Spinal manipulation – the forte of chiropractic treatment
Without a doubt, spinal manipulation is the most valued tool in the chiropractor’s arsenal. An adjustment or manipulation is a procedure by which a chiropractor uses one’s hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled force to a spinal joint. The goal of this procedure is to improve spinal motion and improve your body’s physical function.
Adjustments correct the function of hypo-mobile (‘stiff’ or ‘stuck’) joints caused by postural strain, compensation, stress, age, trauma, poor nutrition and abnormal development. Joint restrictions may result in painful episodes of back and neck-related syndromes. It is the job of the chiropractor to examine the spine (of which there are 33 vertebrae!), and to analyse its motion integrity to diagnose any joint restrictions which may be present. These lesions may only be detected by a diagnostic technique known as ‘motion palpation’. It is not possible to identify these functional lesions on X-rays or other imaging studies in the same way.
Why get adjusted?
Manipulation has various biomechanical and neurological benefits
As the adjustment is applied, it causes a separation and decompression of the spinal joints which breaks up fibrous adhesions, decreases muscle activity and increases the joint’s range of motion. Additionally, it activates fibroblasts (immune cells) which are critical for healing and repair!
Manipulation regulates the balance within the autonomic nervous system. In other words, it promotes a balance between your sympathetic state – which is your fight and flight response – and your parasympathetic state – which is your rest and digest state. It also activates certain neurological pathways to promote pain modulation and drive neoplastic changes within the brain.
Crack! The relieving sound of an adjustment (spinal manipulation) is often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of visiting a Chiropractor.
What causes the crack?
Contrary to popular belief, the ‘cracking’ sound is not caused by bones moving around or being ‘put into place’, but rather due to a physical phenomenon called cavitation:
Your joints are surrounded and nourished by a special liquid called synovial fluid. As with any fluid, it contains chemicals such as nitrogen and oxygen. When you’re stretched during an adjustment, pressure differences are created inside the joint which causes these chemicals to convert from a liquid to a gas. As a result, gas cavities are created within the joint and create a popping sound.
Something to note:the popping sound does not indicate the quality of the adjustment – joint movement may still occur without the presence of a cavitation.
How can I enhance treatment outcomes?
Multiple studies have concluded that spinal manipulation is safe and effective when performed by a trained specialist. Chiropractic care is an excellent treatment option for any mechanical back and neck-related issues. Following the rationale of prevention over cure, regular chiropractic care is a great way to maintain optimal functioning and to prevent injury.
In order to achieve the best possible outcome for your treatment, it is imperative that you follow a suitable treatment plan with regards to rate and frequency of visits to your chiro. In addition to treatment, a homecare program consisting of rehabilitative exercises, as well as postural correction will enhance and prolong the effects of spinal manipulation.