What does a chiropractic adjustment actually DO?
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
That's a great question! And one that is constantly being tested, researched and understood. You may have heard of people seeking out chiropractic care for low back pain, headaches, pregnancy support, sciatica, colic and more. You probably understand that there will be some kind of physical treatment that possibly includes a popping sound (cavitation). And according to this poll, most people had a good experience with chiropractic care. But, you may not understand exactly how it works (we are still learning, too!). And, I, as a chiropractor, often don't explain thoroughly enough. As of now, there are a few things we know the chiropractic adjustment does. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Improves joint mobility. When there is dysfunction within a joint, you may experience pain, poor coordination, reduced range of motion and more. Your brain will also receive different input from a joint moving well and a joint moving poorly. Getting adjusted can address this and improve the way the brain and body communicate by improving the joint mobility.
2. It's like exercise for very specific spots. As a general population, we are less active than we used to be. In fact, the WHO rates inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor of global mortality. Humans are designed to move. I like to think of a chiropractic adjustment as very specific exercise. I seek out areas of dysfunction (which may or may not contribute to pain or other symptoms) and "exercise" or adjust that location very specifically in order to improve its function. And we know how important exercise is on both the brain and the body.
3. Improves posture. Chiropractic adjustments can improve your posture by addressing imbalances in both the muscles and the joints, especially those around the spine, which are more than likely contributing to posture issues the most. Is your posture perfect? Probably not. We spend a lot of time sitting at a desk that may not be ergonomically supportive, carrying a purse or bag always on one side of our body, looking at our phone with our head too far forward, curling our shoulders in when we stand, allowing our foot arch to collapse and more. Many posture related issues can be addressed with chiropractic.
4. Activates the brain. This is the coolest one, in my opinion. A chiropractic adjustment literally affects the way the brain processes. It can affect the way the brain processes when there is pain. It can also affect the way the brain communicates with other areas of the body by altering brain function.
5. Improves resiliency. There are a few studies that have looked at this. This particular one shows that a group who did not have any pain and received an adjustment actually had a increase tolerance to pain. Getting adjusted won't necessarily mean you'll never get hurt, but it may result in you being able to tolerate and recovery from injuries much more efficiently.
This paper does an excellent job of compiling a ton of chiropractic research in the areas of headaches, low back pain, cost effectiveness and more. I highly recommend it if you want to understand chiropractic more thoroughly!