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What is Spinal Manipulation?

When you hear the words "spinal manipulation" what sort of images race through your head? It doesn't exactly sound like the most friendliest of terms does it? But the more you learn about it, the more welcomed and friendly it becomes. Spinal manipulation is a staple in a chiropractor's routine, and when performed by a well trained professional offers a plethora of benefits. First, let’s figure out what in the world a spinal manipulation is. Well, it is a method of chiropractic treatment that targets vertebrae that have abnormal movement patterns or seem to function incorrectly. This in turn helps the patient experience "increased range of motion, reduced nerve irritability and improved function." Chiropractors are trained extensively on how to properly carry out this treatment.

Here’s the next question, how does it work? The chiropractor normally applies firm pressure using his or her arms in a quick thrust on to the vertebrae that is causing pain and/or discomfort to the patient. This powerful and well placed push on the vertebrae ends up releasing gas "joint cavitation" aka cracking and popping. At this point the patient experiences a relieving sensation, although sometimes there can be mild discomfort.

Chiropractors adapt treatment plans to meet the specific needs of each patient. Typically, chiropractic treatment plans involve some forceful and less forceful spinal adjustment techniques during the same visit or over the course of treatment (6 to 10 visits for a typical patient). Now that we’ve generally discussed how an adjustment works, it’s time to dive deeper into the most common adjustments chiropractors use:

  • Spinal Manipulation (High-Velocity Low-Amplitude Thrust) The most frequently used chiropractic technique, spinal manipulation, is the traditional high-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust. The manipulation often results in an audible "pop," as chiropractors use their hands to apply a controlled sudden force to a joint while the body is positioned in a specific way.

  • Spinal Mobilization (Low-Force or Gentle Chiropractic Techniques) Some conditions (such as osteoporosis), pathology, the patient's size, patient comfort, or patient preference, may require a gentler approach generally referred to as spinal mobilization. In addition, some patients and/or clinicians prefer mild spinal mobilization techniques that do not involve twisting of the body or a forceful thrust.

Now here is the kicker, what does spinal manipulation do for you? Well for starters, your back is going to feel a lot better! But here's a list of subtle things you really wouldn't think about, but these have been investigated and reported to take place in the body after a spinal manipulation. Increased secretion of melatonin (regulates other hormones, and assists in your 24-hour sleep cycle), increased endorphins helping pain management, lowered blood pressure as well as better circulation, increased joint range of motion, tension reduction in muscles, and much more.

Over all the spinal manipulation can be a very important pillar in our quest of optimum health. The manipulation ends up relieving back pain, and offers quite the spectrum of additional benefits. It is a natural approach to health care, and is completely non-invasive. Back pain is cured time and time again with the spinal manipulation technique without the use of prescription drugs. Like I said before, the more you learn about it the more there is to love! Talk to your primary care physician to learn more about chiropractors in your area. Get a great referral and see what all the fuss is about. Watch how your body responds to a professional spinal manipulation, and make this a part of your preventative health care routine.

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