Woman receiving chiropractic adjustment in Bradenton

How Do Chiropractic Adjustments Work?

Chiropractic care has become a very popular form of alternative and non-invasive treatment for chronic back pain and other complications involving the spine. One of the most common chiropractic treatments performed are chiropractic adjustments.

Most people know someone who has had a chiropractic adjustment or have had a chiropractor perform one for them. But how exactly does a chiropractic adjustment work? And what is a chiropractic adjustment used to treat? Keep reading to learn more about how a chiropractic adjustment is performed and the benefits this procedure can provide.

What Is a Subluxation?

Subluxation plays an important role in chiropractic care. Chiropractors often look to identify subluxation during patient examinations as areas to be treated using chiropractic adjustment. Subluxation is defined as a partial dislocation.

However, the term can take on a slightly different meaning depending on the healthcare profession using it. For instance, a medical doctor would typically consider clear dislocation between joint bones as a subluxation. When it comes to chiropractic adjustments though, subluxation is a slight misalignment of the vertebrae, even a subtle alteration in the position of a joint or surrounding tissue would be considered a subluxation.

Chiropractors view these problem areas as the root of many health issues and aim to correct subluxations through physical manipulation of the spine during a chiropractic adjustment.

Why Do People Get Chiropractic Adjustments?

The most common reason people go to get chiropractic adjustments is to treat pain or complications with the spine. These spinal issues are usually due to injuries suffered during car collisions, sports accidents, or other impact injuries. Symptoms can include, but ar not limited to:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Leg pain
  • Hip alignment

Another reason people seek out treatment through chiropractic adjustment, as opposed to traditional medical treatments, is to achieve relief without undergoing an invasive surgery or relying on drugs to take the pain away. Chiropractic adjustment can be a great way to relieve pain from spine related issues without the use of pain medications that can become addictive and have adverse side effects.

How’d It Get Started?

The history of chiropractic as a practice began in the late 19th century by a man named Daniel David Palmer. Palmer was not a medical doctor, but was very interested in how the human body worked and how it could be healed, particularly how the spine played a role in healing the body.

Palmer performed what is considered as the first chiropractic adjustment in 1895 on a man named Harvey Lillard, a janitor that worked in Palmer’s building. According to Lillard, the adjustment helped improve his hearing, which he had lost after an injury involving his back some years prior.

With the success of this first chiropractic adjustment, Palmer was galvanized to continue learning and developing his new form of therapeutic treatment he termed “chiropractic”. Eventually Palmer opened up Palmer School and Infirmary and set the foundations for modern day chiropractic treatment.

Are There Risks?

Chiropractic adjustments are considered to be a very safe therapeutic treatment, but should always be performed by a trained and licensed chiropractor. However, that does not mean chiropractic adjustment is entirely without risk. As with any form of treatment, you should always know and understand the risks involved before undergoing a chiropractic adjustment.

The most commonly experienced adverse effects associated with a chiropractic adjustment can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Sore joints or muscles
  • Fatigue

These effects are typically mild and do not tend to last very long. While these benign adverse effects can be common, affecting between 23-83% of adult patients according to a 2016 review of 250 studies, fortunately severe adverse events are quite rare.

Studies showed that severe or life-threatening effects due to chiropractic adjustments occur around one in two million adjustments performed. Serious complications from chiropractic adjustment can include:

  • A herniated disk or worsening of an existing herniated disk
  • Vertebral artery dissection, a type of stroke following neck manipulation
  • Injury to the spinal cord or a spinal disk
  • Cauda equina syndrome, a compression of nerves in the lower spinal column

As stated above, these serious complications are extremely rare. However, you should not consider getting a chiropractic adjustment if you suffer from the following:

  • Cancer of the spine
  • An increased risk of stroke
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • A bone abnormality in the neck
  • Tingling, numbness, or loss of strength in the legs or arms


Are There Different Types of Chiropractic Adjustments?

The techniques used to perform a chiropractic adjustment can vary depending on the chiropractor you are using. However, the general method used to perform a chiropractic adjustment, or spinal manipulation, involves a quick and controlled directional thrust applied to the targeted joint.

These forms of physical manipulation and adjustment usually range from grade 1 to grade 5 with grade 5 being the most forceful and the one commonly used by chiropractors. The aim of any chiropractic adjustment is to manipulate the bones of the spine back to their natural and proper placement with the joints.

While the spine is the main focus of most chiropractors, some may also specialize in manipulating other joints in the body through chiropractic adjustment. This can include pelvic, knee, foot, and wrist adjustments. It is also important to note that proper alignment can be achieved after one session, but may take follow up sessions to reach full relief.

Who is Qualified to Give a Spinal Adjustment?

Chiropractic adjustments should not be performed by just anyone. While you are looking for a chiropractor to perform an adjustment on you, make sure that they are trained and licensed to perform grade 5 spinal manipulations.

Some other therapeutic practitioners may be qualified to perform grade 1 to grade 4 manipulations such as physical therapists, massage therapists, or holistic therapists. However, grade 5 spinal manipulations should only be performed by trained and licensed professionals such as chiropractors, and occasionally osteopathic physicians or physical therapists who have been licensed to perform such a technique.

What Should You Expect For Your First Adjustment?

When going in for your first chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor will first want to know about your medical history and the reason you are seeking an adjustment. They will perform a physical examination, paying particular attention to your spine. In some cases, your chiropractor may order further exams or tests, such as X-Rays, to better determine a plan of treatment.

During your initial adjustment and any subsequent adjustments, you will lie down on a chiropractic table. Your position on the table will vary depending on the adjustment or adjustments being performed. While some people only require one adjustment to fix their issues, it is important to keep in mind that further adjustments may be required to achieve proper alignment and desired relief from symptoms.

Schedule an Appointment

In general, chiropractic adjustment is a safe and effective way to achieve pain relief due to subluxation in the spine or other joints. If you believe chiropractic adjustment can benefit you and provide effective relief for your pain, then Manasota Accident Center is the place to go.

Our trained and licensed chiropractors are ready to help get you started on your path to a pain free and healthy life. If you are in need of chiropractic care, give us a call at (941) 751-0223 to schedule a chiropractic adjustment or learn more about our other services, or schedule a consultation on our website today!