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What Is Involved During A Chiropractic Adjustment?

  1. A high velocity, short lever arm thrust applied to a vertebra
  2. An accompanying, audible release of gas caused by the release of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, 
  3. A relieving sensation 

What Is A Spinal Adjustment And How Is It Performed?

Posted by Cobb Chiropractic Clinic on Jun 10, 2019 5:01:23 PM

It's what chiropractors are known for.

If you don't know anything else about them, you know that they do this.

You might not know what they're called, but you can describe them if you need to. The build-up of pressure along the spine as the chiropractor works, that pop, and then a wave of relief.

They're called spinal adjustments, and they're what makes the infamous popping sounds you always hear about.

They're what chiropractors use to treat back pain along with many other symptoms.

If you’re feeling squeamish about visiting the chiropractor in fear of the pop, we’re taking a deep dive into spinal adjustments, discussing all your questions and hesitations in this post so you can go visit your local chiropractor completely ready for your spinal adjustment.

What's A Chiropractic Adjustment?

Like we touched on above, a chiropractic adjustment, also known as a spinal adjustment, is the procedure your chiropractor performs that often produces the popping sounds and helps provide pain management to strained areas.

The process typically involves a high velocity; short lever arm thrust applied to the vertebra. That comes with an accompanying audible release of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. As these gases are released from your spine, that in turn eases joint pressure.

Most of the time a chiropractic adjustment produces a relieving sensation, although minor discomfort can occur. But not to worry, the discomfort never lasts long.

The cracking or popping doesn't happen every time, and occurs mainly due to muscle splinting or the patient not being adequately relaxed during the adjustment.

If this happens to you, your chiropractor will likely apply ice, ask you to rest, or do electrical stimulation and massage before the chiropractic adjustment.

Your local chiropractor is trained and licensed to perform spinal adjustments, so you should be able to trust their expertise

Your chiropractor is trained and licensed to perform spinal adjustments

Who Can Perform A Chiropractic Adjustment?

Chiropractic adjustments are also known by other names, such as spinal manipulation and Grade 5 mobilization.

Along with your chiropractor, physical therapists and osteopathic physicians are two other health providers that are sometimes trained to give the adjustments.

Grade 1-4 mobilizations are less forceful and direct than Grade 5, and they tend to be used more by physical therapists, massage therapists, and even some holistic therapists.

Typically, massage therapists, athletic trainers, personal trainers, and holistic practitioners are not licensed to give Grade 5 mobilizations (spinal adjustments).

When you are looking for a local chiropractor in Greensboro or North Carolina, you should ensure that they a certified and have the necessary experience to perform the procedure.

How Does A Spinal Adjustment Work?

Chiropractors are sometimes jokingly referred to as back crackers, and for a good reason.

As you can already guess, the nickname comes from the cracking and popping sounds that heard during the spinal adjustments. These sounds are often associated with a successful adjustment.

However, they might not have anything at all to do with an accurate re-alignment of your spine or joints. Instead, they are simply due to a sudden decrease in pressure inside the joint.

Chiropractors are notorious for the adjustment of the spine, but they also adjust the pelvis as a routine part of the treatment. Some also regularly adjust joints such as your knees, feet, wrists, and more. Any of these adjustments can cause the popping sound often associated with the trade.

Before The Procedure - During your first visit, your chiropractor will ask you a series of questions about your medical history and accompany that with a physical exam. This exam will emphasize your spine. If necessary and depending on your symptoms, he or she may also recommend other exams or tests like x-rays.

During The Procedure - A typical chiropractic adjustment consists of your chiropractor placing you in specific positions to treat the affected areas. You'll often be positioned lying face down on a specially designed, padded chiropractic table.

Your chiropractor will then use her hands to apply a controlled, sudden force to a joint, extending it beyond its usual range of motion. This is when the popping and crack sounds may occur.

After The Procedure - Most people report feeling immediate relief after their first visit. This relief will continue to increase after each visit.

Some people will experience minor side effects, including headache, fatigue, or pain in the treated areas. This isn't typical, and they typically only last a day or two after the adjustment.

Does Chiropractic Adjustment Work?

Many different techniques can be utilized during your chiropractic adjustment and there is a certain level of skill, and an "art" involved with high velocity, low amplitude adjustment or manipulation.

The most important part of the adjustment is often your chiropractor determining when and where not to apply the adjustment. 

Spinal manipulation has been proven to provide back pain relief by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Adding exercise and massage therapy to your routine will amplify the effects of the spinal manipulation. There's high-quality evidence that shows that spinal manipulations are just as good at treating chronic low back pain as any other treatment. And, it doesn't come with all the nasty side effects that you'll get with things like pain killers or, in extreme cases, surgery.

Possible Side Effects and Risks Associated With Spinal Adjustment

The most common side effects when it comes to chiropractic adjustments are aching or soreness in the spinal joints or muscles.

If you experience any aching or soreness, it will usually be within the first few hours after your treatment, and it rarely lasts longer than 24 hours after the adjustment.

Applying ice to the sore area often reduces symptoms rather quickly. 


Although a chiropractic adjustment is virtually risk-free, there are a few things you should look out for and be aware of.

These risks can include:

  • A herniated disk or a worsening of an existing disk herniation
  • Compression of nerves in the lower spinal column
  • A particular type of stroke after neck manipulation


If you have any of the following, a spinal adjustment might not be for you at this time:

  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Numbness, tingling or loss of strength in an arm or leg
  • Cancer in your spine
  • An increased risk of stroke
  • A known bone abnormality in the upper neck

As I mentioned above, these risks are very rare, and they shouldn't turn you away from the spinal manipulations.

If you have any concerns, just speak to your chiropractor during your initial visit. They will know the best course of action to take and can recommend the right treatment plan.

If you're experiencing any back pain or related issues, contact Cobb Chiropractic today, and speak with one of our highly qualified Greensboro chiropractors.

Many different techniques can be utilized during chiropractic adjustments

How To Prepare For Your Chiropractic Appointment In Greensboro, North Carolina

If you've decided to visit your chiropractor and have a spinal adjustment, there may be certain steps you can take to prepare.

The best thing you can do is ask your chiropractor if there is anything you need to do, but typically there is no special preparation required before your chiropractic adjustment.

Your treatment is likely to require a series of visits to your chiropractor. Most people attain maximum improvement in six to ten visits.

Your health insurance is likely to cover chiropractic care,  but you should check to see how many treatments they'll cover in a certain period. Check with your chiropractor to see the extent of the coverage.  

Greensboro Chiropractic Adjustments Can Work Wonders

A chiropractic adjustment can be extremely effective in treating low back pain and achieving results similar to conventional treatments, without the negative side effects.

Studies have also shown that adjustments can also help treat headaches, neck pain, and other spine-related conditions.

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms above, or if you've just been a traumatic event like a car accident, you should consider seeing a chiropractor.

If you don't currently have a chiropractor, the doctors at Cobb Chiropractic Clinic in Greensboro have years of experience, and they're ready to help you.

Schedule a consultation with our Greensboro chiropractors today to begin your journey to becoming pain-free!

Schedule Appointment Now

Tags: Spinal Adjustment

Cobb Chiropractic Clinic

Our Personal Injury Chiropractors in Greensboro specialize in Auto Accident Injuries and Treating Injury Conditions that can affect your quality of life.

For over 40 years our doctors have prided themselves on providing excellent care and the highest level of patient education.

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