Dr. Riley breaks down what a chiropractic adjustment is and what it is meant for.
Adjustments are one of the most common treatments provided by a chiropractor. Obviously that’s kind of the foundation of our training as chiropractors, chiropractic manipulation, adjustments, spinal manipulative therapy. That’s kind of the cornerstone of our treatment, something that we utilize frequently in clinic throughout the day.
As a chiropractor, I was trained to first diagnose and assess the situation. And diagnosis is so important to me through my physical exam, imaging, history, and all those things together will allow me to make the appropriate recommendations. Manipulation is such a fantastic treatment option for conditions of not only the spine, but also extremities, whether it’s the wrist, shoulder, elbow, ankle, whatever it may be. Through my assessment, I’ll do something called palpation. And what I’m doing with palpation is I’m just feeling or assessing what the mobility of the affected region may be. So for your low back, I may potentially put your face down and palpate your low back. The orthopedic test, the neurological tests, your history, they will kind of lead me to certain areas.
And through that palpatory assessment, I may determine that there’s restriction, tenderness, maybe inflammation, a little bit of swelling around a joint or a vertebrae. And when I talk about restriction, as I palpate through the spine, I should feel a fair amount of springy in play. I want those joints to be somewhat mobile and moving. What I’m more concerned with is when I get on a joint that feels stuck or restricted or very tight.
That typically suggests that there could be irritation potentially of a facet joint or an area of the spine. Restriction typically leads to decreased function, inflammation, and most importantly pain. So with chiropractic manipulation or adjustments, I want to apply a gentle force into that joint. And simply the goal is to reestablish proper motion. As I reestablish proper motion in that joint, hopefully we have reduced pain, inflammation, muscle spasm.
So, with my chiropractic assessment of the spine and extremities, I’m making a determination of what areas aren’t moving as well as they should. And then I’m simply going to put a little bit of motion into those areas to reestablish function and reduce pain. Chiropractic manipulation is very safe. Obviously, through your detailed history and imaging and so forth, we want to make sure there are no contraindications or reasons I would not adjust an area. But it’s a very safe, effective treatment.
And in my practice we utilize chiropractic manipulation with typically a host of other modalities or recommendations, whether it’s stretching or physical therapy, some form of massage. So we’re not only going to reestablish motion throughout the spine, but we potentially will do other things to reduce inflammation, maybe promote stability around that joint, make some recommendations, home exercises, activity modifications, and those types of things.
So does manipulation hurt? It should essentially be painless. Now I always tell my patients after I adjust them the first couple times there could be some localized soreness around that joint. So I want you to imagine if we talked about a joint was stuck or restricted for some time, and then I go in there and put a little bit of motion to get it moving and free it up. There is the potential or the possibility for a little bit of inflammation, a little bit of local soreness, which is very normal.
I always recommend to my patients after the first few treatments, put some ice on the affected area, obviously keep moving, maybe an ibuprofen, Advil, something like that to manage some of the inflammation. But it’s very, very safe. Sometimes you may hear a click or a pop. Technically we would refer to that as capitation. And essentially it means that gas is coming out of the joint and making that audible sound like many of us as kids, we used to play with the suction cup arrows that would stick to like a mirror or glass. And when we pull that off, that gas is released and you hear that audible click. Very similar to what’s going on here in the spine.
So chiropractic manipulation is one of my most common treatments when indicated for neck and low back pain. It’s a painless, effective treat typically associated with other modalities here in the clinic. So if you do have neck pain, if you do have low back pain chiropractic manipulation therapy could be a great option for you. I always say that diagnosis is key. Make sure you get checked out properly and have a good, clear program moving forward. And at Tulsa Spine and Rehab, we always keep saying, get moving.