We get this question a lot as Chiropractic Physicians. The research behind the effects of an adjustment tends to get muddied by the dramatic videos posted all over social media. The goal of addressing this topic is to de-bunk the common misconceptions.
In this blog, we will discuss:
- What is the chiropractic adjustment?
- Can an adjustment help with pain?
- Will you have to see a chiropractor “forever”?
1. What is a chiropractic adjustment?
The historical answer to this alludes to “bones moving” when the manipulation/adjustment takes place. Further research has indicated otherwise.
If the bones actually moved, the patient would experience a sprain of the ligament or a strained muscle. This would lead to further injury, rather than to healing.
When performed most effectively, the adjustment exists in the para-physiological space. Para-physiologal space?! What is that?!
Answer: It is the amount of space that exists in a joint capsules normal range of motion. When applying pressure, this increases the volume of synovial fluid in the joint (synovial fluid is simply the gelatinous fluid between bones that provides cushion for your joints). As volume of synovial fluid increases, the pressure between the restricted joints reduces, which may lead to the coveted “pop.”
Another common misconception is that if this pop is not heard, an adjustment was not successful. Often, the audible sound leads patients to believe that they have received a “good adjustment.” This is not the case. While there is research to support that the sound releases endorphins, which in turn can lead to pain relief, the sound is not needed for an adjustment to provide therapeutic benefit. Read along to see how the adjustment helps with pain relief and improves health, in more ways than one.
2. Can an adjustment help with pain?
Absolutely! However, it is important for a Chiropractor to also determine the cause of pain. In other words, determining the reason that the joint motion is restricted is important in determining the plan of care.
Some common causes of joint restriction that we see in the clinic on a daily basis include:
- Muscle tension – Ignoring muscle tension leads to further tension build-up. The muscles attach to bones; if the muscles continue to constantly pull at the bones due to tension, joint restriction develops.
- Lack of stability – There are certain systems in our body that are responsible for stabilizing our spine and brain. There are other systems that are responsible for moving our bodies. When the two start to compensate, we get a lack of stability. Our body’s response is to protect us, and it will give us pain as its way of saying “something is wrong here.”
- Poor ergonomics – The body craves movement. Staying stagnant for more than 30 minutes causes the body to want to load. This means that the body likes to adapt to whatever posture it is in at that time and hold that posture. Then, when you go to change position, the body will give you pain.
- Fear avoidance – If a joint is painful, often we see patients avoid using the range of motion that that joint is responsible for providing. This leads to the brain thinking we do not need that range of motion. As a result, we see increased stiffness leading to increased pain.
When providing an adjustment into a restricted joint, it has a natural analgesic effect that can give momentary pain relief. Following up with a proper treatment plan is crucial to making sure pain relief lasts.
3. Will you have to see a Chiropractor “forever”?
At IHS, our goal is to empower our patients to return to an active, pain-free lifestyle. Our average treatment plan is 8-10 visits, with a goal of discharging our patients with the tools needed to continue to succeed on their own.
While an adjustment can give momentary pain relief and actually even an endorphin release, the lasting effects come from addressing what lead to the need for an adjustment in the first place.
The integrated approach is the best way to get to that point.
Are you having muscle tension? Let’s heal it with dry needling and follow-up with soft tissue manual therapy for improved blood flow.
Are you lacking stability, leading to joint restriction? Let’s focus on dynamic therapeutic rehabilitation exercises and fine-tune your movement patterns, so that your brain-body connection is functioning optimally.
Do you have poor ergonomics? We will coach you on how to best optimize your at-work and your at-home settings to set your body up for success.
Do you avoid certain movements or exercises? We will help your body learn how to like what you are currently avoiding, so that it does not give you pain should you encounter that particular movement or exercise in your normal activities of daily living.
Let’s look at some reviews of real cases that have been seen at IHS by each of our providers, removing the patient identity for privacy purposes.
“I started coming to Integrated Health Solutions due to pain in my neck and shoulders that would not go away with my usual remedies. Dr. Charbel has really helped get me to a better place, not only helping alleviate my pain, but also teaching me how to strengthen my core and neck muscles so that I stop putting so much strain on my neck and spine. It’s obvious he cares a lot about his patients, and I greatly appreciate that he has helped me take control of my recovery and improve my overall health rather than just offering a Band-Aid solution. Would definitely recommend!”
“Dr. Hunt is awesome. He exponentially speed up my recovery with my SI joint pain in my back and also helped improve my overall well being. I had a few adjustments done and some dry needling. The best part besides his craft and technique, is him. He is a good person with great charisma and is very easy to get along with. This was my first chiropractic experience and it could not have gone better. 10/10 recommend Dr. Hunt! NO MORE BACK PAIN!”
“My experience with Dr. Jen was wonderful! I appreciated her help with body mechanics and how my current posture was affecting a lot of my back, shoulder, and neck pain. She gave me exercises to fix this and I have noticed a relief in the tension of my shoulders, neck, back by being more aware. Additionally, she was always on time to see me, made sure I was comfortable during the sessions, and was great at explaining the why and how of the treatments. I received dry needling (barely felt the needles), adjustments, manual therapy, and body mechanic rehab all in one place! Very helpful!”
“I’ve had a great experience working with Dr. Grundman! I’ve had persistent lower back pain for the past few years, and the first time I saw improvements in my day-to-day activities was after I started seeing Dr. Grundman. Outside of the in-person appointments, which have been very helpful, Dr. Grundman also taught and demonstrated over ten workouts that I can rotate through throughout the week. Overall, the in-person treatment, paired with the general knowledge and exercises I can do in my day-to-day life, have helped me get rid of my lower back pain almost entirely.”
“Dr. Bouse is a great communicator. Very professional but accessible . She asks detailed ,questions and really gets to know your needs as an individual patient. Shes one of the first chiropractors that I went to, that as you’re getting treated, she explains to you exactly why she is adjusting you the way she is. She is constantly educating herself on new techniques, modalities, and forms of treatment. As a restless leg sufferer, I’ve had to seek alternative medical forms of treatment to find relief at times. Dr. Bouse is trained in dry needling and has done some muscle work at our sessions. This has helped loosen up my tensed muscle and fascia to release allowing more articulation and movement to my affected areas. I do both adjustments and dry needling and to date it’s the only thing that gives me relief. I highly recommend her practice. Especially to those seeking a wider range of treatment.”
“When I walked into Integrated Health Solutions I had no idea what to expect. I had struggled with unexplained lower back pain for years. Dr. Charbel and Dr. Miller performed tests to see what treatment plan was needed and we started that day. They explained every detail of the treatment plan and why they were doing what they were doing. They give you the tools and light exercises to work on at home in between sessions. I have been through 5 sessions so far and completely stopped taking medications for inflammation. 5 sessions in and I hardly have any pain. Highly recommend Dr. Charbel and Dr. Miller if you are struggling with any pain.”
“Finally after trying 2 other chiropractors, I found Dr. Sanders. He got to the root of the problem, explained that problem in great detail to be sure I understood it, and then has multiple ways of treating me. (Chiropractic Adjustments, Acupuncture, Soft Tissue Therapy, and Physical Therapy) After suffering in pain and stiffness in my neck, back, and shoulders for 6+ months from a snow skiing accident, I am feeling pretty much 100%. Dr. Sanders is friendly, knowledgeable, patient, and effective. I saw improvements after each visit and am now armed with the information and exercises to keep my neck, shoulders and back healthy on my own. I would highly recommend to anyone.”
There is a multitude of misleading information regarding the adjustment and protocol in Chiropractic offices. This can be very intimidating when thinking of making your first appointment. This blog is intended to help answer some questions or clear up some misconceptions.
The purpose of an adjustment is to restore range of motion to a restricted joint. In doing so, this may or may not lead to a “popping” sound. Here at IHS, our goal is to provide treatment that is as pain free and as effective as possible, whether that leads to an audible cavitation or not.
To maintain health and proper range of motion, it is important to address the causes of joint restriction, rather than solely adjusting the location of restriction. This is where providers and values differ between various chiropractic clinics. At IHS, our goal as a clinic is to empower patients to not have to see us “forever.” We want to address tissue health, movement patterns, and other causes of decreased mobility in order to provide lasting relief. While maintenance care is useful in keeping the body healthy, it is not for everyone. I can speak for myself in saying that I love living a highly active lifestyle in addition to my highly active job at the clinic as one of the providers. I exercise daily then follow-up with patient care where I am hands on and moving the majority of the day. Sometimes, I get a sore back or a stiff neck. It happens! This calls for a tune-up every now and again. To me, staying on top of a minor tweak before it escalates into a bigger issue is the way to go.
I hope you find this blog helpful, should you have questions or want to see if we are the right fit for you, set up an exam to let one of our knowledgeable providers assess your concern, establish a treatment plan, and help you get back to a pain free style of living.
Content provided by Dr. Jen Brenneisen
Questions on how we can help? Call us for an exam and consult today!