Chiropractic is an area of medicine focusing on musculoskeletal and nervous system problems and how they affect general health. Chiropractors use a variety of chiropractic treatments customized to the patient to treat many types of neuromusculoskeletal issues, including joint pain, neck pain, back pain, nerve problems, spinal conditions, and chronic headaches.
The goal of most chiropractic treatments is restoring or improving joint function, resolving inflammation, and reducing pain. Chiropractic treatments may use some force like spinal manipulation while others like spinal mobilization are more gentle.
Also called the direct thrust technique, this hands-on technique focuses on the spine and is the most well-known type of chiropractic adjustment. This technique involves a high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust or a swift, short movement that encourages correct vertebral alignment. Spinal manipulation is adjusted based on the amount of pressure each patient requires to support overall health and ease pain.
This type of spinal manipulation often results in the popping sound many people associate with chiropractic treatment. This popping sound is not good or bad; it's merely the release of gas trapped in the joints. This noise happens when the joint moves, causing a pressure change that results in the release of gas bubbles.
Cervical Spinal Manipulation
Cervical spinal manipulation targets problems in the cervical spine or neck that may cause neck pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain, chronic headaches, and reduced range of motion. The cervical spine is manipulated with a direct thrust or a more gentle chiropractic adjustment called spinal mobilization.
Spinal mobilization is a gentle chiropractic approach that's best for patients with degenerative conditions like osteoporosis. Spinal mobilization is used instead of direct thrust or spinal manipulation although the goal is the same: achieving proper spinal alignment and joint function. This technique uses slow movements like firm pressure and gentle stretches rather than firm thrusts to help the spine move back into proper alignment.
Articulatory adjustments target hurt joints to help restore full range of motion. This technique involves slowly moving the arm or leg through its range of motion while applying careful force. This type of chiropractic treatment can help improve mobility and reduce stiffness.
Myofascial release is a specialized treatment that targets the myofascial tissue, a layer of membrane that covers, supports, and connects the muscles of the body. Myofascial release is often part of therapeutic massage and it can treat stress points or trigger points that lead to pain.
It's important to realize that pain may not always be present at the trigger point as it can be referred to other areas of the body. This can make trigger points difficult to pinpoint, but a chiropractor or massage therapist will work to reduce tension and locate stiff areas to treat the pain.
Muscle Energy Technique
This technique is a type of myofascial release that is active, meaning it requires patient participation. The muscle energy technique targets stiff areas that have become painful trigger points. As the patient uses specific muscles, the chiropractor or massage therapist will apply counter-pressure. This technique will be repeated several times with each repetition lasting for just a few seconds. After each repetition, the position will be shifted slightly to make sure the technique targets the full range of motion.
Muscle energy technique is an effective way to promote mobility, reduce pain, strengthen weak areas of the body, and release trigger points.
Indirect Positional Technique
Sometimes pain is the result of hypertonic or overtoned muscles. Too much or uneven muscle tone can cause tightness and chronic pain. This problem often affects people who live a mostly sedentary lifestyle but lift weights several times a week resulting in, for example, overly developed pectoral muscles that lead to poor posture.
The indirect positional technique works to correct hypertonic muscles and improve joint mobility and range of motion. This chiropractic treatment involves holding the joint in the neutral position before applying specific force. The force may be used to lengthen the muscle or release tightness.
This chiropractic treatment targets stiff joints to free them from restrictions and improve mobility. This technique uses a gentle force to move the joint through the normal range of motion. When a restriction is felt, the chiropractor holds the joint at this point until it releases.
Flexion distraction is a common but specialized chiropractic treatment that is used to treat a number of lumbar spine issues like sciatica, arthritis, scoliosis, herniated discs, and failed back surgery syndrome. This hands-on manipulation uses a specially designed table to apply small, precise amounts of flexion distraction to parts of the spine that are compressed or have a herniated disc. While the chiropractor applies gentle pressure, the table helps to simultaneously stretch and flex the spine in a gentle cyclic motion.
These chiropractic treatments are often part of an overall customized treatment plan that may also include physiotherapy and massage therapy, among other non-invasive approaches. You can learn more about chiropractic treatments and how they can benefit you by contacting Chiropractic Fit.