Joint manipulation, which is sometimes referred to as an adjustment, has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for pain and injury. Chiropractors perform 95 percent of all manipulations in the world. These procedures are performed by applying gentle, yet firm pressure to a bone. The primary goals of any manipulation is dependent on the patient’s presentation and condition. This can be to restore the bone to its original position, reduce pain and muscle spasm from joint impingement, or to increase range of motion. The important thing to remember is the act frees-not forces-a vertebra to allow it to find its natural position.
Joint manipulative procedures are performed to treat a wide variety of conditions, including (but not limited to):
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain disorders
- Chronic muscle pain and stiffness
- Most musculoskeletal and sports-related injuries
- Nerve disorders
- Pain and stiffness in the back, chest, abdomen, neck, hips and shoulders, as well as extremities, such as arms, legs, and feet
- Sciatica pain
- Whiplash and other traumatic injuries
Some common techniques include:
- Instrument adjustments, which involve a spring-loaded device.
- Lumbar roll, in which the chiropractor applies a firm, yet quick thrust to a misaligned vertebra while the patient lies on his or her side.
- Motion palpation, a hand technique the chiropractor uses to determine if your vertebrae are properly aligned.
- Release work, in which the chiropractor uses gentle pressure with the fingers to separate the vertebrae.
- Table adjustments, which entail lying on a specially designed table that drops when pressure is applied to a specific area. The dropping motion allows more gentle adjustments than some manual adjustments do.
- Toggle drop, which entails firm pressure applied on a specific area of the spine by using crossed hands.
Chiropractors take many factors-including size, weight, and muscle structure-into consideration when deciding on which technique to use. Sometimes, ice, electrical stimulation, or massage therapy (including traction massage) are used prior to a spinal manipulation in order to relax the muscles. In some cases, it may necessary to perform a manipulation while you are sedated.
Joint manipulation almost always does not involve any pain or discomfort. The important thing for a patient to keep in mind is to remain relaxed, because stiffening up may impede the process. Popping sounds are sometimes heard during the procedure and these are usually pockets of air being released behind a joint or other bony structure.
Joint manipulation can leave you with a greater sense of well-being, calm, and most importantly, on the road to a life without pain. Following the procedure, some patients experience mild aching or soreness in their spinal joints or muscles, which can usually be relieved by an ice or heat pack. Manipulation has been shown to:
- Increase blood flow
- Increase pain tolerance levels
- Increase range of motion
- Increase the body’s secretion of “good” chemicals, such as melatonin and endorphins
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce tension and muscle pressure