What is an adjustment? What to expect from a Chiropractor

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Learn more about what to expect from a visit to a chiropractor

Joseph Murphy Crum D.C. / Advanced Chiropractic and Rehab

What is an Adjustment?

After I have examined a patient or have them x-rayed, I will frequently sit down with them and review these findings using their x-rays and models to explain what is wrong and what can be done about it. I will position them on the table thinking I have done a great job and get ready to perform their first adjustment. Sometimes, during the adjustment the patient will give me a dose of reality: “What does that do?”.

Why do Restrictions Occur?

We use adjustment (chiropractic manipulative therapy) when joints are stiff or “locked up” and the body is unable to overcome these restrictions.  Many times it is the result of some type of trauma major or minor that results in spasm or swelling. This may or may not be painful. The majority of the time, initially, the pain will subside but the joint can remain restricted and maybe slightly bothersome or not at all. We adjust these joints to relieve these stuck areas whether they are painful or not. One of the reasons that these restrictions or subluxations persist is that in the spine we do not have voluntary control over the movement of any particular vertebrae. For example, if I ask you to move your fourth thoracic vertebrae (the fourth bone in the mid-back) you would be unable to do it. That is because movement in the spine is generally global not segmental. The longer that fixation stays like that, the more the bones tend to grow like that, as the body uses scar tissue and remodeling of the surrounding muscles and ligaments to adapt to the new position.

Why is it Important to get this Corrected?

The next question is “So what? It does not bother me that much”. I get it. Most people come in for pain, and fortunately chiropractic care does a good job at pain relief most of the time. In many cases pain can be relieved before tissues have healed or function is restored.

What Else Does our Office Offer?

In general, a joint that cannot move can’t nourish itself and this is particularly evident in the spine. Since a disc does not have its own blood supply this exchange of nutrients and waste only occurs by motion and movement and stirs fluid through the joints. So spinal disc degeneration is not just aging. Areas of restriction and poor disc nutrition are the ones that are affected the most and start a process that results in bone generation (spurs) and narrowing of the holes where the nerves exit behind the back bones. This is what sets up the classic “pinched nerve” which can result in pain, weird sensations as well as bad behavior where the nerves are going-including muscle weakness or spasm. If caught early enough the process can be halted and reversed, but it should be remembered that without a blood supply discs will not regenerate. When it comes to your spine a long-term recovery is best achieved by restoring function and in most cases chiropractic and exercise is hard to beat in restoring and maintaining health, function, activity levels and quality of life. So the next time you lay down on that adjusting table ask yourself “What does this do?”

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