At the heart of many chiropractic treatments is chiropractic adjustment therapy or spinal manipulation. This is the practice most people associate with chiropractors. Here is some information you should know about this form of care.
Evaluating Your Back
Before a chiropractor performs any treatment on you, they are going to spend time inspecting and examining your back. During the examination, none of the things they are going to specifically look for is subluxation. For a chiropractor, subluxation occurs when the joints are not in the right position. A chiropractor will also pay attention to how the soft tissue around the joint responds. They will determine if you have any subluxation through a visual examination as well as through a professional x-ray.
If a chiropractor identifies any subluxation in your back, they will then prescribe a course of treatment, which will more than likely include adjustment therapy.
Who Can Adjust Your Back
There are three different types of medical professionals who can perform spinal manipulation. Chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, and physical therapists are all medical professionals who receive both the training and the licenses to perform spinal manipulation, which is also referred to in the medical community as Grade 5 mobilization treatment.
Grade 5 mobilization treatment is the most forceful type of physical manipulation that a medical provider can perform. There are lesser degrees of mobilization, referred to as Grades 1-4. These are the type of treatments you may receive from a massage therapist or a personal trainer.
The Famous Back Cracking Sound
When people think of spinal manipulation, they more than likely associate the process with the sound of a back cracking. The famous back cracking sound is not a guarantee of treatment. It is more the result of a treatment, not a sign of treatment.
When pressure is applied to your back quickly and then released, it can cause the pressure inside of the joints to decrease. This decrease in pressure can result in gases that are stored inside of the synovial fluid to flow to the space around your bones, causing that famous "cracking" sound.
This does not always happen during treatment and is not a sign that you are getting the best or most correct treatment; it is just a sign that your body is doing something that it is designed to do when pressure is released.
Chiropractic adjustment therapy is about fixing subluxations in your back and getting your spine in the right position through Grade 5 manual adjustments that only a licensed professional should perform. The sound of your back cracking during treatment is just that, a sound, not an indication that the chiropractor is doing something right or wrong.