What’s a chiropractic adjustment?

What’s a chiropractic adjustment?

The Chiropractic adjustment is a thing that has been shrouded in mystery since 1895 when D.D. Palmer, an enthusiastic alternative medicine practitioner, stumbled upon the profession. The story goes that Palmer found a hard, palpable lump on Harvey Lillard, the nearly deaf janitor of his office building. Palmer decided that the lump must have something to do with Lillard’s hearing deficit and with a mighty whack shoved the bump, that Palmer surmised to be a “misaligned” vertebrae, back the opposite direction and immediately Harvey regained his ability to hear.

Though the exact mechanism of this miraculous feat is still being chewed upon by the scientific community, the incident is well documented and Harvey really did regain his ability to hear following this intervention.

The chiropractic profession, however, has come a very long way since D.D.’s and has gained more traction in the scholarly community as a valid means for restoring joint function and ultimately alleviating pain.

Essentially, an adjustment from a chiropractor works on two main levels; a biomechanical level, addressing the physical joint itself and addressing the nervous system’s motor control in the area. Let’s start with the biomechanical level…

Problems with Joints, A Chiropractor’s Perspective from Your Knoxville Chiropractor

There are a couple thousand things that contribute to the dysfunction of a joint. To name a few, natural degeneration of bone surfaces due to age, past trauma to the area, repetitive small movements like looking down at a computer and typing, tight spastic muscle due to postural changes… the list goes on and on. Joint dysfunction causes actual physiological changes to the joint.

The muscles will tighten down around the joint in the body’s attempt to stabilize it, fibrotic bits of tissue (we’ll call it scar tissue) will work its way into the joint capsule, and finally the most apparent to everyone is the chemical cascade that ensues known as the inflammatory response as this is what produces pain.

The Chiropractic Adjustment for Joint Function

Chiropractic Adjustments by your knoxville chiropractorOne of the most effective ways to restore joint function, and thereby reducing pain, is through the chiropractic adjustment, a type of grade 4 or 5 manipulation. The most common forms we see are back pain and neck pain. This is done by taking the joint to a range of motion that is less than its actual physical end range, but commonly farther than the individual can actively move it.

This manipulation commonly comes with joint cavitation or chiropractic’s infamous “pop”. This pop is created by nitrogen gas escaping the joint capsule as it is put under tension during the adjustment (not bones crunching or breaking).

An important note here is that the goal of the chiropractic adjustment is to create movement, not necessarily a pop. The cavitation is a good rule of thumb that adequate movement was gained from the joint but isn’t a definitive marker. Much motion can be gained without cavitation and even the opposite can happen as joints can cavitate prematurely without the desired motion being gained. This is commonly the case with people that “pop” their own neck.

The Chiropractic Adjustment: Benefitting the Nervous System

The second idea behind the chiropractic adjustment is the local upregulation of the nervous system by way of increased motor control. When a joint is restricted its motion is aberrant, or abnormal. The little nerve cells that monitor joint motion called mechanoreceptors, therefore, don’t interpret well enough the joint motion and the signal to the brain is altered.

The brain’s response to this decreased joint perception is to splint the joint by increasing muscle tone in the area around it. As you can imagine this worsens an already unfortunate circumstance. M.M. Panjabi wrote about this phenomenon and termed it the cumulative injury cycle1. Joint dysfunction will cause decreased motor control and therefore increased likelihood of injury. This injury will cause further dysfunction and further decreased motor control and the cycle continues.

How the Chiropractic Adjustment Helps Motor Control

Chiropractor in Knoxville helps patient with motor control and painResearchers are finding more and more how critical it is to maximize motor control throughout the body so that injury can be avoided. Christiansen et al. published an article that looked at peak strength measurements in Taekwondo athletes pre and post chiropractic adjustment2. They showed a 30% increase in plantar flexion strength and likely an increased ability to stabilize the joint, thus helping to prevent further injury.

To summarize, here are some of the benefits of the chiropractic adjustment talked about in this article:

  • Reduction in pain by introducing movement into restricted joints.

  • Increased range of motion

  • Increased ability for muscles to contract by way of increased motor control.

  • Better ability to stabilize joints and therefore decreases the risk of injury.

  • All around better body function by way of adding input into the nervous system.

Techniques Used by Your Chiropractors in Knoxville

At Knoxville Spine and Sports, we are big proponents of adjustments and are fully aware of all the far-reaching effects that it can have. We love to utilize other modalities to come alongside the chiropractic adjustment and enhance its effects but they are always just that, secondary tools.

The techniques that we most commonly use are called full spine and diversified. These are both manual, hands-on adjusting techniques that we utilize for both the spine and extremities. This method of chiropractic adjusting is always desired as it is the best way to treat restricted joints as well as neurological deficits.

The Activator: Your Knoxville Chiropractor's Gentle Approach

Occasionally, we will use a tool to help us adjust called an activator. This is commonly used if the patient has had beneficial experiences in the past with the tool or if their joints are not conducive to the manual adjustment due to underlying pathology. Short of significant pathology such as advanced rheumatoid arthritis or severe osteoporosis, the manual adjustment is always desired.

Another important thing to note is the manual adjust IS SAFE. No bones are breaking, tissues tearing, or joints exploding, just increased the extensibility of the tissue around the joint.

Your Knoxville Sports Chiropractor

Knoxville Sports chiropractor works with local athletesLed by Dr. Bert Solomon and his team, Knoxville Spine and Sports is best known as a Knoxville sports chiropractor. We treat many different sports injuries.
If you are an athlete, you may have heard about us through a local sports facility for Sports Medicine. Some of the most common Sports Injuries we treat include:

Resources and referenced studies:

  1. Panjabi, M. M. (2005). A hypothesis of chronic back pain: Ligament subfailure injuries lead to muscle control dysfunction. European Spine Journal, 15(5), 668-676. doi:10.1007/s00586-005-0925-3

Link to article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489327/pdf/586_2005_Article_925.pdf

  1. Christiansen, T. L., Niazi, I. K., Holt, K., Nedergaard, R. W., Duehr, J., Allen, K., . . . Haavik, H. (2018). The effects of a single session of spinal manipulation on strength and cortical drive in athletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology,
    118(4), 737-749. doi:10.1007/s00421-018-3799-x

Link to article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843672/

Research Study: Randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient management for low back pain: results from extended follow up

Link to the article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2550426/

Other helpful articles:

https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Why-Choose-Chiropractic/What-is-Chiropractic

https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Why-Choose-Chiropractic/Chiropractic-Frequently-Asked-Questions

Dr. Bert Solomon
A graduate of Life University, Dr. Bert specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related injuries, as well as spine and extremity musculoskeletal dysfunctions. He has completed his postgraduate studies in Chiropractic Neurology from the Carrick Institute, and Chiropractic Sports Medicine from the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic. He was certified in active release technique (ART) in 2007 as a provider for the full body and long tract nerves. He received his CCSP certificate in 2010 from the American Board of Chiropractic Sports Physicians, as well as received his CCEP certificate as an extremity specialist from the Council of Extremity Adjusting. Dr. Bert serves as a consultant for Fitness Together in assessing and evaluating the functional performance of their clients.
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    8029 Ray Mears Blvd, Suite 300
    Knoxville, TN 37919
    United States
    Phone: (865) 229-8796
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    contact information

    8029 Ray Mears Blvd, Suite 300
    Knoxville, TN
    37919
    Phone: (865) 229-8796

    office hours

    Monday
    7am-12pm & 1pm-6pm
    Tuesday
    7am-12pm & 1pm-5pm
    Wednesday
    7am-1pm
    Thursday
    7am-12pm & 1pm-6pm
    Friday
    7am-12pm & 1pm-4pm
    Saturday & Sunday
    Closed

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