What is an adjustment?

A chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is the skilled application of a quick force to a joint that moves it beyond its passive range of motion but within a safe range.  It can take many forms and be applied manually (with the hands) or with an instrument. The purpose is to remove any restrictions (stiffness) in a joint which has lost its normal motion. Even a slight loss of normal motion at any joint can have negative impacts on neighbouring joints and soft tissues. Think of it this way – if one joint is not moving as it should, other tissues and joints must compensate for that loss, often pushing these other structures to be overextended and overworked. This can result in injury and pain elsewhere, and a domino-like effect can occur.  Sometimes adjustments result in a popping or “cracking” sound, this is a release of gas within the joint as it is “stretched” and the pressure changes.  A common misconception is that the sound needs to occur for the adjustment to be successful, which is not the case. As long as motion is restored in the joint, the adjustment was successful. Although other health professionals utilize adjustments to care for patients, chiropractors are the experts when it comes to assessing for loss of motion, and applying an appropriate adjustment to a restricted joint.


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