Chiropractic manipulative therapy, also known as the adjustment, is a manual therapy focused on the joints of the spine and extremities. The procedure is performed with a low amplitude, high velocity thrust into a joint with the intent to induce movement and restore normal function at that segment as well as globally, throughout the body. The introduction of a gentle but quick thrust into the joint segment results in the joints of the targeted segment stretching, which increases the range of motion1. Chiropractic manipulative therapy has been shown to increase the strength of the spinal muscles, known as multifidi, in the area near that treatment site 2. In 2011, SPINE journal released an article which found that chiropractic manipulative therapy “has been shown to stimulate peripheral afferents, altering central nervous system input, and enhancing motoneuron excitability.”
Essentially, chiropractic manipulative therapy stimulates the peripheral nervous system which then stimulates the central nervous system. Our nervous system controls our entire body and is also responsible for our perception of pain. Chiropractic manipulative therapy has the ability to affect our central nervous system which can result in decreased pain. This study also found “a significant relationship between immediate post-SMT stiffness decrease and clinical outcome. This finding may suggest a relationship between stiffness change and outcome for thrust SMT that is not present if non-thrust mobilization techniques are employed.” First, the researchers believe that adjustments decrease the stiffness of the spine (increasing free motion and range of motion). This study found that at least part of the positive effects of the chiropractic manipulative therapy is by stimulating the nervous system and decreasing spinal stiffness.
Chiropractic manipulative therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment option for patients with low back pain, neck pain, and headaches 3,4,5. Before having the treatment performed on someone in need of care, we at Performance Health Clinics provide a thorough history and exam to make sure that chiropractic manipulative therapy is safe and will result in a positive outcome for the patient. Chiropractic manipulative therapy is a highly refined skill developed during the doctor of chiropractic’s intensive years of chiropractic education. Chiropractic manipulative therapy is widely recognized as one of the safest, drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for neuromusculoskeletal complaints like low back pain and neck pain, and is a highly controlled procedure that rarely causes discomfort 6.
Although chiropractic manipulative therapy has an excellent safety record, no health treatment is completely free of potential adverse effects. The risks associated with chiropractic, however, are very small. Many patients feel immediate relief following chiropractic treatment, but some may experience mild soreness or aching, just as they do after some forms of exercise. If you are interested in learning more about chiropractic manipulative therapy, and how it could possibly be applied to someone with low back pain, neck pain, or headaches, reach out to us at Performance Health Clinics.
1. Magnetic resonance imaging zygapophyseal joint space changes (gapping) in low back pain patients following spinal manipulation and side-posture positioning: a randomized controlled mechanisms trial with blinding. Cramer, Gregory D; Cambron, Jerrilyn; Cantu, Joe A; Dexheimer, Jennifer M; Pocius, Judith D; Gregerson, Douglas; Fergus, Michael; McKinnis, Ray & Grieve, Thomas J, J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2013 May;36(4):203-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2013.04.003. Epub 2013 May 3.
2. Association between history and physical examination factors and change in lumbar multifidus muscle thickness after spinal manipulation in patients with low back pain. Koppenhaver, Shane L; Fritz, Julie M; Hebert, Jeffrey J; Kawchuk, Greg N; Parent, Eric C; Gill, Norman W; Childs, John D & Teyhen, Deydre S J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2012 Oct;22(5):724-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2012.03.004. Epub 2012 Apr 18.
3. Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic Care vs Usual Medical Care Alone on Pain and Disability Among US Service Members With Low Back Pain A Comparative Effectiveness Clinical Trial. Goertz C, Long C, Vining R, Pohlman K, Walter J, Coulter I. JAMA Netw Open. 2018 May 18;1(1):e180105.
4. Spinal manipulation, medication, or home exercise with advice for acute and subacute neck pain: a randomized trial. Brønfort, Gert; Evans, Roni; Anderson, Alfred V; Svendsen, Kenneth H; Bracha, Yiscah & Grimm, Richard H Ann Intern Med. 2012 Jan 3;156(1 Pt 1):1-10. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-156-1-201201030-00002.
5. Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine: a three-armed, single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial. Chaibi A, Benth JŠ, Tuchin PJ, Russell MB. Eur J Neurol. 2017 Jan;24(1):143-153. doi: 10.1111/ene.13166. Epub 2016 Oct 2.
6. Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paige NM, Miake-Lye IM, Booth MS, Beroes JM, Mardian AS, Dougherty P, Branson R, Tang B, Morton SC, Shekelle PG. JAMA. 2017 Apr 11;317(14):1451-1460. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.3086.