The Chiropractic “Adjustment”


Every day my patients tell me about someone they know who has some sort of problem, either with their neck, back, or any part of their body. And every time my patients say that they tried to get their friends to come in to see me but they won’t because they are afraid of chiropractors. They are afraid of being “cracked.” So after hearing this I realized that the people need to know exactly what a chiropractic adjustment is, what is going on, why it is necessary, and benefits to the adjustment.

First of all I need to explain what most chiropractors call a “subluxation.” A subluxation is defined in Webster’s dictionary as a “partial dislocation (as of one of the bones in a joint).” The problem with using this definition is that a bone in a joint is not dislocated and chiropractors are not bone setters. If something were dislocated then more than likely the structures holding the joint in place would be loose. Does it make sense then to force a joint that is loose into a particular direction only to have that segment go back to where it was due to the loose supporting structures like ligaments and muscles? A better word to use is a “joint restriction” because the joint is restricted by a tight structure, aka a muscle, from moving properly. So what happens is that, for example, when we sleep wrong or do any type of injury to our body/joints, the supporting muscle group surrounding the joint reacts and spasms. This then holds or “restricts” the joint from moving properly. Thus, muscles move joints and joints do not move muscles. If you concentrate on the muscles and fix the spasm then the joint will move how it should and a pain free range of motion can be achieved.

This is what chiropractors are trying to achieve with the adjustment. By putting a high velocity/low amplitude force to a joint segment in the appropriate line of force it allows the neurological input into the muscle, which is causing the spasm, to be inhibited. This allows the muscle spasm to relax thereby allowing the joint to move freely in the usual manner. That is why in my office I do a soft tissue massage to the surrounding area before the adjustment to help ease the adjustment. It is painless, if done right, and the results are usually instant depending on how long and to what degree the muscle spasm is. The longer you wait, the more painful the spasm is, and the more treatments are necessary to fully put the joint into its original state. I also do rehab to the joint and the surrounding kinetic chain of joint segments to re-educate the muscle to perform properly in its new state. The noise you hear is nothing more than a release of gas from the restricted joint and if you don’t hear a sound it doesn’t mean that the adjustment didn’t work. That is found with palpation or feeling the joint after the adjustment to see if it worked or not. Some patients have a fear of having their neck worked on or the rest of their body so in that case I use what is called an “activator” tool which does the same thing, but without any twisting motion and no popping is heard. It is not as effective but it works. I also use a special table for low back injuries that allows a certain technique called flexion/distraction. This is a specific adjustment with no twisting motions. It is a gentile procedure which is very effective and is performed at the patient’s tolerance.

So I hope that through this article you can see that a chiropractic adjustment is very safe, effective, and that there are alternatives to the usual adjustment that many people are afraid of. If you have any questions or want to come in for a free consultation, and/or if you just want to see the different techniques that I use then feel free to contact me or come by at: Dr. James Nill of Nill Family Chiropractic & Wellness Center, LLC. 4656 W. Jefferson Blvd. Ste. 240., Fort Wayne, IN 46804. drnill@nillfamilychiropractic.com, 260-459-2205 or fax at 260-459-2209.

Thank you and have a healthy day.