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What Is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

By Sara Butler

A Chiropractic Adjustment

Chiropractic care and chiropractic treatment are well-known therapies available to people today. You’ve likely heard of a chiropractor or spinal manipulation therapy, but do you know how it all works? What happens during a chiropractic adjustment that leads to reduced pain and discomfort? What does a chiropractor do that allows you to walk into the clinic hunched over and walk out feeling better than ever?

The body is an amazing machine and has everything you need to get healthy and stay that way. Chiropractors are the medical professionals who help your body to function as it was meant to, and they accomplish this through hands-on chiropractic therapies that can help people achieve their health and wellness goals.

Here is what you need to know about how chiropractic adjustments work and the benefits regular chiropractic care has in store for you.

What Are Subluxations and Joint Dysfunctions?

The terms subluxation and joint dysfunction are heard quite a bit when discussing chiropractic. If you want to understand more about how chiropractic adjustments work, then you first need to understand what these two things are.

The spine is often understood to be a column of bones, the central support structure of the entire body. Chiropractors view the spine as a column of joints, with each bone playing a part to create fluid motion in the head, neck, and trunk of the body. If the motion in only one joint is somehow altered, or dysfunctional, it’s compensated for somewhere else, often leading to restriction of movement that can then lead to discomfort or even pain.

Subluxations occur when one of the bones in the spine, a vertebra, is not in the correct position aligned with the other vertebrae. This often leads to a loss of function or movement, which is often referred to as joint dysfunction. Subluxations can refer to the alignment or position of the joint while joint dysfunction refers to its functional movement.

How Does a Chiropractic Adjustment Treat Dysfunctions in the Body?

Subluxations and joint dysfunctions are very common, often leading to muscle tightness that can contribute to conditions that impact the neck and back.

Chiropractors seek out these subluxations and joint dysfunctions to correct them with a chiropractic adjustment, restoring full functionality and range of motion. Once corrected, the joint can move as it was intended to, reducing muscle tightness and allowing the other joints and muscles that were compensating for it to relax and function normally. This is why people experience so much relief after a chiropractic adjustment is performed.

What Does a Chiropractic Adjustment Consist Of?

Most people visit a chiropractor for the first time because they’re experiencing some type of pain. It could be neck pain, back pain, soft tissue pain, or simply general discomfort. Once the chiropractor consults with you to discuss what you’re experiencing, they complete an initial exam in which they attempt to target subluxations and joint dysfunctions and discuss a treatment plan with you.

If a chiropractic adjustment is determined to be right for you, the doctor -- technically, a doctor of chiropractic often referred to as a DC in the same way a medical doctor is called an MD -- will perform an adjustment.

The chiropractic adjustment is one of the manual therapies that chiropractors are trained to perform. This adjustment is sometimes called a spinal adjustment, spinal manipulation, or chiropractic manipulation. No matter what it is called, it is the application of manual pressure on the vertebrae in your spine that helps to restore motion in joints that may be positioned wrong or functioning in an abnormal way.

Pops and cracks can and do happen when the chiropractor is performing a chiropractic adjustment. This is perfectly normal and is simply gas released from the spaces around the joints. It’s the same effect as cracking your knuckles. These sounds aren’t an indication that the adjustment is being done right or working, it’s simply a byproduct of moving the joints around to their proper position.

Chiropractic adjustments aren’t invasive procedures and it’s rare for them to cause discomfort. You may feel tired or sore after an adjustment, but relaxation and relief are also often experienced. Any discomfort, comparable to a strenuous workout at the gym, typically dissipates within 24 hours.

What Is the Chiropractic Philosophy of Holistic and Integrative Care?

Chiropractic philosophy is at the heart of every treatment and chiropractic adjustment that chiropractors perform. Chiropractic is holistic and is meant to promote healing and wellness through a focus on spinal health. By focusing on spinal health, chiropractors believe that full body wellness can be achieved through a focus on the central nervous system, which links the entire body together. When the central nervous system is operating at its best, then optimal health for your whole body is sure to follow.

Chiropractic care is also considered integrative because it incorporates the health of the mind and body as the foundation of achieving peak health and wellness. With chiropractic, it’s not simply about your spine but about your entire body, mind, and spirit.

How Can Chiropractic Adjustments Integrate into the Rest of Your Medical Care?

Chiropractic adjustments work well with other medical care you may be receiving -- you do not have to choose one or the other. Combining chiropractic adjustments with other care can have great benefits to your overall health and wellness when compared to receiving medical care by itself. Plus, it’s a natural approach to wellness that addresses your health issues at their source, resulting in long-lasting recovery with limited to no harmful side effects. A simple way to look at it is that chiropractic focuses on fixing the root cause of your pain, but traditional medicine focuses on covering up (managing) the pain through medicine, which may run the risk of addiction to painkillers.

Now that you know a chiropractic adjustment is a non-invasive and natural technique that can be used to treat a variety of conditions, it’s time to experience an adjustment for yourself and discover how you can make it a part of your preventative healthcare plan. If you haven’t done so already, pay a visit to your local health care providers at The Joint Chiropractic in your area for a physical assessment and spinal adjustment to help you feel and perform your best.

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