A chiropractic adjustment, also known as chiropractic manipulation, manual manipulation, or spinal manipulation, is a common therapeutic treatment for lower back pain. A chiropractic adjustment refers to a chiropractor applying manipulation to the vertebrae that have abnormal movement patterns or fail to function normally. The objective of this chiropractic treatment is to reduce the subluxation, with the goals of increasing range of motion, reducing nerve irritability and improving function.
A chiropractic adjustment typically involves:
- A high velocity, short lever arm thrust applied to a vertebra
- An accompanying, audible release of gas (joint cavitation) that is caused by the release of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, which releases joint pressure (cavitation)
- A relieving sensation most of the time, although minor discomfort has been reported (that usually lasts for a short time duration) if the surrounding muscles are in spasm or the patient tenses up during this chiropractic care.
It should be known that joint cavitation or cracking does not occur at times, typically as a result of significant muscle splinting or the patient not being adequately relaxed during the chiropractic manipulation. At times like this, it is sometimes best for the chiropractor apply ice, have the patient rest, or do electrical stimulation and massage prior to attempting the chiropractic adjustment.