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What Is a Chiropractic Adjustment & How Is it Performed?

Learn what a chiropractic adjustment is and how it's performed from Dr. Karen Erickson in this Howcast video.


Chiropractic is a healthcare profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and nervous and how those disorders effect your overall health. The chiropractic adjustment is the essential part of chiropractic care. Chiropractors will examine your spine and your overall musculoskeletal system and look for places where there are restrictions, misalignments, or restriction in range of motion that is causing muscle spasm, inflammation and nerve irritation.

The chiropractic adjustment is very specifically designed to adjust these restricted areas, or what chiropractors call subluxations, with a very gentle and very specific thrust to restore the normal range of motion and neurological function. The adjustments can vary depending on the technique that is used. Sometimes a traditional chiropractic adjustment is used on the spine where a little release sound is heard. These release sounds are not associated with any kind of pain, and in fact most people report that they feel relief almost immediately after the adjustment, or the hours or days after the adjustment.

There are other chiropractic techniques that are utilized that are very gentle or non-force, that might involve a gentle stretching sensation or a gentle holding or just a light contact being made on the spine. And these techniques are also very effective at reducing subluxations and restoring the alignment of the musculoskeletal system.

Your chiropractor will choose techniques that are appropriate for your body type and your condition, and you may notice that your chiropractor will change techniques for different circumstances and as your healthcare progresses. Your chiropractor will primarily adjust your spine, but all of the joints in the body can be adjusted very specifically, including shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers, hips, knees, ankles, and toes.

It's really important that chiropractors look at the entire, we call it the kinematic chain, how one joint affects the other joint. Because this allows the allows the musculoskeletal system to function optimally, and it also allows your nervous system to be functioning at a very high level.

Adjustments are often accompanied by other therapies. Your chiropractor may use heat or ice, electronic muscle stimulation, cold laser or low-level laser, and they may recommend therapeutic stretches or other exercises to improve your condition. It's important that you follow the recommendations of your chiropractor for home care, as we want to make sure that what's happening at home is supporting what happens in the office.

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