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What Does Spinal Manipulation Mean?

Posted by Florida Spine and Injury | Oct 21, 2020 12:07:51 PM

Is cracking your back the ultimate solution for backaches, neck pain, and headaches?

The answer is... maybe. Back cracking can help relieve you of those pains, but not if you do it yourself.

The back cracking we're talking about is spinal manipulation.

Spinal manipulations are routinely used to treat pain conditions like back pain and neck pain. It's also used to treat other musculoskeletal conditions by applying force to the spinal joints.

The idea behind spinal manipulations is that applying force to problem areas in the spine will restore the spine's structural integrity, improve the nervous system, reduce pain, and allow the body to heal itself naturally.

Spinal adjustments of some type have been used for over 100 years.

Today, spinal manipulation is used in both Western medicine as well as Asian medicines.

In The U.S. and throughout North America, it’s usually performed by chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.

A spinal manipulation typically involves the manual or mechanical applications of thrusts on the lumbar spine and cervical spine.

In the article below, we will take a deep dive into spinal manipulation and what it means.

Table of Contents


What Does Spinal Manipulation Do?

Spinal manipulation, also known as spinal manipulative therapy, manual therapy, or chiropractic adjustments, are techniques where chiropractors use their hands or a specialty device to apply a controlled thrust to your spinal joints.

This can also be called thrust manipulation.

The amount of force used by the chiropractor will vary, but it causes the joint to move more than it would on its own.

Don't confuse spinal manipulation with spinal mobilization.

Spinal mobilization doesn't involve a thrust and is performed within a joint's natural range of motion.

Manual therapies are generally performed by chiropractors, as chiropractic treatment often involves manual therapy and manipulation techniques.

However, other licensed professionals can perform spinal manipulation, like physical therapists.

There are well over 100 types of spinal adjustments used by chiropractors around the world.

Spinal manipulation uses use force and twisting.

However, other techniques are more gentle, like spinal mobilization.

Chiropractors can also use ice and heat therapy, electric stimulation, traction devices, and ultrasound for deep tissue heating.

Chiropractors do their work on padded, adjustable tables.

Parts chiropractic tables table can be lowered as an manipulation is being done so the chiropractor can add different forces to the movement.

Spinal manipulations have become one of the most common complementary healthcare options used by adults and children in the U.S.

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The History Of Spinal Manipulation

In some form, spine manipulation has been used for thousands of years in many parts of the world.

There are even writings from Greece in 1500 B.C. and China in 2700 B.C. that mention manipulating the spine to ease back pain.

Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, describes spinal manipulation in his writings.

Spinal manipulation gained popularity and lost popularity frequently in the mid-1800s with physicians.

Some doctors attributed the success of spinal manipulation to nothing more than luck.

Modern spinal manipulation that is used today can trace its roots to nineteenth-century America.

A doctor named Andrew Taylor Still developed the theory that diseases were caused by displaced bones and muscles interfering with the body's circulatory system.

Daniel David Palmer developed the theory that the body's healing power could be blocked by spinal misalignments, also known as subluxations, therefore causing diseases.

This is the theory that would eventually form the basis of modern chiropractic medicine.

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Who uses spinal manipulation

Who Uses Spinal Manipulation?

About sixty-seven percent of adults in the United States that use spinal manipulation use it to treat a specific health condition, while about fifty-three percent use it to maintain overall wellness.

To break it down further:

  • 5% used chiropractor care for improved focus and memory
  • 11% used chiropractic care for improved immune function
  • 16% used it for improved energy
  • 25% used it to treat their body as a whole
  • 43% went to the chiropractor for general wellness and disease prevention

Research has found that patients reported positive experiences and reduced levels of pain after receiving spinal manipulation.

Between the years of 2012 and 2017, the use of chiropractic care by adults in the United States increased slightly.

Studies have also shown that women are more likely to use manual therapy than men. Older adults between 45 and 64 were more likely to see a chiropractor than adults between 18 and 44.

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are more likely to see a chiropractor than their younger counterparts between the ages of 4 and 11.

There wasn't a noticeable difference between boys and girls when it came to using chiropractic care.

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Does Spinal Manipulation Work?

It's proven difficult to measure the effectiveness of spinal manipulation because it doesn't lend itself to traditional studies like randomized controlled trials.

However, a study from 2007 found that manual therapy was moderately effective in easing chronic lower back pain.

The study also found that spinal manipulation in the lumbar spine region was moderately effective in lessening acute low back pain.

A different study concluded that six weeks of spinal manipulations helped treat chronic neck pain in about 70 percent of participants.

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Is Spinal Manipulation Safe?

There are limited serious adverse effects of chiropractic manipulation.

A chiropractic adjustment is safe as long as they are performed by a trained, licensed practitioner like a chiropractor.

Although rare, some serious side effects can occur, such as herniated disks or the worsening of a herniated disk, compressed nerves in the lower spinal column, and even a particular type of stroke after a neck manipulation.

Some people should avoid the use of spinal manipulation.

If you have severe osteoporosis, a high stroke risk, spinal cancer, or an unstable spine, always let your chiropractor know before beginning treatment.

It may also be advisable to avoid spinal manipulation if you experience numbness, tingling, or loss of strength in an arm or leg.

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How To Prepare For Spinal Manipulation

There isn't anything special you need to do before manual therapy.

Chiropractic care typically requires a series of visits to see your chiropractor, but everyone's body will respond differently.

Most patients attain maximum improvement in six to 10 trips.

One thing you can do to prepare for your visit is to check to see if your health insurance covers the treatment.

Many insurance policies cover chiropractic, but it's always wise to check whether it is covered and how many treatments are covered.

During your first visit, or your free consultation in many instances, your chiropractor will go over your medical history and complete a physical exam to diagnose any issues.

In some cases, your chiropractor may recommend imaging tests like x-rays.

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Spinal manipulations can treat several conditions

Conditions Spinal Manipulations Can Treat

Several conditions can be treated with a chiropractic adjustment.

The first condition we'll talk about is sciatica.

Sciatica is pain that is associated with your sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve controls the muscles in the back of your knee and lower leg, and it provides feeling to the back of your thigh, part of your lower leg, and the sole of your foot. 

A 2015 review of a variety of sciatic treatments suggested that spinal manipulation can help with sciatica.

A study of 192 people with leg pain associated with back pain found that participants who received spinal manipulation, personal instruction, and exercises had less pain after 12 weeks and used less medication than patients who didn't receive spinal manipulation.

A chiropractic adjustment is also very commonly used to treat low back pain.

In 2017, the American College of Physicians suggested that spinal manipulation is one of several therapeutic options that can help treat acute or chronic low back pain.

Spinal manipulation was also found to be better than a placebo for immediate, short-term relief from low back pain.

Manipulations were also found to be better than acupuncture for low back pain.

For patients with acute neck pain, spinal manipulative therapy appeared to be more effective than medication in the short and long term.

Headaches can also be treated with spinal manipulation.

Spinal manipulation may be one of several complementary health approaches that can prevent migraines and be as helpful as medications.

Other conditions, like fibromyalgia, and ear infections in children, have been studied to see if spinal manipulation could be useful. Although there isn't a lot of research out there, there have been promising results.

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Contact Florida Spine and Injury

If you are suffering from any of the conditions that can be treated with spinal manipulation, don't wait to seek the help of an experienced chiropractor.

Florida Spine and injury has an experienced team of chiropractors who have been using spinal manipulation to treat their patients for decades.

Their chiropractors have the necessary skills and training to ensure you receive the treatment you need to restore your health and well-being.

If you're experiencing back pain or neck pain, don't make the mistake of assuming it will go away on its own.

Many pain conditions will worsen over time if they are left untreated.

It's essential to see a chiropractor as soon as possible to prevent your problems from becoming chronic issues.

The chiropractors at Florida Spine and Injury will be sure that you receive the treatment you need to recover as quickly and optimally as possible - whether they use a chiropractic adjustment or another form of treatment.

If you're ready to break free from your pain and visit the chiropractors at Florida Spine and Injury, click the button below to schedule your Free Consultation.

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Topics: spinal manipulation

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