic context, a subluxation refers to slight position changes in the joint in subtle gradations. These subtle changes may also cause problems in the soft tissues in or near the joint.
A chiropractor uses his or her hands to realign the joints back into proper position, which is why chiropractic treatment is known as manual therapy. The adjustment involves a quick, directional thrust.
Doctors of chiropractic may sometimes be referred to as “back crackers.” The reason is that the chiropractic adjustments upon which their practice is based is often accompanied by a loud cracking or popping sound. You may think that sound is caused by the joint shifting quickly back into normal alignment, but that is rarely, if ever, the case. Many of the joints of your body contain synovial fluid in which bubbles of gases sometimes form. A chiropractic adjustment can cause these bubbles to break and the gas to escape, which accounts for the popping or cracking sound.
While your pain may improve after only one adjustment, several may be required for you to experience the full effects of the treatment.
Is Chiropractic Adjustment Safe?
Generally speaking, chiropractic adjustment is considered safe when performed by a licensed practitioner. However, as with any medical treatment, there are risks involved. If you have spinal cancer, increased stroke risk, numbness or tingling in one or more limbs, severe osteoporosis, or a known bone abnormality in your upper neck, you should not seek chiropractic adjustment because the risk is too great.
Does Chiropractic Adjustment Work?
Studies have shown that chiropractic treatment is effective at providing mild-to-moderate pain relief in patients with low back complaints. High-quality evidence demonstrates that when compared with treatment modalities like pain relievers or heating pads, chiropractic treatment yields similar results. Contact an office for more information.