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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 they do this.

You might not know what they're called, but you can describe them if you need to.

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.

In the article below we'll talk all about spinal adjustments.

Continue reading to learn more.

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 produce the popping sounds.

They typically involve a high velocity; short lever arm thrust applied to the vertebra.

That comes with an accompanying, audible release of gas that is caused by the release of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, which releases joint pressure.

Most of the time they produce 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, 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 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).

The Pop

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.

How To Prepare

If you've decided to visit your chiropractor and have a spinal adjustment, you're probably wondering what to do 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. 

What To Expect

During your first visit, your chiropractor will ask you a series of questions about your medical history and accompany that with a physical exam.

The physical 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 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 occur.

After The Procedure

Most people report feeling immediate relief after their first visit.

The 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.

Many different techniques can be utilized during chiropractic adjustments


Many different techniques can be utilized during your chiropractic adjustment.

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. 

Do They Work?

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. 

Side Effects

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 off 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.

If you're experiencing any back pain or related issues, contact Cobb Chiropractic today

Adjustments Can Work Wonders

A chiropractic adjustment can be extremely effective in treating low back pain, 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.

Click the button below to begin your journey to becoming pain-free.

Schedule Appointment Now

Tags: Spinal Adjustment, perform a spinal adjustment

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