WHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC?
Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health and wellness. Chiropractic services are used most often to treat neuromusculoskeletal complaints, including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, pain in the joints of the arms or legs, and headaches.
WHAT IS A DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC MEDICINE?
Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a hands-on, drug-free approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.
Doctors of Chiropractic may assess patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or when it is not appropriate. Chiropractors will readily refer patients to the appropriate health care provider when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other health care providers.
In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be a patient’s primary method of treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic services may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.
WHAT IS SPINAL MANIPULATION?
One of the most common and well known therapeutic procedures performed by doctors of chiropractic is spinal manipulation (sometimes referred to as a “chiropractic adjustment”). The purpose of spinal manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile – or restricted in their movement – as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as an automobile accident or improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for an individual. Manipulation, or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues, restores mobility, thereby alleviating pain and muscle tightness, allowing tissues to heal properly.
Chiropractic adjustment rarely causes discomfort. However, patients may sometimes experience mild soreness or aching following treatment (as with some forms of exercise) that usually resolves within 12 to 48 hours. Compared to other common treatments for pain, such as over-the-counter and prescription pain medications, chiropractic’s conservative approach offers a safe and effective option.
ADJUSTING TECHNIQUES USED IN OUR OFFICE
Spinal Manipulation (High-Velocity Low-Amplitude Thrust):
The most frequently used chiropractic technique, spinal manipulation, is the traditional high-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust. The manipulation often results in an audible “pop,” as chiropractors use their hands to apply a controlled sudden force to a joint while the body is positioned in a specific way.
This technique is the form of high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust that is traditionally associated with chiropractic manual adjustments. For this method, chiropractors apply a short (low-amplitude), quick (high-velocity) thrust over restricted joints (one at a time) with the goal of restoring normal range of motion in the joint. The patient’s body is positioned in specific ways to optimize the adjustment of the spine.
Thompson Terminal Point (or Drop) technique:
This technique involves specialized treatment tables that have sections that drop a short distance during an HVLA thrust, with the premise that the dropping of the table piece facilitates the movement of the joint. This adjustment approach is sometimes used in addition to or, in place of, a more traditional diversified HVLA adjustment. Here, the traditional “cracking sound” may or may not occur and therefore this type of manipulation may also be considered a form of mobilization, or a gentle adjustment approach.
Using crossed hands one on top of the other, the chiropractor presses down quickly and firmly on a particular area of the spine while a section of the drop table falls, taking advantage of gravity to apply the adjustment. The table has different sections that can be raised and dropped in accordance with the localization of the spinal adjustment.
Spinal Mobilization (Low-Force or Gentle Chiropractic Techniques):
Some conditions (such as osteoporosis), pathology, the patient’s size, patient comfort, or patient preference, may require a gentler approach generally referred to as spinal mobilization. In addition, some patients and/or clinicians prefer mild spinal mobilization techniques that do not involve twisting of the body or a forceful thrust.
This technique involves a gentle adjustment that is designed to adjust vertebrae by applying a gentle stretch to the lower spine, usually in a series of repetitive slow movements similar to a rocking motion.