Chiropractors employ a wide range of techniques in their practice. Each chiropractor has his or her own individual style, some preferring manipulation with their hands only, some preferring low-force, and others using instruments to assist in their adjustments. The one treatment all chiropractors agree on is removing spinal misalignments (called subluxations) that are the cause of many of the body’s musculoskeletal (and other) problems. The way by which they achieve these realignments depends on both the chiropractor and the individual needs and preferences of the patient.
There are many ways in which a chiropractor can adjust your spine. The technique your chiropractor uses will be based on your age, body type and personal preferences. For example, many people enjoy the “popping” noise that joints make when they slide back into alignment, but others find it disturbing. For those who are bothered by it, your chiropractor may choose a low-force technique, such as the Activator Method, which uses a gentle mechanical instrument for performing the adjustment.
To adjust the spine, a load must be placed on a specific area of the back, but that load can vary in its velocity, duration, frequency and amplitude. Some chiropractors are hands-only, meaning that they use no mechanical instruments to assist them in their adjustments. As chiropractic care has developed over the years, mechanical instruments have been developed to assist chiropractors in their adjustments, both in helping with delivering the proper force to the area needing adjustment, as well as employing other therapeutic techniques that assist with or complement your chiropractic adjustment.
For example, both the Active Release Technique and Graston Therapy are actually soft tissue treatments that can be used in conjunction with a traditional chiropractic adjustment to help release adhesions in the soft tissue that are limiting range of motion and that may be contributing to pulling your spine out of alignment. Other forms of complementary therapy that chiropractors often use are ultrasound, electrostimulation, therapeutic massage and physiotherapy.
Some of the most commonly used chiropractic techniques include:
Diversified – Probably the most common technique used, this employs what is referred to as high velocity low amplitude thrust to provide the adjustment.
Gonstead – This technique involves a thorough analysis of the spine, using five different criteria to analyze the subluxations in the spine, including visualization, instrumentation, static palpation, motion palpation and an x-ray analysis.
Activator – Uses a hand-held tool which is a small, spring-loaded plunger that delivers a very quick, gentle, and highly targeted adjustment that is quiet and comfortable for the patient.
Thompson – A special “Drop Table” is used to help carry the joint through its full range of motion after it has been activated by the thrust of the chiropractor’s hands.
Your chiropractor is likely to use a combination of different techniques. Ask which he or she typically uses so you can agree on the ones that may be most helpful for your particular situation.