Have you ever seen a chiropractor before? A Chiropractic treatment will often involve spinal adjustments to help get you out of pain. Many people think of Chiropractors as a “back cracker” and spinal adjustment as “moving spine back into place”. I can understand why people might think that is the case because spinal adjustments often followed by a “crack” or “pop” sound, almost like a bone is “pushed into place”,
However, that is not what happens.
So, what exactly happens with a chiropractic adjustment allowing patients to feel better?
The main aim of spinal adjustments is to promote movement. Reduced movement within the spine may be caused by injury, posture, stress or any form of overload on your body. Therefore, a Chiropractic assessment will involve assessment of the patient as a whole looking into the posture, muscle imbalances, joint movements, functional movements, spinal motions and work with specific joints that do not like to move and how it is related to patient’s symptoms. After assessment of where in the spine exactly needs to be adjusted, a very controlled, low amplitude, high-velocity push to the joint will cause joint to move, sometimes followed by “popping” or “cracking” sound which is known as cavitation.
That sound is not cracking of your bone. It is a release of gas in the joint caused by sudden joint movement from the spinal adjustment. Synovial fluid inside the joint (which helps with lubrication of the joint) produce gas and release into joint space because of sudden pressure difference caused by quick spinal adjustment. You can think process as opening a coke can. That release of gas within the joint can stimulate the nervous system to reduce pain signal from your joints.
Simply, the mechanism is this:
Restricted joint movement leads to interrupted joint signal towards the brain. The brain interprets the signal as joint pain and delivers a pain response.
Chiropractic adjustment uses “Crack” or “Pop” (Cavitation) to remove restricted joint movement. This facilitates receptors inside the joint and reduces pain signals from the joint. The brain interprets the release in joint movement and reduces pain. The Spinal adjustment can trick the central nervous system by removing painful signals such as harmful mechanical or chemical stimuli from joints or surrounding structures.
There is a fear out there that chiropractors move joints and it is dangerous. However, chiropractors DO NOT actually “move joints into place”, chiropractors “facilitate” the movement of the joint to “stimulate” the nervous system and improve function!
Also, adjustments themselves vary. Most chiropractors utilise their hands with the adjustment but may also use assisted instruments such as Activator, Drop piece table or others that might not end up with cavitations. However, those instruments are designed to achieve the same outcome, “Facilitate the joint movement and to stimulate the nervous system”.
Dr. Harry Park is a Chiropractor at Healthspace Kingsford. Harry is dedicated to helping individual patients pain-free and assists them to reach the goal of a healthier lifestyle. If you would like Dr Harry to assess your spine, please contact the Kingsford clinic on 9663 2151.