A chiropractic adjustment is a procedure in which trained specialists (chiropractic doctors) use their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled force to a spinal joint. The goal of a chiropractic adjustment is to improve spinal motion, spinal alignment, improve nerve flow, which in turn improves your body’s overall function.
Why Are Chiropractic Adjustments Performed?
Chiropractors perform adjustments to reduce the effects of a condition known as Vertebral Subluxation. Vertebral Subluxation occurs when a spinal bone loses its proper position and motion, altering the flow of vital information over the nervous system. Information transfer over the nervous system is vital to proper internal function. The chiropractic adjustment improves spinal alignment, spinal motion, and allows for better nerve function, all of which improve the person’s overall health.
The chiropractic adjustment is safe when performed by someone trained (DC degree) and licensed (has passed National and State Boards to practice) to deliver chiropractic care. Adverse reactions associated with chiropractic adjustments are exceedingly rare; the most common normal adverse effect from a chiropractic adjustment is muscle soreness. Much like working out hard the day before, and being sore the following day, in a minority of cases, chiropractic adjustments can elicit that type of muscular response. Drinking plenty of water after your adjustment will help mitigate this type of response to the adjustment.
If you have these:
Don’t let that stop you from seeking chiropractic care; just let your chiropractic doctor know about these and other things you are experiencing during your initial consultation:
- Severe osteoporosis – there are methods available that allow the chiropractor to adjust people with osteoporosis. Make sure to tell your chiropractic doctor about your condition.
- Numbness, tingling, or loss of strength in an arm or leg – This may or may not be a disc issue. Having a disc issue does not preclude you from receiving and benefiting from chiropractic care. Many people seek chiropractic care for this particular reason.
- An increased risk of stroke – Although there is heightened concern in the public arena about stroke and chiropractic adjustments, the research does not support a causative link between chiropractic adjustments and stroke. Having said that, it is always wise to let your chiropractic doctor know of this concern prior to being adjusted. This will allow him or her to proceed with your concerns and safety in mind.
- A known bone abnormality in the upper neck – most chiropractic doctors will take x-rays to evaluate the spinal structure and determine whether an area is safe or not safe to adjust. X-rays can also help determine the best spinal bone to adjust and the best method to adjust it.
How to Prepare For an Adjustment
No special preparation is required before a chiropractic adjustment.
What You Can Expect
At your initial visit, your chiropractor will ask many questions about your health history and any current concerns. He will then perform a chiropractic evaluation of your spine and nervous system. Your chiropractor may also recommend other examinations or tests, such as X-rays.
During the Procedure
During a typical chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor places you in specific positions to adjust the areas that are determined to be Subluxated. Often, you are positioned lying face down on a specially designed, padded chiropractic table. The chiropractor uses his or her hands, or a specifically designed handheld instrument, to apply a controlled force to the subluxated spinal joint. The intention of the spinal adjustment is to reduce the effects of the Vertebral Subluxation (misalignment, lack of motion, nerve interference). You may hear a popping sound as your chiropractor adjusts you, but not all techniques result in this type of audible sound. The sound is incidental and is not an indication of how good the adjustment was.
After the Procedure
Some people may experience minor side effects the day after a chiropractic adjustment. These are rare but can include a headache or muscular discomfort due to the lactic acid build-up, much like after a workout.
The results of a chiropractic adjustment are better spinal motion and position, a reduction in the interference to the transmission of vital nerve messages over the nervous system, which all lead to improved function and health.