The Chiropractic Adjustment
Chiropractors use their hands to position your body in a manner that allows the joints in your spine or extremities to move. The adjustment is a high velocity, low amplitude thrust, which is a quick movement with very little strain placed on the spinal joint. After an injury or prolonged use of improper postures, the joints of the spine can become stuck, or fixated, preventing proper movement. The adjustment helps to release these restrictions by quickly gapping the joint, creating a negative pressure which can result in the typically “crack or pop” that you may hear during the manipulation. With movement restored to the joint, the spine can begin to return to normal function.
Unfortunately, the muscles around the spine can also affect the joints. Abnormal muscle function (either weak or tight) can disrupt the mechanics of the spinal joints and reduce the effectiveness of the adjustment. This is why it is common to see a Chiropractor a few times before the problem is fully resolved.
Many people are afraid of the sound associated with Chiropractic adjustments, but this sound is just a harmless by-product. When the joint is stretched during the adjustment, a negative pressure is created, causing a rush of dissolved gases through the joint capsule. The resulting sound is the body’s way of dissipating the energy generated during this process. This sound is not an indication of a successful adjustment, and many adjustments never make a noise. It’s just a matter of how much gas is in your joints at the time.
There has been some concern recently with the safety of neck manipulation. There are a few isolated cases of individuals having a stroke after an adjustment. Research has shown that the odds of this happening are very low and most estimates suggest one in every 1-2 million neck adjustments (You are about 10x more likely to be struck by lightning!). Current research suggests that patients who experience a stroke most likely came into the office already actively having a stroke. Chiropractors are properly trained to screen patients to determine if they are having a stroke and the likelihood of having an adverse reaction to neck adjusting. If you would still prefer not to have your neck adjusted, other techniques can be used to achieve a similar result with no risk of injury.