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Instrumental Adjustments vs. Manual Adjustments


When a chiropractor considers how he or she will approach a given patient’s care pathway, a chiropractic adjustment is usually at the forefront of the strategy.

However the decision to incorporate a chiropractic adjustment is not that simple, as there are multiple types of adjustments. In order to simplify the process, chiropractic professionals have identified two different overarching groups of chiropractic adjustments. Manual chiropractic adjustments and instrumental chiropractic adjustments qualify these two groups.

The main difference between manual chiropractic adjustments and instrumental chiropractic adjustments, is that instrumental chiropractic adjustments involve the use of external equipment to perform the adjustment. There is a wide variety of tools that the chiropractor can use to perform the adjustment, and in manual chiropractic adjustments, the chiropractor simply uses his or her hands to maneuver the spine or any other component of the musculoskeletal system.

Instrumental chiropractic adjustments are known to incorporate an elevated element of accuracy, effectiveness, and safety. In manual chiropractic adjustments, there is a much smaller margin for error and the chiropractor is not able to achieve the level of detailed motion adjustment with the hands as with an instrument.

The properties of physical sciences are applied in every discipline of medicine, but they are especially useful in understanding the mechanics of our muscles and bones in chiropractic care. Many chiropractic professionals look to Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion so explain the mechanics of chiropractic adjustment and instrumental adjustments’ higher effectiveness over manual adjustments.

Namely, Newton defined force as “a push or pull that acts upon an object as a result of its interaction with another object.” Forces are constantly exerted onto each other, both ways. When an instrument is used to apply force to vertebrae in the spine, the spine exerts force back onto the instrument. The same applies for the use of the hands, but the amount of force is much higher which could lead to more problems. Instruments are so effective simply because they can apply small amounts of force to larger areas and minimize the potential for the application of excess force.

When forming a care pathway with some sort of adjustment involved, chiropractors need to assess the patient’s condition in depth before deciding whether or not to use manual adjustments in place of instruments.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Alisha Vargas

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