Have you seen a few chiropractors over your lifetime? If you have, chances are that your experience with each one was quite different. Just like visits to a physician, physiotherapist, naturopath, midwife, etc., every chiropractic practice differs depending on that professional’s personality, specialty, and population they treat. For instance, if you saw a chiropractor who specializes in treating athletes and then one that primarily treats older adults, your experience would be quite different!
Our training and profession bring us together in one area: adjusting the spine.
SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ADJUSTMENT?
An adjustment is a highly skilled, high velocity (fast), low amplitude (small and gentle) thrust to a restricted joint. Check out the link for details.
DIFFERENT STYLES, ONE PURPOSE
Chiropractic literally means “done by hand”, so most adjustments are … done by hand! Chiropractors train for years to fine-tune their palpation skills, so that they can feel which joint, and in which direction, a joint may be restricted in motion and alignment. They then adjust that joint to restore normal, physiological motion and function. This is often done by using their hands or a drop table, or there are some instruments which can be used as well. You may have experienced the Activator or electronic Impulse instrument.
WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT A JOINT RESTRICTION?
As a result of the stresses and strains of injury, poor posture, or just daily living, the joints in our spine stop moving the way they should and become restricted. Think about this: All of our joints are designed to MOVE. If we have 26 movable bones in our spine, (7 in the neck, 12 in the upper back, 5 in the low back, the sacrum and the coccyx), and, for example, 4 are not moving correctly, does it make sense that that is not optimal and there is going to be a change in stress and strain throughout the spine?
This is what happens when a spinal joint stops moving correctly:
- Decreased range of motion to the joint and through the spine
- Increased strain on the joints that are moving
- Decreased blood supply and nutrition to the joint
- Altered “mechanoreceptor” function – mechanoreceptors are the little nerves which tell your brain how each joint is moving and how tight or loose each muscle is
- Increased muscle contraction
- Increased tissue adhesions, meaning that there is a “stickiness” between the layers of muscle and tissue which further impedes motion and function
- Increased inflammation, which increases pain (ouch!)
- Increased rate of degeneration, leading to osteoarthritis
- Decreased neurological function of the spinal nerve at that level. This means that the nerve, whose job it is to carry all messages back and forth to our organs and muscles, becomes sluggish.
HOW DOES AN ADJUSTMENT HELP?
Well, it basically fixes all of that stuff we just mentioned!
After an adjustment, you have:
- Normal joint motion
- Increased range of motion
- Increased blood flow and nutrition to the joint
- Normal function of our mechanoreceptors – it’s probably a good thing for our brain to have accurate information about what our joints and muscles are doing!
- Decreased pain and inflammation
- Less tissue adhesions
- Stimulated, active muscles
- Normal spinal nerve function to our muscles, joints and organs
That’s super cool! And what’s even better, is that we can improve many conditions with an adjustment.
- Back pain, neck pain, headaches
- Jaw/TMJ pain
- Shoulder/Elbow/Wrist conditions
- Hip/Knee/Ankle conditions
- Ear Infections
- Pre-post Natal health
- Any many more…
As a natural healthcare provider, I often wonder what would happen if you took all the benefits of a Chiropractic adjustment and put it in a pill form. Then, let the marketing power of the pharmaceutical industry go crazy with it. My guess is that they would profit millions (more then usual) and that most of us would have a Chiropractic adjustment on a regular basis!!
I hope this helps you understand why Chiropractors adjust the spine. As always, we are happy to answer any questions you may have. just send us an email or give us a call any time. firstname.lastname@example.org / 705-741-5700.
Until next time.
Dr. Brad Wild