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Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic adjustments are techniques used to free up a subluxation.  A subluxation is a vertebra in the spinal column that has moved out of place slightly.  A subluxation can cause pain and stiffness.  A chiropractor may use a variety of techniques to perform an adjustment.  Chiropractic adjustment is a safe and effective non-surgical non-medication form of pain relief.  The procedure may be used alone or in conjunction with massage therapy, hot or cold therapy treatments, or physical therapy to optimize the results.
Chiropractic adjustments are primarily used to treat subluxations.  They may also be performed to treat other conditions including nerve disorders, arthritis, sports injuries, headaches, sciatica, and whiplash.  By freeing or restoring a vertebra to its proper position, the body can heal.  Strain may be lifted from muscles and soft tissues.  Pressure may be relieved from nerves.  Additionally, adjustments may help to increase circulation, release endorphins, and reduce blood pressure.
Chiropractors may employ several adjustment techniques.  Your chiropractor may use his or her hands or instruments to perform the adjustments.  In the majority of cases, adjustments do not cause pain although sometimes you may hear a popping noise.

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Your chiropractor will perform a careful evaluation before providing your treatment.  You should tell your doctor about your symptoms and concerns.  The type of adjustment that you receive may depend on several factors, including your weight, size, and muscle structure.  It is important to remain relaxed during your procedure. 
Some common types of adjustment techniques include:
Instrumental Adjustments
Instrumental adjustments are a gentle method for adjusting the spine.  Your chiropractor will use a spring-loaded adjustment instrument to perform the procedure while you lie face down on an examination table.
Lumbar Roll
You will lie on your side for the procedure.  Your chiropractor will quickly apply firm pressure to your spine.
Motion Palpation
Motion palpation is a hands-on technique in which your chiropractor feels your vertebrae to determine if they are in the proper position.
Release Work
During release work, your chiropractor will use his or her fingers to apply gentle pressure to separate your vertebrae.
Table Adjustments
You will lie face down on a special chiropractic table during a table adjustment.  When your chiropractor applies pressure to your spine, the table will drop.  This allows for a lighter adjustment than is achieved with standard manual techniques.
Toggle Drop
A toggle drop is a technique in which the chiropractor uses crossed hands to deliver a quick precise thrust to the spine.
In the majority of cases, chiropractic adjustments are painless.  You may experience temporary mild aching or soreness following your procedure.  Your doctor will monitor your progress following chiropractic adjustment.  In some cases, treatments may need to be repeated.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit

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