What is an adjustment?
By Robert A. Leach, DC, MS, FICC, CHES
Doctors of Chiropractic use the term “adjustment” to describe the specific, controlled use of force, leverage, direction, amplitude, and velocity, which is directed at specific joints or anatomic regions. Quite simply, the doctor uses his hands or a small instrument to attempt to improve joint alignment or function.
Perhaps you have heard someone “pop” their knuckles or other joints. This doesn’t hurt and usually feels good, otherwise they wouldn’t continue to do this. Scientist determined that the “popping” sound is actually carbon dioxide gas leaving the joint capsule. After the “pop” is heard there is a “refractory” period that lasts from 45 to 90 minutes during which you cannot “pop” the joint again. During the refractory period new circulation including “happy chemicals” that fight inflammation, and carbon dioxide gas is returning to the joint.
If you relax for the adjustment it is rare that any serious complications will occur, and the only usual problem is some mild soreness that may last for up to 48 hours after the treatment. However, if you tighten your muscles and do not relax, or if you are scared by the “popping” noise and tighten your muscles while the doctor is performing the adjustment, then there may be some mild temporary pain from the adjustment itself.
Most patients can relax adequately to get a good “pain free” adjustment, but if the doctor suspects you are not relaxing enough he will tell you so. In the unusual event that you have some mild, temporary pain from your first few adjustment usually moist heat or an ice pack used 2 to 4 times per day will totally alleviate this complication. Call the doctor if this complication persists past 24 hours, or if you experience any other problems.
So remember, for best results the most important thing for you to do is to relax! Keep in mind that when you hear popping sounds that this is good news, because less pain, new circulation, improved range of motion and possibly realignment of the joints will now be able to occur.
The Federal government determined that spinal manipulation is “safe and effective,” for acute low back pain. So relax and get the best possible adjustment!
©2008 by Robert A. Leach