What do chiropractors do? Chiropractors are highly skilled in the hands-on art of spinal adjustment. An adjustment involves applying a specific force in a precise direction to a joint that is troublesome (for instance, it may be locked-up or not moving properly). The purpose of the adjustment is to help restore a more normal position or motion, often relieving pain. Using this technique, Chiropractors can treat any joint in your body…from your spine all the way out to your fingers and toes. Treatment is always within your comfort level and often can be quite relaxing.
What is a chiropractic adjustment? Chiropractic treatment involves the manipulation of joints, with the goal of decreasing pain by improving movement and function within that joint. When a joint is adjusted (moved), there is a natural change in the internal pressure of that joint. This change results in the release of gas normally dissolved in the fluid which lubricates the joint. The release of this gas may produce a "crack" or "pop" sound similar to that produced when you open a can of soda.
Is chiropractic safe? Research continues to support the safety and efficacy of chiropractic treatment. Chiropractors do not use drugs or surgery, which have their place but may produce side effects and complications. A 2009 study published in the scientific journal "Spine" looked hospitalization records for the population of Ontario, Canada analyzing 818 cases over nine years. Specifically, cases of vertebrobasilar artery (VBA) stroke (involving the arteries that supply blood to the back of the brain) were examined. The study did find an association between visits to a health care practitioner and subsequent VBA stroke, but there was no evidence that visiting a chiropractor put people at greater risk than visiting a medical doctor. The researchers attributed the association between health care visits and VBA stroke to the likelihood that people already experiencing a VBA dissection (a tear in the artery) seek care for the headache and neck pain related to this type of tear before their situation devolops into a stroke. There are many risk factors for stroke including blood clotting problems, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, use of birth control pills, heart problems and trauma such as sports injuries or blows to the head from accident. As each patient is unique, each treatment and each adjustment is unique as well. Your age, size and individual problem will determine which technique(s) will best put you on the road to feeling better.