What is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

chiropractic adjustmentAdjustments: The Chiropractic Difference

The primary method of treatment for a chiropractic physician is a procedure called an “Adjustment” or manipulation.

The chiropractic adjustment is a small controlled thrust into the joints of the spinal bones (vertebra) or joints of the arms or legs, that have restricted movement. The purpose is to restore the normal range of motion, reducing the irritation of the related nerves and improving the function of the joints.

Chiropractic Adjustment Description

There are many different methods of chiropractic adjustments; within the profession we refer to them as techniques. When talking about chiropractic adjustments, most people have experienced or heard of the treatment that “cracks your back.” While there may be a popping sound with and adjustment, we are not “cracking bones.” The popping sound is called joint cavitation and is caused by a release of gas bubbles in the joint.

This joint cavitation or cracking does not happen every time. There may be muscles spasms present, the patient may not relax sufficiently during the adjustment or the chiropractic physician may not use a technique that produces the popping sound. The key points is: don’t judge the quality of your adjustment my the amount of “popping” you hear.

Additionally, many chiropractic techniques can be used that you will not hear or feel a “popping” sound.  In our office we primarily use a technique that is referred to as Thompson Technique (after the developer) or also called drop work. This technique uses the table or bed to magnify the force without the need to deliver a hard thrust. With this technique you will not experience the popping or cracking of the other methods, but you will experience the same sense of relief.

Side Effects Of An Adjustments

The most common “side effect” of a chiropractic adjustment is a soreness: similar to what you feel after you have worked out. If it happens, this response typically happens within the first few hours after the adjustment.  In our experience, this may happen about 10-15% of the time after the first 1-2 adjustments. Most patients find that using ice or heat help to relieve this soreness.

In past times, there has been media attention to the alleged problem of chiropractic manipulation causing strokes. The research demonstrates that “stroke and other serious complications occurred about 1.46 times per one million neck manipulations.1”

Compare this to surgery on the neck, one study published June 1, 2013 in the Journal Spine indicated that the mortality rate was 0.6 per 1000 and complications were 17.4 per 1,000 patients. (2)  To make sure we are comparing “apples to apples,” this would mean in one million neck surgeries, 600 patients die. While 1.46 suffer a stroke from neck adjustments.

If you are considering chiropractic care, we encourage you to check out our office. Dr Schmaltz is a 1984 graduate of Life Chiropractic College and he has years of experience helping people improve their lifestyle.  Call our office at (314) 731-4383 or CLICK TO CALL NOW to schedule a talk with Dr. Schmaltz

(1) Coulter ID, Hurwitz EL, Adams AH, et al. The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine. Santa Monica, CA; RAND; 1996.
(2) https://www.news-medical.net/news/20130613/Complications-and-death-rates-for-cervical-spine-surgery-are-higher-at-teaching-hospitals.aspx