Doctors of chiropractic are extensively educated in the assessment and management of conditions affecting the spinal and extremity joints and associated neurology, and based on examination findings and indication for care, the chiropractor will recommend a short course of care to help relieve pain and improve function. Chiropractic care involves spinal adjustment or extremity manipulation and may include mobilization, muscle stretching and soft tissue therapy, along with exercise, the use of modalities (i.e. traction, ultrasound or laser) and rehabilitation and active care. Chiropractors are also trained to provide a recommendation for injury prevention strategies.
The chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a manual procedure applying a force, sometimes mild, sometimes firm, directed to one or more dysfunctional hypomobile joint segments, and is a procedure that requires highly refined skills developed during the doctor’s intensive years of chiropractic education. The adjustive procedures and techniques are precise and controlled and designed to introduce motion into a dysfunctional joint.
The patient is positioned on a specifically-designed adjusting table, chair, or other specialized equipment. The doctor typically uses his or her hands, or an instrument, to then skillfully apply a controlled force directing motion into the joints of the body in order to restore proper alignment or movement within the normal ranges of motion. Particular attention is directed to the areas of the spine where vertebral joint dysfunction has been detected. The adjustment often helps restore joint mobility and function, resolves joint inflammation and reduces the patient’s pain.
Adjustment or manipulation of a joint may be accompanied by an audible popping sound. The noise is a result of a change of pressure within the joint, as part of the application of the adjustment, and is caused by dispersion of microscopic gas bubbles within the joint. This is a natural occurrence and is similar to one cracking the knuckles.
The chiropractor adapts the adjustive technique and procedure to address the age, condition, and specific needs of each patient. Patients often note positive changes in their symptoms immediately following care. The chiropractic adjustment rarely causes discomfort.