What is Spinal Manipulation

What is Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation is a technique used by chiropractors and other healthcare professionals to adjust the spinal column and joints of the body.

Spinal manipulation allows an improvement in mobility, a reduction of pain, reduced muscle tension, and overall promotes healing throughout the body. Spinal manipulation can be done manually or with the use of specialized equipment. It involves applying pressure or force to specific areas of the spine or joints.

Chiropractors use spinal manipulation to promote healing, mobility, and overall body health. Spinal manipulation can help after an injury or can be a great aid to overall health and maintaining movement.

Spinal manipulation is often misunderstood and has numerous benefits, approaches, and techniques. Learn more about why chiropractors focus on spinal manipulation and check out our most commonly asked questions patients have during their first visit.

How is Spinal Manipulation Performed

There are many different forms of spinal manipulation your chiropractor may perform. These vary based on experience, the type of injury, the outcome desired, and each person’s anatomy or medical history.

You may expect spinal manipulation that is performed manually, or your chiropractor may use tools to assist in mobilizing the joints or applying the spinal pressure. Remember that chiropractors are trained medical professionals when it comes to spinal manipulation and it is important to work with only trained healthcare workers for spinal manipulation.

Some common techniques used for spinal manipulation include:
  • High-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) thrusts: This technique involves a quick, forceful movement that is applied to a specific joint to restore proper movement and alignment.
  • Mobilization (low-force): This technique uses slower, more gentle force to move the joints and improve mobility.
  • Flexion-distraction: This technique is used to treat herniated discs and other conditions affecting the lower back. It involves applying a gentle stretching force to the lower back while the patient is lying on a special table.
  • Activator Method: It uses a small handheld tool called the activator adjusting instrument to deliver a gentle, targeted force to specific joints.
  • At Elite Chiropractic & Sport, we may also use Active Release Techniques or the Graston Technique to aid with mobilization.

Our doctors will always assess the patient’s condition and symptoms to determine the appropriate technique to use. Spinal manipulation is usually done with the patient lying on a table, seated or standing and the practitioner will apply force or pressure to specific areas of the spine or joint. The manipulation may cause some discomfort or a popping sound, but it should not be excessively painful.

Benefits of Spinal Manipulation

There are many benefits to spinal manipulation, both for general health applications and following an injury. Spinal manipulation can aid those with chronic pain, athletes, elderly patients, or those looking to generally improve their mobility and overall body function.

Some of the most common benefits from spinal manipulation include:

  • Non-medication application for pain relief
  • Alleviates common issues with chronic pain
  • Improve function and mobility
  • Reduces back pain
  • Non-invasive surgery alternative (in some cases)
  • Aids other treatment regimens for overall improved health
  • Pain relief from herniated discs, headaches, and osteoarthritis
  • Relaxation and reduced muscle spasms
  • Improved posture and balance
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved athletic performance

It’s important to note that the benefits of spinal manipulation may vary depending on the individual, the condition being treated, and the specific technique used. It is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as exercise, physical therapy, and medication to get the best results.

Frequently asked questions about spinal manipulation and chiropractic care

Spinal manipulation works by applying force or pressure to a specific area of the spine or back. This is done by a trained chiropractor who uses force or pressure to alleviate tension and improve overall mobility with reduced pain.

When done by a trained medical professional, yes, spinal manipulation is safe. Your chiropractor can walk you through the application, the effect on the body, and can answer any and all questions about the technique. Do not get treated for spinal manipulation by anyone other than a trained medical professional.

Some of the most common conditions include chronic pain, headaches, herniated discs, mobility, balance, posture, and overall body performance. In general, chiropractic care can help with inflammation, therefore, reducing joint pain, improving daily task function, and helping with sleep.

Your chiropractor will work with you to recommend the best treatment schedule for your condition. This may include several visits a month to a couple a week. Most often, patients start out with a few visits a week and this decreases over time. Treatments with spinal manipulation also include at-home exercises to help improve mobility and keep pain low.

Yes, spinal manipulation is often used in conjunction with other treatments. This is because spinal manipulation is best used as an aid alongside at-home workouts, mild medications, light exercise, rest, and other treatments.

Spinal manipulation is a great option compared to other treatments because it reduces drug dependence and can even be a non-invasive alternative to some surgeries. When used in combination with at-home exercises and light workouts, spinal manipulation can be very safe when completed by a trained professional.

About the Author

dr josh bross maryland chiropractor

Dr. Bross is the owner of Elite Chiropractic and Sport. He serves as a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner (CCSP) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. His unique approach to individualized patient care is based on the evaluation and treatment of the “whole” person.

Dr. Bross is a leader in the promotion of health and wellness. He has accumulated an extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal and nutritional components of the human body. He is skilled in the Graston Technique, Active Release Technique, and Sports Medicine.

About the Author


More from Elite Chiropractic