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Understanding Chiropractic Lingo

By Debra Rodzinak

For those with back pain, a first visit to the chiropractor can seem confusing. Terms like subluxation, or knowing the difference between an adjustment and manipulation, can seem overwhelming. Here's a short primer on a couple of primary terms in the field.

A spinal manipulation, also known as a chiropractic adjustment, is the most common treatment used by chiropractors for lower back pain. By applying gentle pressure and manipulation to the vertebrae of the spine, chiropractors can realign a spine that has suffered trauma and bring relief to many patients who are suffering with pain. 


Subluxation is the misalignment of the spinal vertebrae. When a spine fails to “function normally,” a chiropractic treatment can allow the vertebrae to fall back into place which allows the patient to feel relief from pain that occurs in the back or other areas of the body. The main goal of chiropractic is to restore overall health to a patient by focusing on the spinal column and surrounding muscles of the spine. 

Chiropractic Adjustments 

During a chiropractic adjustment, a patient may experience:

  • A high-velocity, short-lever arm thrust applied to the spinal vertebra
  • A popping sound (joint cavitation) caused by the release of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide that is trapped in the joint
  • A sense of relief once the pressure is released
  • Minor discomfort that lasts for a short time if the surrounding muscles are in spasm

Many times, a chiropractor will have the patient apply ice to the affected area after treatment. 

Chiropractor Skill

Chiropractic techniques are varied and performed differently by each doctor. Just as two artists never paint the same picture, no two chiropractors perform adjustments or manipulations the exact same way on every single patient.  There is a “certain skill level” or “art” involved with manipulations or adjustments. A skilled chiropractor knows when and how to find relief for each patient.

After Treatment

After the pressure is released or muscles are relaxed during a treatment, soreness in the joints or muscles is common. The best treatment for this is applying ice to the area that is sore. This soreness does not usually last more than a day.  Occasionally, the alternation of ice and heat is also recommended. Ice should not be applied directly to the skin.

Patients who are seeking relief from spinal subluxation can walk into The Joint for a consultation, evaluation, and treatment.  With many convenient locations and extended hours on weekdays and on the weekends, patients find that The Joint fits into their busy schedules. If you are seeking a drug-free, natural way to relieve pain in your lower back and spine, drop by The Joint today. No appointment is needed, just a need for pain relief.


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