Chiropractors use chiropractic adjustments, also known as joint manipulation, in order to restore proper motion to joints that aren’t moving well. We often perform adjustments by using our hands to apply a quick, gentle force to the joints that are stiff. Sometimes we use a hand-held instrument, called an Activator, as a gentler approach to improving joint motion. The Activator is often a better option for children, older patients, or patients in acute pain.
Chiropractic adjustments help to relieve pain by decreasing joint stiffness and improving range of motion. Studies show that joint manipulation also helps to reduce pain on a chemical level. Research shows that joint manipulation can cause an immediate reduction in inflammatory markers. Other studies have shown that joint manipulation stimulates the body’s release of endorphins and serotonin to further relieve pain. This means that joint manipulation relieves pain by improving the way our bodies move as well as the chemical substances that cause us to feel pain.
The cracking sound that you may hear during an adjustment occurs due to tiny gas bubbles inside the joint. Joint manipulation helps to restore motion to joints by allowing the joints to gap. This gapping of the joints causes gas bubbles to form and then collapse inside the joint due to a quick change in pressure. This sound just indicates that the joints moved, but it is not necessary for the adjustment. Sometimes adjustments cause joints to gap without causing any sound.
As chiropractors we offer a variety of treatments for joint and muscle disorders. Joint manipulation is one of the treatments we offer, however it isn’t our only option when it comes to addressing joint stiffness. For patients that aren’t comfortable with being adjusted, we can stimulate movement in the joints by using the Activator tool or by mobilizing the joint. Joint mobilization is similar to joint manipulation, but it involves slower movement of the joints as opposed to a quicker applied force. When it comes to treatment, patient comfort always comes first. We work with our patients to develop the treatment plan that is best for them. Contact our office to learn more about how we can help you.