Are you experiencing back pain, stiffness, or discomfort? Spinal adjustment is a non-invasive and effective treatment option that could help alleviate your symptoms. This technique is used by chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists to manipulate the spine and improve its function. This post will dive into spinal adjustment, how it works, and the different techniques practitioners use. We will also look at the various conditions that can be treated with spinal adjustment and its benefits. So if you’re curious about how this treatment could benefit you or someone you know, keep reading to learn all about spinal adjustments.

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What is Spinal Adjustment?

Spinal adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, is a therapeutic technique commonly used by chiropractors and some osteopathic physicians to address various musculoskeletal conditions, particularly those affecting the spine. It involves the application of controlled, sudden force or pressure to specific areas of the spine to restore proper alignment, mobility, and function.

The underlying principle behind spinal adjustment is to correct subluxations or misalignments in the spinal vertebrae. These misalignments can occur due to various factors, including poor posture, trauma, repetitive stress, or degenerative changes in the spine. When the vertebrae are not properly aligned, it can lead to nerve irritation, muscle tension, restricted movement, and pain.

By applying controlled force to the affected area, spinal adjustment aims to restore normal joint motion, alleviate nerve pressure, reduce muscle tension, and promote healing. The adjustment can be performed on different regions of the spine, including the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), and lumbar (lower back) regions, depending on the patient’s condition and the practitioner’s assessment.

Spinal adjustment is often part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include exercises, stretches, lifestyle modifications, and other manual therapies. It is commonly employed for conditions such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, joint stiffness, and nerve-related symptoms.

Benefits of Spinal Adjustment

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Spinal adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, is a common therapeutic technique used by chiropractors and other healthcare professionals to treat various musculoskeletal conditions, particularly those related to the spine. Here are some potential benefits associated with spinal adjustment:

  • Pain relief: Spinal adjustment relieves acute and chronic pain, particularly in the neck, back, and joints. It treats conditions such as low back pain, sciatica, neck pain, and headaches.
  • Improved spinal alignment: Misalignments or subluxations in the spine can cause discomfort, restricted movement, and nerve irritation. The spinal adjustment restores alignment, reduces stress on surrounding tissues, and helps the body function optimally.
  • Increased joint mobility: Restricted joint mobility can result from various factors, including injury, inflammation, or degenerative changes. Spinal adjustment can help improve joint range of motion, enhancing flexibility and reducing stiffness.
  • Enhanced nervous system function: The spinal cord is a vital central nervous system component and resides in the spine. Spinal adjustment can correct misalignments, relieve nerve compression or irritation, and enhance communication between the brain and body.
  • Decreased muscle tension: Misaligned vertebrae can lead to muscle imbalances and increased muscle tension. Spinal adjustment can help relax the surrounding muscles, reducing spasms and promoting overall muscle balance.
  • Improved posture: Bad posture can cause spinal misalignments, leading to pain and discomfort. Regular spinal adjustments can help correct imbalances, promote better alignment, and reduce strain on the spine and associated structures.
  • Enhanced overall well-being: Spinal adjustment can improve well-being, including pain reduction, increased mobility, improved nerve function, and relaxation and stress relief.

How Does Spinal Adjustment Work?

Spinal adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustment, is commonly used by chiropractors to treat musculoskeletal conditions, particularly those affecting the spine. The goal of spinal adjustment is to improve joint function, alleviate pain, and enhance the patient’s overall well-being. Here’s a general overview of how spinal adjustment works:


Before performing a spinal adjustment, a chiropractor will examine the patient’s medical history, conduct physical exams, and request imaging tests if necessary. This helps the chiropractor understand the patient’s condition and determine the best course of treatment.

Patient Positioning

To facilitate the adjustment, the patient is positioned based on the targeted spinal area and technique used. The chiropractor may ask the patient to lie face down, sit upright, or lie on their side.

Manual Manipulation

Chiropractors use controlled force to restore joint function, reduce pain, and improve movement. The force’s direction and angle depend on the patient’s condition and the chiropractor’s expertise.


During the adjustment, you may hear a cracking or popping sound. This is known as cavitation and occurs due to gas release (mostly nitrogen) from the joint fluid. Cavitation does not necessarily indicate a successful adjustment and is not essential for treatment effectiveness.

Follow-up care

After the adjustment, the chiropractor may provide recommendations for post-treatment care, which can include exercises, stretches, lifestyle modifications, or additional therapies such as heat or ice application.

It’s important to note that spinal adjustment is a specialized technique performed by trained professionals, typically chiropractors or osteopathic physicians. They undergo extensive education and training to develop the skills necessary to perform spinal adjustments safely and effectively.

While spinal adjustment can benefit certain conditions, it may not be appropriate or recommended for everyone. It is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare provider to determine if a spinal adjustment is suitable for your specific needs and to receive proper evaluation and care.

Types of Spinal Adjustment

Spinal adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, is a common treatment method used by chiropractors, osteopaths, and some physical therapists to address various musculoskeletal conditions. The specific types of spinal adjustment techniques may vary depending on the practitioner’s training and approach. Here are some of the commonly used types:

Diversified Technique

This is the most widely recognized form of chiropractic adjustment. It involves high-velocity, low-amplitude thrusts applied to specific areas of the spine to correct joint dysfunction and restore proper alignment.

Gonstead Technique

The Gonstead method identifies specific misalignments in the spine and uses hands-on adjustments to correct them. The practitioner uses detailed analysis, including X-rays and palpation, to target the precise area for adjustment.

Activator Technique

This technique uses a handheld activator instrument to deliver a low-force impulse to specific vertebrae. It is a gentle approach often preferred for individuals who may not tolerate manual adjustments.

Thompson Technique

This technique involves using a specialized table with sections that drop away when applying pressure. The practitioner applies a quick thrust to the spine, and the dropping sections of the table help facilitate the adjustment.

Cox Flexion-Distraction

This technique is commonly used to treat disc-related conditions and involves using a special table that stretches and flexes the spine. The practitioner applies a rhythmic pumping motion to the affected area, which helps decompress the spinal discs and alleviate pressure on the nerves.

SOT (Sacro Occipital Technique)

SOT is a gentle, low-force technique focusing on the relationship between the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) and the rest. It involves using specialized blocks and wedges to stabilize and correct misalignments.

Applied Kinesiology

This technique combines manual muscle testing with spinal adjustments. The practitioner evaluates muscle strength and function to determine the appropriate adjustment to restore balance.

Flexion-Distraction Technique

This technique is commonly used to treat herniated discs and spinal stenosis. It involves a gentle, controlled stretching and flexing motion applied to the spine while the patient lies on a specially designed table.

Conditions Treated with Spinal Adjustment

Chiropractic care includes spinal adjustment or manipulation that uses sudden force on specific body parts to align the vertebrae or mobilize them. A doctor of chiropractic with years of experience performs this technique using different methods like manual therapies, instrument-assisted manipulations, and mobilization techniques. The American Chiropractic Association has reported that spinal adjustment works effectively for patients suffering from lower back pain, neck pain, and headaches caused by musculoskeletal issues such as misaligned vertebrae, muscle tension, or joint dysfunction.

It can also effectively treat conditions like sciatica, herniated discs, whiplash injuries, and certain types of arthritis. By correcting spinal alignment and enhancing the nervous system’s functionality, spinal adjustment aims to promote overall health and well-being. However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of spinal adjustment may vary depending on individual circumstances, and it’s always advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for specific conditions.


In conclusion, spinal adjustment is a non-invasive and effective way to treat various conditions related to the spine. It involves realigning the vertebrae in the spine to alleviate pain and improve overall function. The benefits of spinal adjustment include improved range of motion, reduced inflammation, and decreased pain levels. It is important to note that there are different spinal adjustments, and your chiropractor will determine which type is best for your needs. If you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort related to your spine, consider scheduling an appointment with a chiropractor today to see if a spinal adjustment could be the right treatment. Integrative Chiropractic offers a range of chiropractic services, including spinal adjustment, to help you achieve optimal health and wellness. Don’t let pain or discomfort hold you back; take the first step towards a healthier and happier life today.

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