What is a Spinal Adjustment?

 

Spinal adjustment, also known as spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), is a type of health care treatment that focusses on restoring normal joint function in the spinal joints. The effects of SMT includes reduction of pain, inflammation, muscle tension, and increase in mobility or flexibility of a spinal joint or region.  In Canada, though some physiotherapists, medical doctors and osteopaths use SMT, chiropractors provide the vast majority of SMT treatments, with 4 million Canadians seeking chiropractic care per year.  


How does a Spinal Adjustment work?

 

Spinal joints that are not able to move properly can lead to pain, swelling, muscle spasm and nerve irritation.  With the aim of reducing these symptoms, the focus of spinal adjustments is to restore normal mobility or alignment to the spinal joints.  

There are a variety of SMT methods that may be used to restore normal joint function.  Some spinal adjustment techniques may include a very short, quick thrust to create movement in a joint and this movement is often accompanied with a popping noise in the joint.  Some approaches use more gentle force, which may be described as spinal mobilization.  Many adjustive techniques use the practitioner's hands applying pressure to the patient's spine while other techniques may use small instruments, such as the Activator adjusting instrument that provides a light tap to the spine.

                                       Activator

                                      Activator


Why do some Spinal Adjustments make a popping sound?

 

Some methods of SMT can create a popping sound in the spinal joints.  This happens because when the joint is stretched or repositioned there is a small gap created between the joint surfaces of the bones.  As the joint space opens up, it creates a release of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen gases from the joint fluid due to a small vacuum occurring briefly within the joint.  When these gases are released from the fluid, it creates the popping noise very similar to the sound a champagne bottle makes when the cork is removed.  


Spinal Adjusting techniques at Maloney Elkassem Chiropractic

 

At Maloney Elkassem Chiropractic, our doctors have training and experience in a wide variety of spinal adjustment techniques. This allows us to choose the treatment methods that are most suitable for the individual patient, taking into account the comfort and health condition of the person seeking our help.  

Primarily, our chiropractors use the following methods of spinal adjustment: Diversified Adjusting Technique, Thompson Drop Table, Activator Instrument Adjusting, Flexion-Distraction and gentle joint mobilization.  

While spinal manipulation can be a very safe and effective treatment method for many conditions, spinal adjustments may be combined with other therapies for best results. As well, there are instances where spinal adjustments may not be appropriate and other therapies alone may be determined to be the best course.  

In addition to spinal adjustment, our doctors frequently utilize soft tissue rehab therapies such as Active Release Techniques (ART), Graston Therapy (GT) and Trigger Point Therapy (TPT).  As well, ice and heat therapy, rehabilitative exercises, stretching, as well as posture, nutritional and lifestyle counselling may be incorporated into your individual care plan to get you feeling your best as soon as possible.  

If you have a preference for the specific type of therapy that you would like, please let us know.