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  • Writer's pictureAviva Family Chiropractic

5 Types of Chiropractic Adjustments and Techniques Explained


chiropractor performing spinal manipulation technique on patient

As they say, “One Chiropractic adjustment a day keeps the pain away!” (Well, at least we say that). Jokes aside, many people have heard about the benefits of chiropractic care, for pain management and wellness, but not about the actual techniques themselves.


What exactly are chiropractic adjustments? To start, they’re muscle and spinal manipulation techniques (also known as manual therapy) that help improve your spinal range of motion and ease the pain in joints.


There are dozens of chiropractic adjustments, but not all of them are used. In this article, we’ll walk through some of the more common adjustments and techniques you can expect during your chiropractic care sessions as well as how they work.



How Do Chiropractic Adjustments Work?

Chiropractic adjustments can be considered more of an art, as these skilled and quick movements of the vertebrae strategically allow chiropractors to release pressure from joints and realign them.


The body is an intricate web of muscles, bones, ligaments, organs, and nerves. Understanding anatomy, chiropractors will leverage weight, angles, and positions to manipulate or perform controlled thrusts on the joints to release pressure.


Do Chiropractors Know Where to Adjust?

chiropractor showing patient spinal alignment demonstration

Absolutely! Chiropractors are doctors certified and skilled in treating musculoskeletal conditions. Before applying any type of adjustment or technique on your body, your chiropractor will first review your health and medical history. Next, they’ll talk with you about any concerns you’re experiencing and perform observations on your posture and spinal condition.


After receiving all necessary information, your chiropractor can recommend a plan that is optimum for your recovery and pain reduction. Chiropractic plans can range from weekly to monthly visits, depending on your specific needs.



Common Chiropractic Techniques

Now that you understand the process, let’s explain a few common chiropractic adjustment techniques more in depth.


Gonstead Technique

Developed by Dr. Clarence Gonstead, this approach is a hands-on technique to analyze and determine where an adjustment is needed in the spinal region. Some chiropractors may also use a nervo-scope instrument to read along patients’ neck and spine, which helps indicate any misalignment.


Helps treat: pain and/or inflammation in the spinal area


Spinal Manipulation/Mobilization

This is a technique involving assisted stretches and gentle thrusts to help relieve and improve joint flexibility. While the description might sound uncomfortable, the motion is controlled and provides immediate comfort for patients.


Helps treat: joint pain and mobility


Activator Method

With this type of adjustment, your chiropractor will use a small, handheld instrument—the activator—to make low-force pulses to the spine. Performing the pulses at a certain speed helps relax the body and prevent joints from tensing up.


Helps treat: back pain, neck pain, headaches


Drop Table (Thompson) Technique

The Thompson Terminal Point, also known as the drop table (named after the object in method) involves the use of a unique table with a built-in dropping feature. The dropping motions of the table aid in joint manipulation, allowing the chiropractor to apply pressure and make spinal adjustments as needed.


Helps treat: spine misalignment, spinal and back pain


Flexion Distraction

Last but not least is the flexion distraction. In this technique, your chiropractor will adjust and stretch your skull or back (gently, of course) to realign the spine into its normal position.


Helps treat: neck pain, upper back pain


Depending on your unique situation and wellness goals, you may only need one or two of the aforementioned strategies. If the adjustment techniques sound a bit uncomfortable, you can always talk with your chiropractor and inquire about a demonstration beforehand.



Do I Need Chiropractic Care?

Even healthy individuals can benefit from regular chiropractic visits. Daily work routines that involve excessive sitting can cause discomfort and back pain. Neck pain caused from habits such as texting and slouching can lead to "tech neck." Most chiropractors recommend monthly appointments to ensure your spine is aligned and that you maintain a healthy posture.


Chiropractic care is a holistic, non-surgical solution for pain relief and management. Many pregnant women even opt to receive regular chiropractic adjustments during maternity to feel more comfortable.


Regular monthly visits to a chiropractor are proven to increase your flexibility, improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and more!



If these benefits sound like a match made in heaven, schedule your new patient visit today!



DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for health advice from a qualified physician. Please consult your doctor for recommendations in regards to your physical condition.










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