While I am adjusting a patient, I am often asked if every patient is adjusted the same way. In short, the answer is no. In our clinic, we use a variety of techniques to make sure each adjustment is safe and effective for every patient. Although many adjustments might look similar from patient to patient, in fact, each adjustment is made to correct that patient’s particular problem.
How Do You Determine What To Adjust?
In our office, we base our adjustments on what we find in a thorough examination and, in most cases, what we see on spinal x-rays. Both the exam and x-rays give us insight into what is causing the patient’s problem, which areas of the spine need to be adjusted, and the type of adjustment that would be most effective for them.
In some cases, what we find on x-ray tells us that it would be unsafe to use certain techniques to adjust a patient. One such case is if a patient has a condition known as a spondylolisthesis. This occurs when one of the patient’s vertebra begins to slip forward, usually due to a small defect in the vertebra. It is estimated that 6% of the population has a spondylolisthesis. Although this can occur from trauma or advanced degeneration, it can also be congenital, meaning that is just the way the vertebra formed. Without x-ray, a spondylolisthesis can not be diagnosed, and this is an area that a chiropractor needs to be careful not to adjust.
Our clinic also uses x-rays, to analyze and make measurements to determine exactly what vertebrae of the spine needs to be adjusted. This analysis allows us to be more precise, and thus more effective, when adjusting patients. It also allows us to come back to take follow up x-rays and show change that we have made through a recommended treatment plan.
Different Types of Adjustments
When most people think about an adjustment, the first thing that comes to mind are usually pops or cracks. But not all adjustments produce this audible sound. In some cases, a specialized table or instrument is used to help the doctor perform the adjustment.
One technique that we use in our office is known as a drop table. This is most commonly used in the lower back, but can also be used to perform an adjustment in the mid and upper back as well. When being adjusted using a drop table, you will usually lay face down and feel part of the table rise up underneath you. The doctor will then push down, causing the piece to “drop” underneath you. The drop table typically produces a loud sound, but don’t worry it’s just the table, not you! The drop table allows the doctor to use less force to make the adjustment. This type of adjustment is particularly effective when treating people with severe pain, or with conditions such as osteoporosis, herniated discs or spondylolisthesis.
In some cases, instead of using our hands to perform an adjustment, we will instead use an instrument known as an activator. An activator is a small handheld, spring loaded device that can perform precise, low force adjustments. Activators can be used if people are afraid of hearing pops during an adjustment, or if exam or x-rays findings show that it is not safe to adjust someone manually. They are also effective in adjusting smaller joints such as the TMJ, wrist and foot.
At CORE Chiropractic in the Energy Corridor, we tailor each adjustment and treatment plan to the patient’s specific case and needs. By first doing a thorough examination, including spinal x-rays, we are able to determine what areas of the spine need to be adjusted, and the best technique to use. Call our office or schedule an appointment online to begin your own personalized chiropractic care.