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  • Writer's pictureDr. Yako Merogi

What are Chiropractic Adjustments? Do They Hurt?

A chiropractic adjustment is a therapeutic method used to treat lower back pain. They’re also referred to as manual manipulation, chiropractic manipulation, and in some cases, as spinal manipulation. However, all these terms are the same. Furthermore, chiropractic adjustments refer to the process of applying enough pressure to manipulate the vertebrae.

The primary goal of the chiropractic adjustment is to reduce the misalignment of the vertebrae so that it will have an increased range of motion and an improved function.

Overview of Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic adjustments are a type of therapy that is done directly by a physician. Its primary objective is to realign joint subluxations or in simpler words, partially dislocated vertebra. When a chiropractor searches for signs of subluxations, what they do is they look for subtle position changes of one’s joints.

Subluxations also sometimes take the form of disconnected bones and joints. There are different kinds of chiropractic techniques and methods to realign these. However, the most common one is by doing a fast, forceful thrust straight into the joint.

The goals of chiropractic adjustments are to bring the joint’s bones back to its natural and healthy fit. Take note, though, that the number of adjustment attempts depends. There are times when it only takes one adjustment, while sometimes, it takes more than three or four.

Are Chiropractors 'Back Crackers'?

You might have heard chiropractors being called back crackers. This nickname might have originated because of the popping and cracking side that’s heard during chiropractic treatment. Most of the time, people believe that the sounds created are a sign of a successful adjustment.

That may be the case for some, but it doesn’t necessarily have to do anything with your joints’ realignment. Instead, the sounds you hear are caused by cavitation. Cavitation happens when the pressure inside a joint suddenly decreases.

It causes the release of synovial fluid gasses to the spaces in between your bones that have just been adjusted. These gasses make up about 15% of your total joint volume. The chiropractic profession focuses mainly on spin adjustment. However, there is an increasing number of chiropractors that are also knowledgeable in adjusting the joints of our body, such as the pelvis, wrists, feet, knees, and more. But make sure to tell the chiropractor about the medical history of these parts if you plan on having these adjusted. Past injuries and traumas can make the chiropractic adjustment unsuccessful. Worse is that it can cause further injuries.

So, does Chiropractic Adjustments hurt?

Chiropractic adjustments don’t usually hurt. You may, however, feel slight discomfort on your joints during the treatment. But you won’t feel any pain afterwards if the adjustment is done correctly.

Most patients even enjoy experiencing adjustment. Some even like the feeling of being adjusted as it relaxes and relieves their body of pressure. But if it’s your first time going through chiropractic adjustment, expect to experience slight discomfort and soreness for the next 12 to 24 hours.

The feeling of soreness can be compared to the sense of having worked out in the gym. Simple stretching or placing ice on the area can even help subside the discomfort.

Furthermore, the adjustment aligns your spines and restores their full range of motion. Your tendons, muscles, and ligaments are also fixed and “tightened,” which is why you’ll feel a bit sore.

Also, the adhesions that restrict your joints and tissues from moving are finally broken; thus you feel slight discomfort. It’s best to discuss the chiropractic treatment with your doctor first before getting the treatment. Also, if you experience persistent discomfort, pain, numbness or weakness on your bones, it’s best to seek medical help. Chiropractic adjustments are usually pain-free. However, you may feel a bit of pain and soreness depending on your body’s level of tension and inflammation.

It’s also normal if you feel mild tenderness or tension after realignment.

Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments

Improved athletic performance, and prevents sports injuries

Chiropractic adjustments are greatly beneficial to athletes. A lot of professional sports players go through regular adjustments to enhance their performance levels while reducing pain and improving the body’s functionality.

You’ll also benefit from this even if you’re not a professional athlete, as you’ll have a stronger and healthier body. You also won’t quickly get tired because your bones and muscles function efficiently.

There are even some reports that chiropractic adjustment improves the body’s immune system and increases one’s energy levels because of the released tension in the muscles — a great benefit for those who want to be stronger and more productive.

Improves sleep, reduces neck pain.

Neck and back pain often lead to stress and lowers the quality of rest that a person can get. Chiropractic adjustments, however, are great when it comes to relieving stress. Because of this, they do well in improving one’s sleeping patterns.

A chiropractic adjustment can also give you a good night’s sleep because you won’t feel any discomfort from your aching muscles or bones. Aside from that, this can also make you more productive during the day because you’ve had enough “quality” sleep.

Relieves headaches and chronic pains.

People who frequently experience headaches can benefit significantly from chiropractic adjustments. The treatment is effective in combating migraines and headaches because of its muscle-relieving properties.

Your bones, joints, and muscles are all connected. And all these are also connected to nerves. As long as they’re functioning correctly and aren’t stressed, then the nerves tend to relax, removing any sensations of pain.

Better long-term pain tolerance.

A chiropractic adjustment improves pain management and treats chronic conditions such as intense migraine. These are also effective in managing injuries and preventing them from happening in the first place. You’re less likely to sustain any injuries because your bones and muscles work together correctly.

Body coordination improves significantly with the help of an adjustment. Injuries won’t also be that painful because your body can quickly adapt and work on the recovery process because of its improved efficiency.

Furthermore, a trip to the chiropractor can also help reduce pain caused by sciatica and fibromyalgia, as the realignment brings back the nerves to its natural position, thus relieving nerve pain.

Adjustments also have anti-inflammatory properties and can even improve digestive health. It also reduces the chances of you experiencing acid reflux and getting ear infections.

Lowers blood pressure and improves overall health care

Getting a chiropractic alignment gives you proper posture, which in turn, dramatically impacts your overall wellness. Various studies confirm that chiropractic adjustments help lower blood pressure because the bones, muscles, and tendons are working efficiently, thus improving your body’s overall well-being and helps lower blood pressure.

What to expect in Chiropractic Adjustment sessions?

Your chiropractor is going to ask you questions during your initial visit. These questions will be about your health history and your current condition. After which, the chiropractor will then perform a physical exam that focuses on your spine at first.

An examination will also be conducted on the other areas of your body where you feel pain. Also, expect your chiropractor to recommend x-ray examinations for a more in-depth observation. During the chiropractic adjustment, you will be placed in different positions to treat specific affected areas.

Most of the time, you’ll be facing face down on a specially designed chiropractic table. It’s padded so don’t worry if you think it’ll be an inconvenience.

The chiropractor will then apply a quick, but a controlled force to the affected joint. This ‘release’ action pushes the joint beyond its natural range of motion to release tension.

Expect to hear a cracking or popping sound every time the chiropractor moves your bones and joints.

You may experience minor side effects such as soreness or weakness on the affected areas days after the chiropractic adjustment. However, these are only temporary and will be gone in a week at most. Fatigue, headaches, and minor swelling are other side effects to expect.

Risks to Watch Out For

Persons who are suffering from inflammatory arthritis, osteoporosis, and spinal cord compression shouldn’t get chiropractic adjustment. Also, those who have taken or are currently taking blood-thinning medications must not undergo the treatment.

Meanwhile, patients who have cancer history must first get clearance from a licensed doctor before getting chiropractic adjustment. The accurate diagnosis of your body pains will then determine the type of treatment you will receive.

Make sure that the chiropractor is well informed of your medical history and the current medications you are taking (if there are any). Lifestyle factors, surgical and traumatic history, and various concerns should be addressed before going through any treatment.

Take note that there are cases (albeit very rare) of chiropractic adjustments that worsened slipped discs and even led to spinal cord injury. Before proceeding with the adjustment, see to it that your condition will benefit from receiving chiropractic care.

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