Definition and Overview

Chiropractic adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, is a procedure performed by professional chiropractors by applying controlled force to the joints of the spine. This procedure is performed to correct the alignment of the spinal joints to improve the body's functions and treat chronic pain particularly back pain.

A chiropractic clinic is the best place to visit for patients who wish to improve their posture, minimize pain in the neck and back, and improve other body functions that are affected by the spinal joints. As defined by the International Chiropractor's Association, the spinal adjustment procedure is singular and unique to their profession because of the use of a forceful and sudden thrust to the vertebra. This force allows the chiropractor to correct a problematic position in the vertebra and manipulate the joints so they will function better.

Chiropractors believe that the structure of the human body is closely intertwined with healthy function. If bones, muscles, nerves, and joints are not properly aligned, a patient can suffer from various health issues and problems. Thus, chiropractic treatment such as spinal adjustment can promote balance in the body's structure, and allow the body to heal itself.

Who should undergo and expected results

Patients suffering from various health issues can benefit from chiropractic adjustment. Individuals who are complaining of headaches, back and neck pain, joint pain, arthritis, ear infections and pain, abnormal blood pressure, scoliosis, problematic organ functions, or asthma are the best candidates for this procedure. Even pregnant women can undergo the treatment to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Essentially, a patient can undergo chiropractic adjustment if there is a misaligned vertebra, which could be caused by falling or slipping. This issue in the vertebra is known as a macrotrauma. A lifetime of poor posture can also cause the whole spine to misalign. This treatment can also be recommended for people suffering from a swollen intervertebral joint, an inflammation in the body caused by an unhealthy diet with insufficient vitamins, minerals, or water, symptoms arising from psychological stress, and degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs or spin such as osteoporosis, and tightness in the back muscles that affect the vertebra.

Depending on the type of chiropractic method performed, the effects can vary widely. In general, chiropractic adjustment can directly address and reduce muscle stress and tension. Patients report a significant decrease in pain in the head, back, and neck, as well as the limbs. Research shows that chiropractic adjustment can also lead to temporary relief from muscular and skeletal pain, increased mobility and range of joint movement, improved pain tolerance, and increased muscle strength.

How the procedure works

The field of chiropractic, which is focused on treating neuromuscular disorders and maintaining spinal health, is extremely broad, and many practitioners have developed their own techniques in performing the procedure. In general, a chiropractic adjustment procedure involves a high-velocity thrust applied to one of the vertebrae using a short lever arm. This movement will lead to the release of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen from the joint cavities. After the spinal manipulation is performed, the patient will feel minor discomfort accompanied by a sensation of relief.

Other chiropractic adjustment techniques include the following:

  • Side posture. Also known as the lumbar roll, the chiropractor applies a fast and precise thrust to the misaligned vertebra to correct its position while the patient lies on one side.
  • Toggle drop. A popular technique, the toggle drop involves the use of crossed hands to press firmly on a specific part of the spine. These crossed hands will deliver a fast and precise thrust to adjust the spine and improve the movement of the vertebral joints.
  • Table adjustment. With this technique, the patient lies on a special table with adjustable sections. As one section drops, the chiropractor will deliver the thrust to perform a comparatively lighter adjustment.
  • Release work. This technique does not involve a quick and precise thrust like other treatment techniques. Instead, the chiropractor uses his or her fingertips to apply gentle pressure on the vertebrae to separate them.
  • Manipulation under anaesthesia. This technique can only be performed in a hospital outpatient department, and when the patient is not responding to other traditional chiropractic techniques.
  • Instrument adjustments. This is known as one of the gentlest methods of spinal adjustment. During the procedure, the patient lies on the table while the chiropractor employs a spring-loaded activator instrument to adjust the spine.

Possible risks and complications

According to the World Health Organization, chiropractic adjustment is safe and effective even for pregnant women, as long as it is performed by a skilled and certified professional. It can be used to prevent and manage a variety of health issues. While complications are rare, some patients suffer from spinal disc herniation, stroke, cauda equina syndrome, and fractures in the vertebra and ribs.



References:

  • Rindfleisch JA, Early B. Neck pain. In: Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap.

  • Rubinstein SM, van Middelkoop M, Assendelft WJ, de Boer MR, van Tulder MW. Spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low-back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Feb 16;(2):CD008112.

  • Chou R, Loeser JD, Owens DK, Rosenquist RW, et al; American Pain Society Low Back Pain Guideline Panel. Interventional therapies, surgery, and interdisciplinary rehabilitation for low back pain: an evidence-based clinical practice guideline from the American Pain Society. Spine. 2009;34(10):1066-77.

  • Walker BF, French SD, Grant W, Green S. Combined chiropractic interventions for low-back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(4). Review.

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